Lynch to outfox Navan rivals on classy Darwins
Navan has succeeded in facilitating a well-supported jumps card today despite the prevailing fast ground.
Just two of the seven scheduled races fall below the magic eight-runner mark for regular each-way betting purposes, with the €20,000 feature faring worst.
Only four horses have been declared for the Le Grande Chase, and it might not be much of a contest if Darwins Fox lives up to his billing as the top-rated contender.
Henry de Bromhead's eight-year-old hasn't run over fences since disappointing at Leopardstown in March.
Darwins Fox previously won twice and been placed in five of eight chasing encounters, and he is fancied to concede weight to inferior rivals here.
Andrew Lynch's mount was successful over flights at Cork recently after running respectably in the Galway Hurdle, so he is clearly in good heart.
Lynch has been joined by Paul Carberry and Mark and Philip Enright in recently returning from injury.
Ruby Walsh and Bryan Cooper hope to end their respective lay-offs in the coming weeks, and this afternoon sees Mikey Fogarty back in competition for a first time since fracturing vertebrae in his back in a fall from Bishopsfurze in the Topham Chase at Aintree in the spring.
Fogarty's best ride is arguably Theatre Mill in the Le Grande, but Darwins Fox would need to underperform for Paul Nolan's charge to win.
Lynch has another interesting mount on Matthew Smith's Rawnaq in the beginners' chase. Third to Flaxen Flare at Galway last time, Rawnaq has a chance, but preferred is the more experienced Benemeade.
Noel Meade's six-year-old son of Beneficial improved to be second on his second start over fences at Listowel, pushing Security Breach all the way.
Paul Carberry's mount drops in distance to two-and-a-half miles now, but that might be to his advantage, as each of his three wins have been over this trip or slightly shorter.
Carberry is also napped to take the opening maiden hurdle aboard Gordon Elliott's Listowel runner-up, Tom's Article.
Tony Mullins' Fearachain won a bumper at the Harvest Festival and Des McDonogh's Little Haarth plundered one over course and distance three weeks ago. Tom's Article ran away with a Downpatrick bumper back in July, and he has the benefit of three hurdle starts coming into this.
After he finished second to Tandem here earlier in the month, Egyptian Warrior improved past him to score at Listowel, but there was no shame in that, as the winner simply had a more potent turn of foot.
All in all, it amounted to a really solid performance, so Tom's Article ought to account for a lesser bunch of rivals now.
In the conditions hurdle that follows, Tom Mullins' Grand Partner gets the nod to complete a hat-trick under Paul Townend after a two-month break.
Based on official ratings, Well Tuned is the danger, as she receives 12lbs from Grand Partner despite being rated three pounds superior. However, following decisive wins at Cork and Ballinrobe, Grand Partner is on a steep upward trajectory.