Saturday 20 January 2018

Elliott's Endeavor may be rewarded

Elliott is to be lauded for his five-pronged assault on the Grade Two Lismullen. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Elliott is to be lauded for his five-pronged assault on the Grade Two Lismullen. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Gordon Elliott has more runners in tomorrow's Lismullen Hurdle than Willie Mullins will have had all week long.

Paddy Power have cut the apparent heir apparent to 9/4 for the trainers' title. He still has a long way to go to rival Mullins' ability to win Grade Ones but the season builds up beautifully.

The weather will be relatively warm for Navan's Sunday offering, which will comfort racegoers as this is justifiably called the coldest racetrack in Ireland. It is high-class fare and Elliott is to be lauded for his five-pronged assault on the Grade Two Lismullen.

There does not appear to be a great deal between the quintet and, at around 25/1, Noble Endeavor may be the forgotten horse under Robbie Colgan. Touched off at Cheltenham off 140 last year, he showed similarly useful form chasing and he has the ability to get involved, with his lack of a recent run no apparent concern.

Mullins goes to war with the hugely talented Shaneshill, Jer's Girl has her first start of the campaign and Dedigout begins life post-Tony Martin. Let's just hope all eight tog out.

A marginally more lucrative event, the Fortria Chase, is another cracker. Tell Us More was one of those to switch from Willie Mullins to Gordon Elliott, a move that did not arrest the horse's tendency to jump left.

However, it did not stop him slamming The Game Changer at Naas. It is increasingly apparent that the maligned Scorpion is producing horses which are not so much irresolute but reliant on nice ground. If Tell Us More can run to form, he may have a shade too much pace for Ballycasey, which likely wants further.

The Game Changer will canter for most of what should be an intriguing race.

The For Auction Novice Hurdle, a Grade Three, sees recent Down Royal winner Wakea attempt to prove whether or not he can live with his exalted rating; in theory, it gives Galway winner Le Martalin a lot to do. However, the race should be run to suit this hugely promising horse, which should have too many guns for the enigmatic Labaik.

The EBF Beginners' Chase may as well be a Graded contest, such is its quality. While he did not live up to high hopes hurdling, the gigantic Tycoon Prince has now found his true vocation. He also has Ruby Walsh's assistance, though Gurteen and Anibale Fly are hugely promising recruits also.


Ruby gave Artesone a beautiful, patient steer in winning a Wexford maiden a fortnight ago. He has more to do in the opener but is a progressive horse which seems better-suited to restrained tactics.

The Meath Farm Machinery Handicap Hurdle will be a lively betting heat and gambled-on Down Royal winner Wolfslair is capable of following up, especially with Cian Collins helping to negate his penalty.

By the time the selection, Westland Row, goes to post in the finale, it will be getting chilly. It is Navan, after all, and little warms the heart more than the quality of jumps action racegoers can savour tomorrow.

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