Mark Milligan has been in fine form of late and returns with a couple more selections for Sunday's action at Navan...
"It wouldn't be the first time we've seen a runner from this yard improve markedly with experience and he very much has the size and scope to develop into a useful chaser"
There's a good seven-race card at Navan tomorrow, and as with the meeting at this track a fortnight ago, I thought it worth taking a little ramble through all the races. Hopefully we can find a bet or two on a day when the UK and Ireland is expected to get its first proper taste of winter weather.
A competitive 2m handicap hurdle kicks off proceedings at 12:50, with the progressive Clarens expected to take plenty of beating. The winner of a pair of conditional jockeys' races off 92 and 100 on his last two starts, this son of Dream Ahead now has to defy a further 9-lb rise in this contest.
Ridden by useful claimer Jack Foley to both of those wins, that rider's 5 lb allowance will come in handy in these deeper waters and Clarens looks sure to put up a bold display. I'm not sure he can be recommended at the likely prices, however.
Elliott's exciting novices
Gordon Elliott's exciting Au Fleuron makes his hurdling debut in the 2m 4f maiden at 13:20.
An easy bumper winner on debut for Denis Paul Murphy at Tipperary in March, he was then sold for £220,000 to Bective Stud and makes his hurdling bow in their colours here.
Obviously, this isn't a race we need to get involved in from a betting perspective, with Au Fleuron likely to be sent off a short price, but Cheltenham ante-post quotes will no doubt abound should this one win in impressive fashion.
Gordon Elliott looks to hold the key to the following 2m Grade 3 novice hurdle (13:50) too, fielding both Hollow Games and Ginto.
A wide-margin point winner who fetched £255,000, Hollow Games has remained unbeaten in three starts under Rules, including when easily landing a novice hurdle at Down Royal on his return just over a fortnight ago.
As with Au Fleuron in the previous contest, Hollow Games rates a most exciting prospect and is sure to take all the beating, though again there will be little juice in this one's price.
It could be argued too that stable companion Ginto has an equally impressive profile, so it may be that Hollow Games doesn't have things all his own way. He showed useful form when winning a bumper here in February and then made a successful winning debut over hurdles over this C&D just two weeks ago.
Of the rest, the only relatively solid runner against the front pair in the market is Joseph O'Brien's Lunar Display, though he has an exposed profile compared to the Elliott team and it will be something of a disappointment if he was up to turning either of those two over.
Gaspard a fair bet
The 2m 6f handicap hurdle at 14:20 has a much more enticing look to it from a betting perspective and I'm keen to get stuck into Gaspard Du Seuil at anything around the 5/1 mark.
Second on both starts this season, it was the latter of those that really took my eye, with Henry De Bromhead's charge going through the race like one ahead of his mark before losing out only to an equally progressive rival in Farrawaybay.
A 3 lb rise could well be lenient in light of that and I expect him to give us a good run for our money here, particularly as likely favourite Jimmy Jimmy should take a decent chunk out of the market.
Scopey Lord Royal to put up bold show
It's a general theme of the day that Gordon Elliott holds a strong hand in most of the day's races and that's no less evident in the feature contest, the 3m Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase at 14:50.
Of the Elliott sextet that go to post, Farclas and Run Wild Fred may be the standard bearers, though it's not hard to make a case for Defi Bleu and Definite Plan too.
However, I'm going to swerve the Elliott runners in here and take a chance on Lord Royal each-way. I say take a chance because it could be that Willie Mullins' charge is still a little a raw for a big field handicap such as this, but he has plenty of potential and is still very much unexposed.
While not obviously well treated off an opening handicap mark of 144 but it wouldn't be the first time we've seen a runner from this yard improve markedly with experience and he very much has the size and scope to develop into a useful chaser.
Hopefully he can cope with the rough and tumble of this sort of contest, and if he does, he has the potential to be right in the shake-up at the business end of proceedings.
A trappy end to proceedings
There shouldn't be much between Cayd Boy and Mt Leinster in the 2m 1f beginners chase at 15:20, with the former possibly possessing just the most scope for improvement of the pair.
A case can also be made for the mare Kapard, who makes her chasing debut here and also receives the handy 7-lb allowance from that pair. This race looks a bit of minefield, though, and is probably best watched.
Equally trappy is the closing 2m listed mares bumper at 15:50, where we once again get to see The Model Kingdom, who made an impressive start to life at Galway last month. She'll be right in the thick of things if running to the same level again, though likely won't have things all her own way in this deeper race.
This isn't really a race that floats my boat from a punting perspective and hopefully by the time this one is off we'll have already made a tidy profit on the day.
Mark's 2021 P&L
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