Gordon Elliott: Get the rundown on my Sunday runners at Navan
Betfair Ambassador hopes to pop the Champagne as his best chance, Champaign Classic, runs in Grade 2 Novice Chase at Navan. Have a read of what he makes of his runners throughout the card here...
"I was delighted with Champagne Classic's comeback in a Grade 3 at Naas last month. He did everything right through the race and jumped superbly before his lack of a recent run found him out. He's entitled to improve a good bit from that run as it was his first for almost two years and I've been happy with him at home since he ran at Naas."
13:50 - Milan Native
He's a fine, big horse who ran a nice race on his debut at Leopardstown at Christmas when he was third in a two and a half mile bumper. He's still a raw sort who is going to progress well with racing and with a lack of bumper opportunities I was keen to get more experience into him which is why he is running here. As a hurdler he will probably want at least two and a half miles but the stiff two miles around Navan should suit him. He'll hopefully run a solid race but his lack of hurdling experience could count against him.
Big runs before Cheltenham
14:20 - Bless The Wings, Cracking Smart and Tiger Roll
We've an unusual team for this race but I'm keen to get a run into both Bless The Wings and Tiger Roll ahead of the cross country race at Cheltenham. They are both in good form and I'm really looking forward to getting them back to Cheltenham and this looked a nice prep race for them as they aren't going to have to shoulder a big weight in a competitive field. Bless The Wings is in good shape but a rating of 120 leaves him plenty to do and the trip is short of his best so I'd be surprised if he got closely involved.
The plan is for Tiger Roll to run here, head to Cheltenham and then go back for the Grand National. He's only a small horse and isn't suited by carrying big weights so I didn't want him to have his Cheltenham prep in a handicap and he should enjoy himself back over hurdles. He is a former Triumph Hurdle winner but staying chasing has brought out the best in him and I'm sure a few of these will be far too good for him.
Cracking Smart was treated for a kissing spine in the autumn which is why he was late coming back and he needed his comeback run badly at Christmas. He got very tired that day so he's been given plenty of time since then and he looks to have come forward and sharpened up a lot which he needed to do if he is to be competitive at this level.
Ideally I'd prefer to have gotten another run into him but he's as fit as I can have him at home and if he ran run to the level he reached as a novice hurdler he should give a good account of himself.
Star to be watched
14:55 Silver Star
Silver Star is just ready to start back and he is going to need his run in the two mile handicap hurdle so he won't find it easy off top weight. He had quite a busy autumn so he got a nice break after running at Cheltenham in October with a view to having him back for the spring. He's a horse that should win more races over hurdles but he will need this comeback and that coupled with top weight means that he is best watched.
This one's a classic
15:25 Blow By Blow and Champagne Classic
Blow By Blow has been quite disappointing this season but I hope that a small field over three miles at a galloping track like this will suit him well. He did run quite well behind Delta Work over Christmas when he was third in a Leopardstown Grade 1 and that effort would give him a chance but he's not easy to predict.
I was delighted with Champagne Classic's comeback in a Grade 3 at Naas last month. He did everything right through the race and jumped superbly before his lack of a recent run found him out. He's entitled to improve a good bit from that run as it was his first for almost two years and I've been happy with him at home since he ran at Naas. It may be a concern that he is running just three weeks after coming back from such a long layoff but I see no reason not to run him and his Naas effort would suggest that he will go close.
Another Cheltenham warm up
16:00 Ucello Conti
He will warm up for the Foxhunters at Cheltenham in this race. Since he won at Thurles he's been in good shape and he seems very well in himself so it is well worth letting him take his chance here. I'd prefer if the ground was slower but this track will suit him better than Thurles and he'll have gotten a nice bit of confidence from winning at Thurles so hopefully he might win again for us.
Ground and trip should make her smile
16:30 Smiling Eliza
She has run two solid races since moving into handicaps and I was pleased with her effort in a decent mares race at Leopardstown two weeks ago where she would have been closer with better luck in running. That run was over two and a quarter miles and the way she finished that day suggested that two and a half wouldn't be a problem. The decent ground will suit her well and she won at Navan on the flat so there's plenty of reasons to be positive about her chances.
Factor it in
17:00 Multifactorial and Thatsy
Multifactorial has run two solid races in defeat this season and deserves to win a bumper. I think he was a little disadvantaged with how the race was run last time but he was still beaten just over a length and he probably won't need to improve much on either of his runs this season to play a leading role here. I'm expecting a good run from him.
Thatsy is a grand, chasing type who showed up well as a point-to-pointer last season when he won first time out and then finished second on his only other run a few weeks later. He's got a grand way of going and I've been keen to get him started for the season but I'd say he does want a dig in the ground so that's why he hasn't run before now. I'm happy with what he has shown at home but I know that he will improve a good deal as a result of this debut run.
Best Chance: Champagne Classic (15:25)
You can also listen to what Gordon Elliott thinks about his past week below...