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The last six-months has passed so quickly with Gordon Elliott now back amongst the winners following his suspension from the sport earlier this year. Elliott has a strong chance of securing the opening 2m maiden hurdle at Navan this Saturday with WESEEKHIMHERE the mount of Jack Kennedy. The five-year-old has enough form in the book to strike here following two bumper wins at Galway and Listowel last year and is a leading contender by some way in the Navan opener.
The son of Elusive Pimpernel raced a creditable third in a listed bumper at Cheltenham last November and his recent comeback fourth on the flat at Roscommon will ease any fitness concerns. Elsewhere, Luke Short and Vultan look interesting hurdling recruits from the flat for both Noel Meade and Joseph O’Brien. Champagne Vacation, Cullaghs Star, Wild Shot and Rotten Row are notable runners with good previous experience and will be fighting for the minor places.
ROCK ON SEAMIE gets the verdict to land the second race at Navan which is a handicap hurdle for female jockeys over the 2m trip. The six-year-old carries a light weight here off a rating of 102 for trainer Ray Hackett, who won this race with Phil The Flyer in 2015. The son of Libourne Lad has been consistent without winning over hurdles and was placed on both recent starts at Cork this summer. A drop back in trip looks a positive following his victory on the flat at Ballinrobe in June, while last year’s winning jockey Aine O’Conner takes the ride which is another major positive.
This maiden over the 1m trip looks a strong race on paper with plenty of horses in with chances including my selection PURPLE DAWN. The Michael O’Callaghan trained juvenile was an eye-catcher when second on debut here earlier this month and should appreciate the extra-furlong under Leigh Roche. The penny only dropped with the son of Belardo in the closing furlong and it was a good sign to see himself and winner Cornman pull nicely clear of the chasing pack with Rapidus back in third.
Elsewhere, the Jessica Harrington team are absolutely flying at present and it would be no surprise to see Adonis in the mix under Shane Foley. The Niarchos owned runner has improved for each start having finished behind Point Lonsdale, I Am Magic and Duke De Sessa. Scriptwriter should improve for finishing sixth on debut for Aidan O’Brien, while son Joseph runs Explorers Way who finished third also at the Curragh last month.
EVERGREEN AND RED can defy a 6lb rise in the ratings to land this 1m handicap for trainer Noel Meade and jockey Paddy Harnett. The three-year-old returns quickly having bolted up at Punchestown on Tuesday despite finding plenty of trouble in running in the closing stages. Harnett was travelling extremely well on the son of Requinto when meeting traffic problems before making a bold and decisive winning move up the inside rail in the closing furlong.
An improved rating of 65 shouldn’t stop this consistent three-year-old who also holds an entry at Listowel next Thursday. Elsewhere, Lady Leanora might struggle to score again for Dermot Weld having been raised 7lbs for her recent victory here with Colin Keane now replacing 7lb apprentice Jamie Powell in the saddle. Dark Design is another recent winner following his Killarney win with Plunkett now wearing cheekpieces looking the biggest danger to my selection following his second-place finish here last month.
Gordon Elliott has previously had good success in this 2m 4f maiden hurdle winning three of the last six-renewals since 2015. CHEMICAL ENERGY is the sole ride on the card for jockey Davy Russell and looks the obvious selection having contested top bumper races last season. He scored at both Roscommon and Down Royal before finishing fourth to Kilcruit at Leopardstown in the Dublin Racing Festival back in February.
The five-year-old was outclassed when finishing down the field in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in March but should pay his way as a novice hurdler this season. He looks more than capable of seeing off this opposition on his seasonal debut with Rebel Rose, Fancy A Cosmo and Ingenious Stroke looking the biggest dangers. Rebel Rose has finished second in two recent maiden hurdles, while Ingenious Stroke looks interesting having won a point to point back in April.
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George Strawbridge privately purchased ELYSIUM last Autumn and might regain some return on investment in the feature Group 3 at Gowran Park on Saturday. The Noel Meade trained runner made excellent progression last season which ended with victory in the Group 3 Weld Park Stakes at the Curragh last September. The three-year-old finished last when returning in Group 3 company at Ascot in July and will be much sharper for the run.
She’s officially rated the best horse here (103) and will appreciate any rain ahead of the feature event on the card. Elsewhere, April Showers is a leading contender for Donnacha O’Brien having got the better of several of these rivals when second in the Kilboy Estate Stakes at the Curragh in July. It looks a wide-open affair on paper with Dermot Weld’s two Aga Khan fillies Zawara and Emaniya just two others on the shortlist.
Hardcore Line Of Duty fans will be backing Ted Hastings blind on his rules debut for Gordon Elliott with the five-year-old a point to point winner for Peter Flood at Dromahane in May. This lad to paraphrase Adrian Dunbar’s character is certainly “no wee donkey” but might struggle on better ground and over this 2m trip on debut. Conna Cottage is another point to point recruit who finished second at Punchestown and is now trained by Gavin Cromwell with Derek O’Connor booked.
He’s another who might appreciate a trip in time which is why I’ve siding with DADS LAD for Willie and Patrick Mullins. The six-year-old has plenty of previous experience and should have the speed to see off these rivals in the Navan finale. The son of Eliot was placed in bumpers at Clonmel, here at Navan, Galway and Kilbeggan and now has fitness on his side following his seasonal return at Galway back in July.
Saturday racing tips
13:15 Navan – Weseekhimhere
13:45 Navan – Rock On Seamie
14:10 Gowran Park – Purple Dawn
14:45 Gowran Park – Evergreen And Red
14:55 Navan – Chemical Energy
16:30 Gowran Park – Elysium
17:10 Navan – Dads Lad
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