Limini's absence makes task easier for Jezki
What was shaping into a rather intriguing clash between Jezki and Limini in Gowran's feature this afternoon alas was not to be.
Instead, the 2014 Champion Hurdle winner may have most to fear from Tombstone, which was two-and-three-quarter lengths behind him on what was both of their seasonal debuts at Navan. A curious aspect of today's Grade Three Red Mills Trial Hurdle is that the five-year-old Rashaan must give Jezki 8lb.
What Jessica Harrington - perhaps in two minds as to what Cheltenham race to aim JP McManus' steed at - will learn from today is up for debate. However, at least a win should prove he can continue to show something like his best form.
Jezki is now into as low as 9/2 for the Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle on March 16. Whether this amounts to an ideal prep for that is pretty questionable but there cannot be too many options. Perhaps his owner was keen to run Sutton Place in tomorrow's Boyne Hurdle.
The turnout for the Grade Two Red Mills Chase is not especially inspiring. Ballycasey was beaten 15 lengths in it last year yet is going to go off long odds-on in all likelihood 12 months on.
Clarcam's confidence should have been helped by his winning a lesser event recently and it is not out of the question that he can give the grey a race. Mozoltov's trainer Mouse Morris's last winner was back on New Year's Day.
The maiden chase is a cracker. The Cheltenham target of Mall Dini has not been revealed as yet. He may prefer better ground than he encounters today but jumps brilliantly and is narrowly preferred to Bachasson.
The Gatechecker did the job stylishly at Naas and, while he has a good deal more to do in the At The Races Careys Cottage Cup Handicap Chase, he is capable of following up. The exasperating Killer Crow might outrun his odds but even Gordon Elliott has likely no faith left in the horse.
Willie Mullins introduces Dandy Mag in the Sea Moon & Shantou At Burgage Stud Maiden Hurdle. By Kaldoun, this horse's name may suggest that he is by Dandy Man but in fact it indicates something else: he is a half-brother to the brilliant mare, Vroum Vroum Mag.
Intriguingly, Mullins also unveils a three-parts brother to Hurricane Fly, Blitz, in the in the EBF Ronan Lawlor Memorial Mares (Pro/Am) Flat Race. This race honours the young work-rider killed some years ago.
It is worth noting that Blitz's full sister, Avichi, was not much good. However, this has the make-up of a winnable bumper. Concordin may be able to take the handicap hurdle, a race that makes limited betting appeal.
There will be an element of intrigue about the opening maiden hurdle at Navan tomorrow as Broken Soul, which will presumably start odds-on, was second to Supreme favourite Melon at Leopardstown. He faces nothing of Melon's speed in this pretty modest heat.
Only four contest the Grade Three Flyingbolt Novice Steeplechase, which is nevertheless a proper race for the class. Identity Thief should put his Leopardstown mishap behind him but is no good thing against Ballyoisin, a most promising Presenting which jumps superbly.
The Ladbrokes Ireland Boyne Hurdle is a worthy Grade Two. Sutton Place is on the cusp of a five-timer and, while this is no cakewalk, he is clearly on the edge of Champion Hurdle class.
The extra week of rest he was given since his Naas win - he might have run last weekend at Newbury - only bolsters the claims of a horse that has done more than any other to advertise the stallion, Mahler.
The conditionals' handicap hurdle can provide Gordon Elliott with another winner. He flopped last time at Thurles but Dounikos is a fairly promising staying horse and he may have an extra bit of class.
JP McManus seems to have a stronger army of horses than ever and Anibale Fly is fancied to take the Grade Two Ten Up Novice Steeplechase. That Derek O'Connor rides McManus' Edwulf implies that this may be a prep for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham.
Anibale Fly beat the favourite for that race, A Genie In Abottle, at Naas. He has lived up to Tony Martin's high hopes. One of the more appealing bets of the day at a price is course winner Admiral Brian in the P.S. Supplies Doors & Floors Handicap Hurdle, while the well-bred Poli Roi should take the finale for Elliott, who does especially well at Navan.