Hopes are high that Easy Game can keep run going
Easy Game, which has won three of his five starts since arriving in Ireland, bids to provide Willie Mullins with a seventh victory in the Navan Novice Hurdle today.
Easy Game's most recent success was a narrow win in the Grade Three Monksfield Novice Hurdle three weeks ago at the same track. The four-year-old renews rivalry with the second and third, Magnium and Choungaya, and the trainer's son and assistant Patrick Mullins is keeping his fingers crossed that Easy Game can confirm the form.
"Easy Game finished very strongly the last day - I thought Ruby (Walsh) gave him a fantastic ride," he said. "He was only a narrow winner, so it's hard to be confident he'll confirm the form with the second and third, but we hope there's some improvement there."
Mullins has a second string to his bow in Getareason, which was last seen finishing fourth behind stablemate Robin De Carlow in a Listed heat at Cork.
"Getareason has been a little bit frustrating. He's a horse with a lot of ability, but he has thrown in a couple of below-par runs," Mullins added.
"We're hoping he can bounce back from Cork and get back to the sort of form he was showing in Listowel, when he looked like he was going to win until making a bad mistake at the last."
Subsequent Cheltenham Festival hero Mikael D'Haguenet became the champion trainer's first winner of the Grade Two contest a decade ago and he has since struck gold with Boston Bob (2011), Pont Alexandre (2012), Briar Hill (2013), Bellshill (2015) and last year's winner Next Destination.
Gordon Elliott has saddled No More Heroes (2014) and Death Duty (2016) to claim this prize and has three chances this year. Course and distance winner Defi Bleu is joined by Monbeg Worldwide - which registered successive wins at Fairyhouse last month - and Satoshi.
Joseph O'Brien fires a twin assault with Choungaya and Rhinestone both declared. Jessica Harrington's Magnium and Colin Bowe's mare Western Victory complete the nine-strong field.
The latter steps up in class after beating several subsequent winners - including Aintree bumper winner Getaway Katie Mai - at Galway in October.
"The Galway form has been well boosted and we've been happy with her since," said Bowe. "We're probably putting her in at the deep end, but we want to go where the ground is safe. If she could be placed we'd be delighted."
Elliott has a strong hand as he bids for a third successive win in the Tara Handicap Hurdle. He has saddled Automated and Diamond Cauchois to land this valuable handicap in the last two years and this time has four chances, with top-weight De Plotting Shed joined by stablemates Ball D'Arc, Squouateur, Dinaria Des Obeaux and Stooshie.
Mullins, who last claimed the prize with Zaidpour in 2011, fires a twin assault, with Paul Townend partnering Orion D'Aubrelle and Ruby Walsh taking the ride on Calie Du Mesnil.
Orion D'Aubrelle returns to the smaller obstacles following a spell over fences, while Calie Du Mesnil makes her handicap debut on the back of finishing second in a Listed novice hurdle at Limerick.
"He'll like the galloping track and there's some good prize-money on offer, so we thought it was worth a shot," said Patrick Mullins of Orion D'Aubrelle.
Harrington's Walk To Freedom will be well fancied to follow up his comprehensive course victory in the Proudstown Handicap Hurdle three weeks ago, while other contenders in a 22-strong field include the Mags Mullins-trained Salty Boy and Paul Nolan's Rooster Byron. The latter racked up a hat-trick in the spring and made a pleasing return when third at Cork last month.
It promises to be another big day for Elliott at his local track. The Gigginstown House Stud-owned Battleoverdoyen was bought for £235,000 after winning his point-to-point and following an impressive bumper success, he is likely to be a warm order in the opening maiden hurdle.
Sunday Indo Sport