Acapella Bourgeois set for fresh start
Acapella Bourgeois makes his first appearance since joining Willie Mullins in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase at Navan today.
The seven-year-old was a brilliant winner of the Ten Up Novice Chase over the course and distance last season when trained by the now-retired Sandra Hughes, but disappointed in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham and again at Punchestown.
He must concede weight all round in this fiercely-competitive €100,000 contest, but bookmakers are not taking any chances, installing him as the clear favourite.
"I rode him myself at the Curragh the other day and he's a fabulous jumper," said Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father. "You could close your eyes on him and he's brilliant. He's working well and in great form at home."
Mullins has already claimed one major prize this season with a former Hughes inmate as Total Recall - who like Acapella Bourgeois carries the colours of the Slaneyville Syndicate - dominated his rivals in last month's Munster National at Limerick.
In the absence of Ruby Walsh, who broke his leg last weekend, Paul Townend takes the ride on Acapella Bourgeois.
Gordon Elliott, who has won the Troytown in each of the last three years, is typically well represented with no less than six contenders. The Cullentra team is made up of Roi Des Francs (Liam McKenna), Mala Beach (Davy Russell), Potters Point (Lisa O'Neill), General Principle (Jack Kennedy), Space Cadet (Brian Hayes) and Poormans Hill (Andrew Ring).
General Principle, who was fifth in last season's Irish Grand National, warmed up for his Troytown bid with a very promising comeback run over hurdles at Clonmel recently.
"He ran very well over hurdles last time and I think he'll go well Sunday," said Elliott.
The Alan Fleming-trained Hurricane Darwin arrives in tip-top shape after winning his last two starts at Navan and Clonmel. Fleming said: "He has a lovely weight on his back (10st 8lb) and he's going in there with plenty of confidence. "It looks a very good race this year."
Other contenders in a 22-strong field include John Ryan's Icantsay, Joseph O'Brien's pair of Tesseract and Arkwrisht and Bonny Kate from Noel Meade's yard.
Samcro puts his unbeaten record and huge reputation on the line in the Monksfield Novice Hurdle.
The son of Germany cost Gigginstown House Stud an eye-watering £335,000 at the Goffs UK sale at Aintree in April of last year after winning his only point-to-point and while he has a long way to go to repay that huge investment, he has made an impressive start.
Elliott's charge won three bumpers last season and having justified extremely cramped odds when making a perfect start to his hurdling career at Punchestown in mid-October, he steps up to two and a half miles for a Grade Three contest Elliott won for the third time in six years with Death Duty 12 months ago.
Samcro faces eight rivals, including stable companion Delta Work. Other contenders include Jessica Harrington's Jetz, the Willie Mullins-trained Good Thyne Tara and Half The Odds from Noel Meade's yard.
Sunday Indo Sport