Sport Horse Racing

Friday 23 February 2018

Harrington and Power duo fancied to bag a brace over fences at Navan

29 November 2015; Trainer Willie Mullins after sending Long Dog out to win The Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle Grade 1. Horse Racing at the Fairyhouse Winter Festival. Fairyhouse, Co. Meath. Picture credit: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE
29 November 2015; Trainer Willie Mullins after sending Long Dog out to win The Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle Grade 1. Horse Racing at the Fairyhouse Winter Festival. Fairyhouse, Co. Meath. Picture credit: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

The rescheduling of Cork's Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase fixture for tomorrow promises a cracking day's racing, but the weather might yet interfere again.

While there has been no suggestion that the corresponding card at Navan is in danger, both Cork and this afternoon's Tramore spread are already subject to respective morning inspections.

An inclement forecast for today has prompted officials to err on the side of caution. Clearly, both venues could struggle, but hopefully the worst-case scenario would see Navan survive.

It is a programme that should prove really informative, despite another numerically disappointing aggregate turnout of seven for the two graded races.

In the Grade Three Klairon Davis Novices' Chase, Jessica Harrington's Ttebbob will face just two Gordon Elliott-trained rivals, Lord Scoundrel and Shadow Catcher.

Having finished second to the exciting Sizing John in a Punchestown Grade Two, Lord Scoundrel's level is the most established. He had won three on the spin prior to that, so it might be unwise to underestimate him.

Still, he has to concede six pounds to Ttebbob, and time might reveal that to be no small task.

Ttebbob never fulfilled his potential over flights, but there was an awful lot to like about the performance that he turned in on his fencing debut at Thurles.

While the early departure of two market leaders diminished the race as a contest, Ttebbob did his job beautifully.

Sure, he raced a little keenly in front, but he jumped with such alacrity and surety that you never felt his approach would be his undoing.

Now, with the benefit of that experience, he is fancied to follow up for Robbie Power, who will be keen to avoid getting embroiled in an early battle for the lead with Lord Scoundrel.

The same partnership could also plunder the beginners' chase with Walk To Freedom. This is a competitive race of its type, and Willie Mullins's McKinley would obviously be the one to beat if he recaptured the form that saw him claim a Grade One here over flights in January.

After some moderate efforts subsequently, though, he has something to prove.

Walk To Freedom was never precocious over flights, but a thoroughly impressive win at Punchestown in the spring suggested that he might be coming to himself.

On his fencing bow at the same track in November, he confirmed that impression when finishing third behind Outlander and Free Expression, before then chasing home Shaneshill at Thurles.

Clearly, he is a horse that is maturing, which is no surprise as he is still only five years of age. Again, he has a tendency to race a little freely, but the suspicion is that won't stop him here.


Mullins gets the nod to take what looks a superb maiden hurdle with dual bumper winner Balko Des Flos, while he might also claim the Grade Two Novices' Hurdle.

Intriguingly, the champion trainer has booked Jacques Ricou in this for Stone Hard, the leading French rider, having recently revealed he would be riding out for Mullins this winter.

Ricou had stated that he would not be race-riding during his stint, but he was hardly going to turn down a ride if Mullins were offering.

Stone Hard should be thereabouts, likewise his fellow Gigginstown Stud-owned Tycoon Prince, which disappointed here last month.

Mullins also has Bellshill in this €40,000 affair, and, following a sooth triumph first time up at Cork, he is fancied to prevail under Ruby Walsh.

Noel Meade and Barry Geraghty could claim the valuable handicap hurdle with the Fairyhouse runner-up Harvey Logan, while the nap vote goes to Sizing Titanium in the rated novices' chase.

Jim Dreaper's seven-year-old enhanced his reputation in defeat here behind Kitten Rock, and he ought to be good enough if he runs to a similar level for Jonathan Burke.

If Cork survives, Mullins's Gangster is the one to beat in the Graded novices' hurdle, while Gordon Elliott's Bright New Dawn might cause a minor upset in the main event.

Davy Russell renews acquaintances with Gigginstown's free-going sort for a first time in two years. Bright New Dawn is a horse that hasn't lived up to its potential, but he isn't the livewire that he was, so he can build on his Clonmel second to Road To Riches by accounting for four higher-rated rivals now.

Irish Independent

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