Russell poised to enjoy a winning reunion with Road To Riches
Published 02/04/2016 | 02:30
Road To Riches is the star attraction in this afternoon's Webster Cup Chase at Navan.
With Bryan Cooper suspended, Davy Russell will partner the Gigginstown Stud-owned nine-year-old for a first time since they saw off Foxrock in a Naas beginners' chase in November 2013.
Foxrock is again in opposition now, having finished behind Road To Riches when they clashed in the Hennessy Gold Cup in February.
Ted Walsh eventually opted to skip Cheltenham with him, and there is a chance that decision will stand to him now. Road To Riches had a hard race in defeat when chasing down Vautour in the Ryanair Chase, so he could be vulnerable.
Smashing may be the only other horse with a chance in the €42,500 Grade Two. Henry De Bromhead's grey couldn't cope with the quicker fractions on good ground in the Ryanair. He might not have had as punishing an outing as Road To Riches, and he will certainly be in his element in the likely deep going over this two-and-a-half-mile trip.
Still, Road To Riches is the best horse in the race. If Noel Meade weren't as sure as he could be that his stable star has recovered sufficiently, he would hardly turn him out 16 days after his latest admirable turn in the Cotswolds.
Russell might also go close aboard Thebarrowman in the two-mile maiden hurdle. Despite a field of 20, this doesn't look like a maiden of any real depth, and Adrian Keatley's Mahler gelding has been impressive in winning both of its starts in a point-to-point and a bumper.
If Thebarrowman takes to hurdling, then he should stretch his unbeaten record to three. In the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase, four of the seven runners boast a combined age of 45.
One of those is Denise Foster's Tipped Up Harry, which has seemingly bloomed late in life following a wind operation.
The 10-year-old unseated two-out with a race at its mercy in Clonmel in February, before then defying a three-pound hike to make amends here.
Tipped Up Harry is 10 pounds higher and maybe that will curtail his Indian summer, but, such was the authority that he showed last time that he might have another day in him for Robbie Power.
Hes Our Vinnie is another that is fancied to secure a second win on the spin in the two-mile-six-furlong handicap hurdle.
Terence O'Brien's seven-year-old finally fulfilled his earlier promise when drawing eight lengths clear at Limerick off a mark of 95. While David Splaine's mount is seven pounds higher now, there is every chance that he still has something in hand, so he gets the nod to follow up.
In the two-mile handicap, Sandra Hughes's Smoking Big Cigars is worth a look in a first-time visor and tongue strap under Jonathan Burke, while the day's nap vote falls to Floral Fantasy in the mares' maiden hurdle.
Enda Bolger's JP McManus-owned daughter of Flemensfirth won on her sole point-to-point outing a year ago. She has taken time to get the hang of things over hurdles, but there was plenty to like about her recent effort to be fourth at Limerick.
Hughes' runner-up West Bridge re-opposes, but the Mark Walsh-ridden Floral Fantasy might be better equipped to step up.