Sunday success in store for Elliott with trio of talented Navan runners
Gordon Elliott's Ball D'arc may well go off as favourite for the Grade Three Poplar Square Chase at Naas today (12.35) and is respected having put in some good runs in Grade Ones, but preference here is for ORDINARY WORLD, which was trading around 2/1 in the early markets. Henry de Bromhead's seven-year-old placed three times at Grade One level, his best effort coming at Punchestown last time out.
The Grade Three Fishery Lane Hurdle follows (1.10), and the 6/4 about EX PATRIOT in a six-runner field looks a couple of ticks too high. Ellmarie Holden's gelding hit 4/5 in-running when third to Jezki in the Istabraq Hurdle at Tipperary last month but made a few mistakes which is of some concern. His latest Flat handicap race at Leopardstown is overlooked and if he keeps out of trouble he'll surely go close.
The Noel Meade-trained DARKEST FLYER is down at the bottom of the weights on 9st 12lbs for the Grade B Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Brown Lad Handicap Hurdle (2.55) and gets the nod around 8/1. He's had three races for Meade since leaving Paul John Gilligan, winning two, and I've a sneaky feeling this one is progressive and still ahead of the handicapper.
At Navan tomorrow, consider backing MORGAN, which is trading around 7/4 for the Grade Three For Auction Novice Hurdle (1.10).
Elliott's five-year-old was beaten at this level last time, but I was quite impressed by his previous win in a Listed Novice Hurdle at Listowel. He's the type that could bounce back to form.
Stratum, now trained by Willie Mullins, was a decent sort on the Flat for John Gosden and should make a decent race of it.
Elliott can also take the following Grade Two Lismullen Hurdle (1.40) although APPLE'S JADE will probably be too short to back around 2/5 or thereabouts.
With Grade One wins at Cheltenham and Punchestown, she clearly sets the standard here and only Jer's Girl and Monksland look capable of mounting some sort of challenge.
Finally, CLARCAM, which prefers small fields, can make it a great day for Elliott with success in the Grade Two TheTote.com Fortria Chase (2.10) under Jack Kennedy at 5/2 or thereabouts.
Hand issue sidelines Walsh for a week
Ruby Walsh is facing a week on the 'easy list' after he bruised his right hand in a fall at Down Royal earlier this month.
Walsh sustained the injury in a tumble from Mystic Theatre at the second-last flight of a Grade Three mares' novice hurdle on November 3. He continued riding until Tuesday but now feels his hand needs a total rest to get back to normal.
All things going well, Walsh will return to the saddle for Punchestown's two-day meeting next weekend, featuring the Morgiana Hurdle, which he has won in five of the last six years.
Davy Russell, meanwhile, is hoping to resume riding today after being stood down at Thurles on Thursday.
Russell, who currently leads Walsh 65-62 in the race for this year's jockeys' championship, was taken to hospital for precautionary x-rays on a foot following a fall from Ronava at the third fence in the Littleton Handicap Chase. The x-rays showed that nothing was broken.