Going to Navan yesterday, I personally believed a decent attendance would witness Rubi Light claim a third Red Mills Chase and do exactly what an odds-on favourite should do. Having been available at 20/1 yesterday morning for the Ryanair Chase, I felt that punters would be lucky to be offered half those odds shortly after 1.30pm, but instead he trailed home the last of three finishers, was found to be lame post race and is now backable at 40/1 if you so wish.
Unfortunately, 400/1 is probably more apt, as any horse who pulls up lame in a Grade Two on extremely heavy ground three weeks to the day that the Cheltenham Festival begins is probably not going to even be on the boat over.
After finishing third and fifth in the last two runnings of the Ryanair, it now appears that Rubi Light and connections will have to wait at least another 12 months to try and emulate the joyous scenes that followed their Sublimity win in the Champion Hurdle.
All credit to Navan for getting the meeting to go ahead, and having seen the track and listened to some that rode on it, it is certainly no wonder that it was unraceable on Sunday and a precautionary inspection was called for Monday morning ahead of yesterday's card.
It was extremely testing out there and so much so that Thousand Stars, who doesn't mind a good day out in the muck, wasn't able to cope with it one bit and was last in his Boyne Hurdle assignment.
Navan yesterday turned out to be more an Aintree trials day than a Cheltenham trials day, however, and just as well.
Personally speaking, I wouldn't like to be backing any horse that ran at Navan yesterday to win at Cheltenham in three weeks' time. It was just so gruelling.
Of the four Grade Two winners, Chicago Grey (pictured) goes straight to Aintree, On His Own will have another run prior to Aintree, Buckers Bridge is only a possible for the Jewson, and Terminal will stay at home if his trainer gets his way but may travel to Cheltenham on the basis that the owners live on that side of the water and may want a runner there.
Terminal is the most likely of yesterday's runners to head for the Cotswolds, but even Willie Mullins admitted: "I wouldn't be overly keen to go as I'd imagine he had too hard a race there." Time will tell.
At this stage, despite the fact that we have some informative races still to come at Fairyhouse and Naas over the weekend, it would be hard to believe that any Irish winners there who will be at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival haven't already run their last race prior to the meeting. All in all, it simply means the studying can commence as very little more evidence is going to be revealed, apart from, of course, what races those with multiple entries will line up in. God help us there.