Sunday 25 June 2017

Vigil works for Smullen as he seals Navan hat-trick

Vigil broke his maiden tag on the Flat with a gritty success to complete a 71/1 hat-trick for Pat Smullen at Navan yesterday. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Vigil broke his maiden tag on the Flat with a gritty success to complete a 71/1 hat-trick for Pat Smullen at Navan yesterday. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Dermot Weld's smart bumper performer Vigil broke his maiden tag on the Flat with a gritty success to complete a 71/1 hat-trick for Pat Smullen at Navan yesterday.

Vigil was fifth in both the 2014 and 2015 Cheltenham Festival bumpers before taking sixth in last season's Neptune Novices Hurdle and went one better than his first Flat start when runner-up to She's A Star at this venue a fortnight ago.

Smullen sent the 7/4 market leader to the front from flagfall and the partnership was all out in the final 100 yards to hold off the strong challenge of Aidan O'Brien's Bay Of Biscay.

Earlier, the champion jockey was at his strongest as he steered home two winners for English trainer Peter Midgley - the first of which came in the five-furlong handicap as One Boy justified 11/2 favouritism after being prominent throughout and edging out Doonard Prince by a half-length.

Smullen sealed a brace for the visiting Midgley on Giant Spark in the six-furlong handicap. The 3/1 favourite led from the start but looked in trouble as he came under pressure a furlong out, but he kept on doggedly to get the better of Rattling Jewel by a length and a quarter.

Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning combined to claim the fillies handicap over ten furlongs with Ceol Na Nog (8/1) which dug deep to hold off Dragon Fei by half a length.

Ger Lyons claimed the opening five-furlong maiden for juveniles as Colin Keane ensured that Imagine If (6/4 favourite) inched out O'Brien's Elizabeth Browning by a nose. However, the roles were reversed in the one-mile maiden for two-year-olds as the Ballydoyle handler's Perfect Storm (7/1) was driven to a half-length success from the Lyons-trained Harbour Beacon by the O'Brien's daughter Ana.

Meanwhile, Grand National fourth Gilgamboa could make his seasonal debut in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on November 5 as long as the ground is suitable.

Trainer Enda Bolger reports the JP McManus-owned eight-year-old to have benefited from his summer break and is looking forward to the new campaign.

A Grade One novice chase winner in April 2015, Gilgamboa did not get his head in front last term but took on the best in such races as the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, the Irish Gold Cup and Ryanair Chase.

He signed off for the season with an admirable fourth in the world-famous marathon at Aintree in the spring.

"He's entered in Down Royal for the James Nicholson race," said Bolger. "At the moment that's the plan. I'd say we'll kick off with him there, but it would depend on the ground. If it's anywhere on the quick side, he won't run.

Across the water, classy hurdler Thistlecrack could make his eagerly-awaited debut over fences at Chepstow on Tuesday if the ground is suitable.

Trainer Colin Tizzard reports last season's champion staying hurdler to be ready to return to action but will only run him if he is satisfied with the conditions at the Welsh venue. He has given Thistlecrack an entry in the novice chase over just short of three miles.

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