Timeform preview the racing at Navan on Sunday, which includes the ultra-competitive Troytown Chase.
"A 10 lb rise in the weights looks justified..."
Timeform on Tout Est Permis
The Troytown Chase is one of Ireland's premier handicaps, one of the most competitive races of its type, and a maximum field of 25 are set to go to post for this year's renewal. Gordon Elliott is building a remarkable record in the race, having won each of the last four renewals and, unsurprisingly, he is well represented once again, with no fewer than 12 runners (Presenting Julio is also a reserve).
Out Sam is one of the most prominent in the betting, and also tops Timeform weight-adjusted ratings (however he does have the Timeform squiggle), having proved at least as good as ever when recording his first win for this yard on his return in the Cork National earlier this month, beating stablemate Rogue Angel by one and three quarter lengths. He applied himself better than has usually been the case that day, and a subsequent 8 lb rise still leaves him fairly treated on the pick of his form, but he is an out-and-out stayer who isn't sure to appreciate this drop back in trip. Rogue Angel has looked resurgent this season, and should remain competitive, but there's no reason why he should reverse the form.
The J.P. McManus-owned Squouateur remains a maiden over fences, but there's no doubt he is capable of winning a race of this nature from his current mark. Sent off the second favourite for the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival last season, connections clearly think he has plenty of ability, and he will unlikely lack for fitness on his first run for seven months, so commands respect.
Irish Grand National Winner General Principle is also of interest, equally effective back at three miles, and shaped better than the bare result when sent off second favourite in this race 12 months ago, finishing seventh. He proved better than ever at Fairyhouse on his final start, but will need another career best to defy a 5 lb rise in another ultra-competitive handicap.
Away from Elliott's army of runners, it is Minella Beau who the bookmakers have installed as the early favourite. Trained by Willie Mullins, he is of obvious interest, yet to be asked a question when falling three out in the race won by Out Sam last time. It was too far out to suggest the outcome, but Minella Beau did look threatening, and is now 8 lb better off with that rival. This drop back to three miles won't be a problem and it is easy to see why he heads the market.
Spider Web was a well-backed winner of the Munster National at Limerick last time by three quarters of a length from Na Trachtalai Abu, looking held at the last but finding plenty to lead close home, proving without doubt that three miles is his optimum trip. There could be more to come from him, an 8 lb rise not looking insurmountable, and it would be folly to ignore his claims.
The one to side with, though, could be Tout Est Permis, who was strong in the betting and made a winning start for Noel Meade at Galway in October, travelling smoothly and asserting nicely on the run-in to win by six lengths. He looked a different proposition that day, winning with a fair bit more in hand than the margin suggests, and should have even more to offer on that evidence. A 10 lb rise in the weights looks justified, and for all this is a much stronger race, double-figure odds look enticing for one of the more upwardly-mobile types in the race.
The Monksfield Novices' Hurdle earlier on the card could also go the way of Noel Meade, who saddles First Approach. The lightly-raced five-year-old made a good impression when making a winning hurdling debut at Downpatrick earlier this month, jumping far better than his rivals. There should be a fair bit more to come from him, and he is expected to take this rise in class in his stride. Dinons has won his last five starts over hurdles and is accorded plenty of respect for Gordon Elliott, but he is very much a galloper, and isn't sure to be suited by this drop back in trip.
Unfortunately, Mengli Khan hasn't been declared for the beginners' chase later on the card, denying us a rematch between the Supreme third and fourth, but Paloma Blue stands his ground and he's fancied to make a winning debut over fences in a race won by the best of Willie Mullins in recent years, Al Boum Photo following in the footsteps of Vautour, Douvan and Min when scoring 12 months ago. Mullins is unrepresented this year, but Paloma Blue has long appealed as the type to flourish over the bigger obstacles, and should prove too classy for Duca de Thaix, who has experience on his side, and may be the one to give Henry de Bromhead's ace the most to do.
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Back Tout Est Permis in the Troytown Chase at Navan on Sunday