The National Hunt season always comes into more focus at this Navan meeting each September to remind everyone the jumps season proper is only around the corner heading towards October this autumn.
We start the card in Meath with a big field for a two mile maiden hurdle, where Gordon Elliott’s GERALDO can strike under Jack Kennedy on his hurdles debut.
The ex-winning point-to-pointer was turned over by stablemate Talk Of The Town at Kilbeggan this summer before landing a bumper in good fashion at Cork under Jamie Codd last month.
Despite a drop back in trip, Elliott will have schooled this horse well enough at home and the five-year-old can show enough stamina to follow in the footsteps of Mengli Khan by winning this maiden hurdle for the Elliott team.
Risk Factor is the biggest danger for the in-form Joseph O’Brien with the horse rested and back following his late unseat of J. J. Slevin when beaten at Galway in late July.
Elsewhere, Jessica Harrington’s Charcor could improve for a debut hurdles second at Punchestown, while Annexation and Lignou and Tirmizi need close inspection in the betting for any market support.
An open handicap hurdle with several of these rivals meeting again following earlier battles this summer over hurdles where MIRACULUM might finally come out on top this Saturday lunchtime.
The five-year-old is one of two runners in the contest for trainer Gavin Cromwell with jockey Keith Donoghue booked to ride off an official rating of 88. He’s been mixing his runs between racing on the level and over hurdles this year, and runs off the same mark today following his fifth place finish at Wexford last month.
He ran respectable races when second twice as a beaten favourite at Bellewstown and Downpatrick earlier this summer and a first career win looks only around the corner.
Cromwell also runs Long March with Conor McNamara back in the saddle and he could reverse the form with Nameloc following at battle at Wexford two weeks ago.
Any market support for the J.P McManus-owned Don’t Let Go would need serious respect, while Paul Nolan’s horse, Whitango is another bang in the mix following good recent efforts at Wexford and Kilbeggan.
The Shark Hanlon-trained WHATSINTHECORNER returns to fences for the first time in just over a year and can secure back-to-back wins in this handicap chase at Navan on Saturday.
The eight-year-old secured two victories over hurdles this year, the first at Bellewstown (rated 103) in July, before bouncing back into form with another win at Clonmel in very comfortable fashion (rated 110) 16-days ago.
That looked an easy victory with more to follow to suggest another victory was possible with Hanlon now deciding to strike over fences off a chase mark of 110.
Benefit Run is the biggest danger for Ross O’Sullivan and Sean O’Keeffe with the eight-year-old out quickly following an easy success at Sligo just five-days ago. He’s been solid and consistent this year, but the handicapper is taken no chances and pushed him up 8lbs for his victory earlier this week.
That rise could give the Hanlon horse the edge in a battle between the two, with top-weight Cups Of Carabelli looking the best of the rest to secure a place for trainer David O’Brien and jockey Sean Flanagan.
The closing bumper at Navan on Saturday doesn’t look the strongest on paper with CHEMICAL ENERGY the default selection on debut for the powerful team of Gordon Elliott and Jamie Codd.
The four-year-old son of Well Chosen was purchased for €38,000 euro at Tattersalls Derby sale last summer and sent to Elliott for the Crocodile Pockets Syndicate. It’s not been the greatest bumper previously for winning favourites, but Elliott won this race with Ballydunblaze in 2018 and he’s a master of finding winners at Navan.
Another local master at Navan is Noel Meade, who runs Hes A Hardy Bloke with Michael Stenson in the saddle. this horse won a point-to-point at Mainstown last December before getting pulled-up on rules debut at Leopardstown in March.
Elsewhere, Eaton Lady on debut for Paul Nolan and Declan Lavery could be the best of the rest and the biggest danger to our selection.
The four-year-old filly is getting weight from all rivals here and the daughter of Presenting just might have some class to run a good race on debut.
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