Gary O'Brien: Alfa Mix and La Tektor get the nod at Navan

Navan horse racing.
Gary's two bets are from Navan

Gary O'Brien takes a look at the Sunday Navan card, and there's a Gavin Cromwell horse he's taken a fancy to...

"He was given a fair bit to do on his latest outing at Punchestown but there was plenty to like about how he finished off to be a never-nearer fifth, beaten just over two lengths by the progressive Anything Will Do - a winner again since."

Alfa can be in the Mix

The rise of Gavin Cromwell has been one of the most notable developments on the Irish racing scene in the past couple of years, and while the loss of Espoir D'Allen was a particularly cruel blow the Meath-based trainer has certainly rebounded in the best possible fashion.

The stunning Champion Hurdle success of his ill-fated stable star was the highlight of what can only be described as a breakthrough season for the former farrier, which ultimately saw him post a highly respectable domestic tally of 33 winners to finish seventh in the National Hunt trainers' table. A look at the figures for the current campaign shows that, far from resting on his laurels, Cromwell has pressed on and going into this afternoon's card at Navan he has already scaled new heights, the victory of Wolf Prince at Fairyhouse yesterday taking him up to joint-fourth with Joseph O'Brien and within touching distance of a maiden half-century.

That landmark could be a little closer after the €50,000 Tara Handicap Hurdle at 12:30, as the yard's representative Alfa Mix looks to have plenty going for him on his first start outside of novice company. Picked up at the Tattersalls Cheltenham sale in February after falling when holding every chance in a Balinaboola point-to-point earlier that month, it took a while for the four year-old to find his feet between the rails. However after showing up well at a big price on his second hurdle start at Roscommon he got off the mark in convincing fashion in what were very demanding conditions at Tramore just under two months ago.

He was given a fair bit to do on his latest outing at Punchestown but there was plenty to like about how he finished off to be a never-nearer fifth, beaten just over two lengths by the progressive Anything Will Do - a winner again since. Alfa Mix didn't hold a published mark going into that rated contest but an initial assessment of 127 is probably fair enough and still leaves him at the right end of the weights here, while the step up to 2m4f could well elicit further improvement. Top Moon, still potentially well-treated after a 7lb rise for his Cork victory, is feared most.

One to break his duck

La Tektor is an interesting contender for the 2m4f rated novice chase at 13:30 and is fancied to break his duck over the larger obstacles. Tony Martin's eight year-old is quite lightly raced for a horse of his age and there was a good deal of encouragement to be taken from his recent debut over the larger obstacles at today's venue.

An unfancied 33/1 shot there, he caught the eye with how he travelled through that race under a considerate ride and certainly performed better than the bare facts suggests in being beaten 23 lengths by the heavily-backed Cash Back. Intriguingly he has been given an entry in the three-mile Grade 1 novice chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, and for that to be justified he really ought to be going close today.

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