It's a busy day for Gordon Elliott who will saddle more than 20 runners at Navan, including 10 in the Troytown, a race the Betfair Ambassador admits he tries hard to win...
"I know he only just got home in his maiden hurdle at Punchestown last month but he would have needed that run and should be better and fitter here. He is coming along nicely at home and hopefully he will take the beating."
- Gordon Elliott on Eskylane
Good chance of making amends after recent fall
He fell on his hurdling debut at Gowran but had actually done everything right up to the point that he came down and Jack (Kennedy) was very happy with the feel that he gave him that day. I'm hoping that he will make up into a nice staying novice hurdler at this sort of trip this season and that fall doesn't seem to have knocked his confidence at all so hopefully he will give a good account of himself.
Eskylane the one to beat but Received could run well also
Eskylane was a high class bumper horse last season and I'm hoping he will make up into a quality novice hurdler this winter. He will probably come into his own over two and a half miles but two miles at a galloping track like Navan should be right up his street. I know he only just got home in his maiden hurdle at Punchestown last month but he would have needed that run and should be better and fitter here. He is coming along nicely at home and hopefully he will take the beating.
One Down is a grand horse. He won first time out over hurdles at Gowran and then ran quite respectably to finish third to Call Me Lyreen at Sligo next time. There should be more to come from him as a hurdler but I'd say he is probably more one for handicaps than graded races and I wouldn't be surprised if he found a few of these too strong.
Wide Receiver was just touched off on his hurdling debut at Punchestown. He is going to have to improve a good deal from that run but I know from what he has been showing me at home that he has come on for that run and he seems to be in good shape. I think he could run well and I do see him as having graded race potential so hopefully he will run a nice race although a longer trip would be better for him.
Both seem very well and could run good races
Cracking Smart ended last season in good shape and showed that he was returning to the level he reached as a novice hurdler a few seasons ago. We did try chasing with him at the start of last season but he didn't enjoy it and it took him a while to find his form last season. However, I thought he was very good in the Boyne Hurdle at this track in February and he ran a great race under a big weight to finish fourth in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham last time. He is in good shape and working well so hopefully he will make a bright start to his season.
Sire Du Berlais has won the last two runnings of the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham and I thought he produced a career best effort there last March when beating The Storyteller. His best handicap form would suggest that he is worth his place in races like this so it will be interesting to see how he gets on here. He does tend to need his first run of the season but he seems very well at home and he is showing me that he could run well.
Plenty that could go well among my 10 Troytown runners
The Troytown is the biggest race of the year at Navan and is one that we always try hard to win and there's a great pot on offer so that's why we have supported it so strongly this year.
Death Duty is a former dual Grade 1 winner who has been troubled by injury since he was a novice chaser. At home he shows me that plenty of his old ability is still there and I thought that he ran very well for a long way in one of the handicap chases at Cheltenham last season. This won't be easy for him off top weight but I wouldn't be shocked to see him run well.
Dounikos is a good horse on his day as he showed when winning a Grade 2 as a novice chaser and when winning the Grand National Trial the following season. He is high enough in the weights at the moment and he has a few questions to answer after a low key time of things last season but he can go well fresh.
Roaring Bull does tend to come forward well from his first run of the season so I'm expecting plenty of improvement from his run in the Munster National. He's not the easiest to predict but he did win a Paddy Power Chase last season and he actually ran well in this race last year when he just over raced a little bit. He's in good shape.
Aforementioned won the Munster National last time. He is 11lbs higher in the weights and this looks a better race but I would say he is still one of our stronger contenders and he seems to have gotten his act together over fences so I could see him running another big race. He's a progressive horse and is less exposed than many of our other runners.
Elwood is a useful horse when everything falls into place for him and I do think that he could win one of these good staying handicaps at some stage this season. He does have the habit of making a couple of bad mistakes during his race and he won't be able to get away with that sort of jumping in a race like this so his chances revolve around producing a clean round of jumping.
Gun Digger showed up well for a long way in last week's Cork National until getting tired. I did think he would need that run and that should have brought him forward so if he runs a similarly enthusiastic race I could see him showing up well.
General Principle is a former Irish National winner and, like Gun Digger, he just got tired at Cork last week. He does seem to be a horse that comes to himself through the second half of the season so maybe we won't see the best of him until the spring.
Cheb De Kerviniou ran well in a number of good staying handicap chases last season and I do think that he will win one of these races at some stage. This is his first outing of the season so he will probably need this run and he is one who might just need heavier ground to be seen at his best.
Minella Till Dawn was well beaten on his comeback at Galway but will come on plenty for that run. On his day he remains capable of running well in a race such as this so don't be surprised if he shows up well but he does look to have plenty on his plate here.
At no stage did Diamond Turf travel in a handicap chase at Down Royal last weekend. That race was over two miles and possibly at this stage of his career he does need further so we are going to give him a try at this trip and see how he gets on. He has plenty of ability but isn't one that you could rely on.
Goes well fresh but likely we're playing for second here
He did well for us over fences last season when he won a two mile handicap chase at Leopardstown and finished second in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham. A Plus Tard is going to take an awful lot of beating and realistically I think we are playing for second here but our horse goes well fresh and he should be able to give a good account of himself. He might be one that we will switch back to hurdles for a good handicap at some stage this season.
Good run expected but he'll come on for outing
I was really pleased with Easywork's novice hurdle season which concluded with a fine second to Envoi Allen at Cheltenham. I would imagine that he will be at his best over two and a half miles or even further this season but he has plenty of pace too and two miles wasn't a problem for him over hurdles. He is in good shape and looking well so I'd be hoping for a good run although I know he will come on for this.
Needs to improve more after hike in rating
On his first handicap outing he won nicely at Cork last month and he would have been more impressive but for some untidy jumping. I think there is more to come from him as a hurdler but he is up 12lbs for winning at Cork and this does look a better race so he will need to step forward again. I don't think he will have any problems coming back to two miles at a track like this.
Hard to be confident in the fnale
Multifactorial was quite a useful horse in bumpers but hasn't been as good since he went hurdling. He can make the odd bad mistake which really doesn't help but two and a three quarter miles at a track like this should help him and allow him to get into some sort of rhythm. You couldn't be confident about his chance but I know that if he puts it altogether he could run well off his current mark.
Tiger Twenty Two is a grand horse but is probably more of a summer campaigner. He did win at Bellewstown a few months ago but he is still 7lbs higher than when winning there and he is coming back off a break too so I would say that he is best watched for the moment.