Ttebbob back in good form
Ttebbob bids to bounce back to winning ways when returning to Navan for the Flyingbolt Novice Chase. Jessica Harrington's charge proved electric around the same venue when running out a facile winner in Grade Three company in December, but subsequently failed to fire when pulling up behind the brilliant Douvan at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Connections felt the relatively quick return to action was to blame for that disappointing display, and his trainer is confident she has her seven-year-old back in top share for this weekend's intriguing Grade Two assignment against just two opponents.
"He seems back in good form and I'm happy," said Harrington. "Hopefully it's onwards and upwards now. He's had a nice break since Christmas. There are just the three runners but you never know as they can be very chancy races."
Willie Mullins saddles both of Ttebbob's rivals. Tell Us More, a highly-regarded novice hurdler last season, aims to build on his success at Gowran Park last time when he opened his account over fences. The Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding gave some cause for concern by jumping out to his left in the closing stages and connections are hoping he can raise his game today.
"It's a small field, but it's an interesting race, and if Ttebbob comes back to his early-season form he'll definitely be the one to beat," said Patrick Mullins. "Tell Us More has been a bit disappointing overall. We thought that he'd be well up to Grade One class. Hopefully fences and coming back in trip will be the making of him."
The four-miler at Cheltenham was nominated as a possible target for Tell Us More's stable companion Sambremont after his victory at Fairyhouse last month, but he drops back to a shade over two miles for this event under Ruby Walsh. The progressive six-year-old is a full-brother to leading Gold Cup contender Djakadam.
"Sambremont needs to step up on what he's done so far. He is an improving horse, but you'd think he might be up against it on Sunday," said Mullins junior.
Black Hercules can carry on form at Navan
Black Hercules bids to make it three from three over fences in the Grade Two Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan this afternoon.
Willie Mullins' charge was a smart novice hurdler last season and has impressed on both his starts over the larger obstacles this term.
He opened his account with the minimum of fuss at Navan in December before following up in style in a Listed contest at Warwick last month and currently heads ante-post lists for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham next month. Black Hercules also holds entries in the RSA Chase and the JLT Novices' Chase, but Patrick Mullins hopes to convince his father to run in the longer National Hunt Chase, where he would likely take the ride.
"Nothing has been confirmed for Cheltenham - he is in the RSA as well - but I'll be sweet-talking Willie as much as I can to run in the four-miler!" he said.
Mullins also runs Punchestown winners Measureofmydreams and Pleasant Company.
The National Hunt Chase is the number one objective for Colin Bowe's stable star Shantou Flyer, which runs for the first time since finishing fifth in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse in late November.
Sunday Indo Sport