Tony Keenan goes through a quality card at Navan and finds his best bets...
"Everything Russian Bill has done in his career to date suggests he will improve for three miles and he should be clear favourite for this competitive Grade C handicap."
We had some hardship last week with the two Noel Meade horses tipped arguably unlucky. Wes Hardin would have been, at worst, a close second without trouble-in-running while Killer Miller was clearly the best horse in the Florida Pearl but the fences are there to be jumped. The Meade second time out angle is still one to be with and I have one that fits those criteria this week.
Of those horses that ran last Sunday, Bellshill looked a serious tool over hurdles on ground he wouldn't have liked while Commeragh Trix was unlucky not to taste victory at Cork, making his debut against winners. That form looks good enough to win just about any normal bumper.
Navan, 12:40 - Take a ride on Coney Island
Mick Thonic was clearly the horse to be with here, a hurdle winner running in a maiden (!!), but Horse Racing Ireland copped that he wasn't allowed to run on Friday morning and has since been taken out. In his absence, Coney Island is worth a bet in the place market and anything the right side of 2.01/1 would be generous.
Coney Island looked a follower on debut, his head a bit high and flicking the tail, but he shouldn't be evens to hit the frame with hurdling experience and fitness in his favour. The form of his last run is working out too.
Navan 13:10 - Back Dallas Cowboy on Sunday
These novices are much of a muchness on what they have achieved over hurdles and it might be worth chancing one of the bigger prices in the hope it improves. Falcon Crest was impressive last time but he was keen over two miles and now steps up in trip; his trainer has described him as 'a quick horse on good ground.' Ten Times Better is another that might want faster ground.
The race could develop into a slog given the ground and track while there is plenty of possible pace in the field. Moylisha Tim looks a little overpriced at 13.012/1 but Dallas Cowboy might be the horse in the field best suited by a slog; he looked all stamina last time and his hurdling form is no worse than that of his stablemate Cogryhill.
Navan 14:40 - Empire and Tulsa the ones to focus on
This Troytown doesn't look a strong renewal and plenty of those in single figures have holes in their claims. Azorian is an infrequent winner and looks flattered by his third in a small field last time; Mullaghnoe River comes off a 580-day break; Dromnea is a dubious stayer; Ballychorus will hardly like the ground and her chase wins have come against a temperamental mare and in a three-runner race.
Pricing this race up, I had Empire Of Dirt and Tulsa Jack as 5.04/1 joint favourites and both are worth backing at bigger. Empire Of Dirt has lots of upside; a graded novice hurdler, he won a strong handicap at Naas last season and is only seven pounds higher now. Tulsa Jack is thriving; he hosed up last time getting a sectional upgrade and his form figures over three miles plus read:324F12311.
Navan 15:10 - Russian can build on promising return
Everything Russian Bill has done in his career to date suggests he will improve for three miles and he should be clear favourite for this competitive Grade C handicap. He looked the horse to take from the Naas race that a few of these ran in last time; a mistake three out cost him valuable momentum but he came home much the best under tender handling.
It was a similar run to his fourth at the Punchestown Festival in April, again over an insufficient trip, and his trainer has surely had this race in mind since. The likes of Fine Rightly, Buck Dancing and Pencilhimin are fair prices but I'll be disappointed if Russian Bill can't go close.
2 Points Place Back Coney Island @ 2.01/1 or bigger in the Navan 12:40
1 Point Back Dallas Cowboy @ 11.010/1 or bigger in the Navan 13:10
1 Point Place Back Dallas Cowboy @ 3.02/1 or bigger in the Navan 13:10
1.5 Points Back Empire Of Dirt @ 7.06/1 or bigger in the Navan 14:40
1.5 Points Back Tulsa Jack @ 8.07/1 or bigger in the Navan 14:40
1.5 Points Back Russian Bill @ 7.06/1 or bigger in the Navan 15:10
1.5 Points Pace Back Russian Bill @ 2.47/5 or bigger in the Navan 15:10