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Mullins can hit Navan hat-trick

Champion trainer Willie Mullins, whose treble hopes were foiled at Leopardstown on Sunday due to Flat Out's exit from the Arkle Novice Chase, can go one better this afternoon at Navan when he brings a strong team to a fixture moved from Saturday.

The postponement of today's meeting to facilitate the frost-hit Thyestes Chase card at Gowran, now put back to Friday, means the chases which wouldn't have been run three days ago now form the second half of the Jackpot. Despite the testing conditions and five more dates lined up for the rest of this week, there's no shortage of acceptors in a mammoth declaration of 152 intended starters.

While both maiden hurdles and the Meath Handicap Hurdle have attracted maximum fields of 30, the Golf Club Membership Hurdle, with a mere nine entries, features some interesting types, as does the beginners chase.

Out of his depth at Cheltenham last month behind Menorah, Jimmy Coogan's Der Spieler will find this a more realistic assignment even if Paul Carberry's mount has to settle for some more domestic place money.

Sean O'Brien's Wilde Wit Pleasure, a respectable fifth behind Final Approach in the MCR Handicap Hurdle, rather than Big Game Hunter could be the one though to chase home French import Sir Des Champs.

Mullins has already saddled a pair of recent bumper victors for champion owner Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud and he will be hopeful of extending that streak courtesy of Davy Russell's mount, which scored nicely over hurdles at Auteuil last March.

The Mullins-Paul Townend alliance can likewise capture the preceding maiden hurdle with Sicilian Secret as the Flemensfirth gelding reverts to the minimum trip after his Cork defeat by Shop DJ and a Leopardstown fifth to Shot From The Hip.

Raz De Maree for Dessie Hughes and young Bryan Cooper could confirm Thurles placed form with the Mullins-Townend runner Glenlo Abbey in the staying maiden hurdle as Out Now tries to emulate last year's success of Acapulco for the season's leading rider Andrew McNamara.

Holding a two-winner advantage (52-50) over Carberry going into this session, McNamara can play a prominent role too in the beginners chase when linking up with Galway trainer Pauline Gavin's Ad Idem.

No match for Flat Out at Punchestown recently, Ad Idem has something to find on previous maiden hurdle form here with Gordon Elliott's nap selection Ballymak, whose third to Royal De La Thinte and Alpha Ridge at the Kildare venue over three miles represented a decent performance on his comeback from injury.

Successful with favourites Skorcher and Kerb Appeal in today's bumper for the past two seasons, Willie and Patrick Mullins might manage another as Dunbrovic makes his debut.

Irish Independent