Another busy weekend starts at Navan on Saturday for Gordon Elliott, with the Betfair Ambassador saddling no fewer than 13 runners on a quality-looking card...
"I think the switch to a big, galloping track like this will suit him well and I'm hoping he is the one that they will all have to beat."
- Gordon Elliott on Andy Dufresne
Best Chance - Andy Dufresne (14:18)
Magic could play a leading role
Fields Of Dreams was a grand horse on the flat for Roger Charlton and has schooled well over hurdles. He seems a straight forward type who has settled in well since coming to us and he shapes like a horse who will stay two miles as a jumper. He will improve for this run and the experience but I hope he will run a nice race.
Magic Tricks ran a nice race on his debut for us in a bumper at Punchestown in October when he shaped like the likely winner at one stage before having to settle for fourth. He has come forward well from that run and I'm pleased with how his schooling over hurdles has gone so if he puts his best foot forward I would like to think that he could play a leading role.
Could go close with conditions ideal
Grangeclare Native is a grand, solid horse who should keep progressing and I wouldn't be surprised if he held his own in some decent races in the spring. I thought he ran a nice race in a maiden over this course and distance a month ago when he was just touched off by a horse of Noel Meade's (Joshua Webb) and I'm hoping he will go very close again with conditions looking ideal for him.
Lack of recent run and experience might be against him
Clondaw Secret is a horse we bought at the sales just under a year ago after he made a winning debut in a point-to-point. The form of that point looks quite solid and I'm happy with how he is working at home. His lack of a recent run and previous experience over hurdles might catch him out but I'd still hope to see him run a nice race.
Three decent chances in a competitive heat
Cracking Smart faces no easy task off top weight but he might appreciate switching back to handicap company after his run in the Hatton's Grace last week. He was well beaten there but showed more than he did on his comeback and I'd say he is steadily working his way back to form. He did run very well in last season's Coral Cup so it wouldn't shock to see him show up well here even though he has to give weight all round.
I think The Bosses Oscar is up to winning a good handicap this season. He was quite unlucky in the Martin Pipe last season when he still finished a good fifth and then he returned to win a conditions hurdle at Thurles in October when he would have needed the run and did hamper the runner-up after the last. I'm expecting him to improve plenty from Thurles and this race has been his aim for the first half of the season so I'd be expecting a good showing from him.
Shattered Love is interesting as this will be her first run over hurdles since April 2017. Since then she has developed into a very good chaser but we though it could be worth trying her back in a race like this to take advantage of a hurdles rating which is 16lbs lower than the one she holds over fences. She's been in great shape since winning at Clonmel last month and I could see her running well.
Expecting a good run from Conflated
Conflated progressed from his first run over fences to run a good second to Asterion Forlonge at Punchestown last month. Both his runs over fences have been at Punchestown and he has indicated that he might prefer to go left handed so this track should suit him perfectly and so should the trip. This looks a hot enough beginner's event but he's a horse I could see winning a decent chase at some point this season and I'd be expecting a good run from him.
Ferocious sprang a surprise to win a Tramore maiden hurdle this time last year but it's been a struggle for him since then and he was well beaten on his chasing debut at Gowran a couple of weeks. He is capable of better but may be best watched for the moment and he might need extremely testing ground to be seen at his best.
Hoping he's the one they all have to beat
As most people know he is a horse I've always thought quite a lot of and I was pleased with his novice hurdling season when he won a Grade 2 at Punchestown and was placed in several other Grade 2 events. He got his chasing career off to a nice start at Wexford six weeks ago when he produced a nice all round display and he's improved plenty since then. I think the switch to a big, galloping track like this will suit him well and I'm hoping he is the one that they will all have to beat.
Two chances but not overly confident
Elwood might want further but he did win his beginner's chase over this trip last January and maybe a drop back to this trip will work in his favour for the rest of the season as it might just help him to concentrate and sharpen up his jumping. I think he is a horse with the ability to win a decent handicap but his jumping needs to improve.
Gun Digger ran very well for a long way in the Cork National on his return last month and the Troytown Chase just came too quickly for him a week later. He also might benefit from coming back in distance and this sort of trip could suit him as he won a decent handicap over a similar trip at Leopardstown last season.
Track to play to his strengths
He seems a grand type of horse and I'm happy with how he has been working for the last few weeks so this looks a good place to start him off. He shows me enough to suggest that he could show up well in bumpers and I think this galloping track will play to his strengths. He is going to improve for both this run and the experience but I'd hope to see him run well.