Brendan Duke: My fab four tips at Navan and Southwell on Sunday

Dukey has had his head turned by this foursome.


After two stellar weekends, it’s a little low key this weekend. But, there are still some interesting sorts on show in Navan on Sunday.

Racegoers will probably be setting a new record. The combination of one of the shortest days and an eight-race card means an 11:30 kick-off in Co Meath.

I’d be surprised if Irish racing has seen an earlier start and the slovenly like me have three options.

Go racing, don’t go racing, camp out overnight to ensure making the first. There is no rain about so the ground won’t be too bad.

It’s Navan though, even the Eiger’s south face remains a test in midsummer after all.

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Andy Dufresne will be the star attraction for most. He’ll be a short price to remain unbeaten after the graded novice hurdle (12:00). His latest win came over Sunday’s course and distance. It was a slick round of jumping that saw him home comfortably in front.

That form has substance too, but the opposition in this race has a bit about them too. Conflated looks sure to improve for the step-up in trip. Latest Exhibition is less certain to be suited by the extra yardage. His latest second is strong form though.

Sixshooter got stuck in the Gowran mud last time out and his jumping fell asunder. He looked a competent hurdler on his previous effort in Punchestown though.

The ground will be less taxing in this race. With the market possibly falling too deeply in love with Andy, and being less forgiving that me, Sixshooter looks the value play here.

The novice chase at 13:30 looks a tight affair, but eight runners give us a bit of each way encouragement. Bentham, on fencing bow, will carry my cash.

This horse has been kept busy since his debut in March and 11 runs have seen him pick up three wins – all were in bumpers. His hurdling career got off to a stuttering start, but the last couple of runs were much better.

All three bumper wins were on good ground too. I’m not convinced he needs a sound surface all the same. He looked to have a sound hurdling technique.

I don’t see why fences should trouble him and the step up in trip looks a positive too.

The best bet on the card comes in the handicap chase at 14:35.

Minella Till Dawn was a promising novice hurdler and he might well have beaten Al Boum Photo in Fairyhouse one day.

Sadly, he fell at the last and the tale of woe continued in his novice chase campaign. He then got an injury which kept him off the track for 18 months – Angela’s Ashes stuff. The third act has started promisingly.

The handicapper showed some pity, and the horse returned to run in Punchestown off a mark of 116. He was an unfancied 20/1 shot. He wasn’t knocked about but showed the fire still burns in running on to finish third and the form has had a boost.

He gets to run off the same mark on Sunday and also gets first-time cheekpieces. Navan is Gordon Elliot’s favourite track, so it all adds up to a big run. The bounce is a slight worry, so he will be a win only project for me.

That’s it for Navan. I will chance something small on Spirit Of Hale in the Southwell (12:10).

This is low-grade fare and Spirit made his seasonal comeback in Sedgefield last month. He looked to blow up a bit before staying on into fourth late on.

It seems perfectly reasonable to presume there will be a measure of improvement. The handicapper has taken a civilised line in dropping the horse two pounds. The first and third in that Sedgefield race have gone in since.

The heavy ground will help to bring his stamina into play. He looks a solid each-way play in an eight-runner race.

Brendan Duke Tips Summary:

12:00 Navan: Sixshooter
13:30 Navan: Bentham
14:35 Navan: Minella Till Dawn
12:10 Southwell: Spirit Of Hale

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