Trifolium to strike for Byrnes
THE clash between exciting novice chasers Felix Yonger and Trifolium is the highlight of this afternoon's decent card at Navan.
While 118 horses are declared for the six other races at the Meath track, a maximum of four will go to post for the Irish Stallion Farms-sponsored two-miler.
The presence of two such classy prospects lends real quality to the €20,000 affair, though only two trainers will be represented, with Willie Mullins' formidable Co Carlow stable responsible for Felix Yonger, The Paparazzi Kid and Passage Vendome.
Having denied Defy Logic under Ruby Walsh over this trip in a Punchestown Grade Two last month, Felix Yonger has confirmed himself as a horse of considerable potential.
However, Trifolium, third in last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, is a better class of opponent again, and the suspicion is that Charles Byrnes' charge can take advantage of a four-pound concession to justify the nap vote under Davy Russell.
The Gigginstown Stud-owned six-year-old looked to have benefited from corrective wind surgery with a straightforward triumph on his fencing bow at Thurles two weeks ago. This will obviously be a far more thorough test, but he should be up to it.
Mullins and Russell look sure to have a big say once again when they link up for Urticaire in the mares' maiden hurdle.
A five-time French bumper winner in races for horses that are described as non-thoroughbreds, Urticaire will probably be good enough to see over her 19 blue-blooded rivals on her debut for the champion trainer.
Russell's mount Lieutenant Colonel is interesting in the opening maiden hurdle, but it is yet another of Mullins' Gallic imports that appeals in that two-miler.
Vautour was second to the highly regarded Black River on its most recent start at Auteuil in March.
Walsh dons Rich Ricci's colours aboard the four-year-old son of Robin Des Champs now and the partnership could be hard beaten.
The same triumvirate combine for Faugheen in the novices' hurdle over two-and-a-half miles. Horendus Hulabaloo, Empire Of Dirt and Gold Patrol are among those that lend extra substance to this contest, but Faugheen is the stand-out candidate.
Unbeaten and impressive in a point-to-point, a bumper and a recent Punchestown maiden hurdle that has seen the third home Oscar Chimes win easily since, Faugheen is a serious prospect that is surely the main reason that his peerless rider eschewed Aintree today.
Gordon Elliott, who is without Paul Carberry after his first choice rider opted to sit the weekend out following a bruising fall on Thursday, might take the bumper with Lord Scoundrel.
This Presenting four-year-old travelled nicely when second to Royal Caviar at Punchestown last month, and he is fully expected to build on that now.