I've just about gotten over the shocks of last weekend at Leopardstown but the horses that took part might take longer to feel the better of their exertions. It's not so much the ground was bad - the going was officially no worse than the Christmas meeting - but the jockeys seemed caught unawares and had no respect for how deep it was. That led to a number of overly strongly-run races, notably the Gold Cup but also the Spring Juvenile, the handicap won by Blazer and the hunter chase. That combination of ground and pace could mean this meeting leaves its mark.
Navan 14:00 - Automated has most scope to improve
Alamein is a yo-yo horse, his performances up-and-down in nature, and while he could improve for the run last time, it's also possible he takes a backward step, the cheekpieces not working so well second time. Furthermore, he had the run of the race at Gowran, racing close to a tepid pace, and held his head high in the finish.
I like the claims of the third Automated from the same event to reverse form. He was too keen that day but still finished off his race well and slightly better ground will suit; it is rarely anything other than testing on Thyestes day. It's fair to expect him to improve for hurdling debut and Jack Kennedy takes off another three pounds.
Of the rest, Stuccodor doesn't seem to stay two miles over hurdles so the stiff track on soft going is against him while Thirsty Work's form is ordinary and got a knock on Saturday.
Navan 14:30 - Sambremont to spring surprise
This looks a process of elimination race. Ttebbob has the best form but his wretched Christmas run is relatively recent and you don't know what you're getting at a price of 1.654/6. Tell Us More looks a pure hype horse and having jumped poorly last time is worth taking on; the horse he beat last time spurned an easy opportunity yesterday.
That leaves Sambremont and he might be worth chancing at 8.07/1 in the hope Ttebbob won't run his race. Willie Mullins was talking going up in trip after last time but he showed plenty of speed last time, jumping notably slickly, and I expect him to get the better of Tell Us More at least.
Navan 16:00 - Pleasant can keep stablemate Company
Odds-against about Black Hercules overnight was fair and I expect him to win here; he would be a big player in the RSA Chase if taking his chance and is a proper banker if taking the softer route in the National Hunt Chase.
I don't like the two chasing him up in the betting here. The decision to run Monksland after just an eight day break is a risky one; he has been a fragile horse and those Leopardstown races last Saturday could take a while to get over. There are stamina doubts with Noble Endeavor but his attitude is a bigger concern; temperament has been bubbling under throughout his career but it came to the surface last time where he looked less than genuine.
Both the Mullins second strings are interesting as they won well on chase debut and should improve for the outing. Pleasant Company is preferred though. His form with Montys Meadow has worked out well and he was notably well-backed on his three hurdles runs for the yard last season. He's worth backing in the place, especially with three spots available, and it might be worth seeking out some without the favourite markets too.
1 Point Back Automated @ 3.7511/4 or bigger in the Navan 14:00
1 Point Back Sambremont @ 8.07/1 or bigger in the Navan 14:30
1.5 Points Place Back Pleasant Company @ 4.57/2 or bigger in the Navan 16:00