IRISH SOUL can continue the immense progress that he has made for James Motherway in recent months by taking the €17,875 Proudstown Handicap Hurdle at Navan today.
Since finishing fifth at the Co Meath venue on its first start for the in-form Cloyne handler, Irish Soul has knocked up a hat-trick, most recently accounting for some established handicappers at Clonmel. That success came off a 22lb higher rating than the first, and a further 8lb have been added now.
Without doubt, this 17-runner contest is the most competitive race Irish Soul has ever run in, but it's hard to nominate a more progressive sort than Paddy Mangan's mount. Strain Of Fame is probably his most interesting rival.
Willie Mullins' representative took third behind the stable's Dare To Doubt on his reappearance at Punchestown. If he improves now, he probably won't be far away.
The best race on the card is arguably the novice hurdle that precedes the Proudstown.
Mullins, who is without the services of Paul Townend after the champion jockey was diagnosed with a fractured collarbone during the week, relies on Turban in this, an impressive victor over Folsom Blue and Trifolium in a maiden hurdle at Thurles.
Dedigout and Reizovic are two others that must enter calculations, but slight preference is for Mart Lane.
A bumper winner on its debut for John 'Shark' Hanlon in January, the Stowaway six-year-old hacked up on its hurdling bow at Perth and has the advantage of the useful Brian Hayes' seven-pound claim here.
Hayes might also have a big say on Headford Flyer in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase.
Thurles scorer Popcorn is Mullins' contender here, while Foildubh and Jim Will Fix It are two that have held their own over fences without winning just yet.
The Eoghan O'Grady-trained Headford Flyer is also a maiden, but his effort to be second to Call The Police at Gowran Park is not to be sniffed at in this company.
In the maiden hurdle, Rourke's Cross, second to the subsequent Grade One winner Sous Les Cieux last time, ought to take all the beating for Charlie Swan and David Casey.
• There will be a 7.30 precautionary course inspection at Navan this morning ahead of today's scheduled fixture due to the threat of overnight frost.