Walsh to reward followers
THERE will be no shortage of accumulators in the betting parlours on Ruby Walsh's rides today at Navan, where there are three quality Grade Two contests.
Trainer Willie Mullins looks likely to saddle five favourites this afternoon, four of them Walsh-ridden, and the bookmakers may be facing ever-increasing liabilities as the day progresses.
Perhaps the most solid of the quintet is Uimhiraceathair, which looks a bit of a good thing in the Ten Up Novice Steeplechase. The son of Old Vic could hardly have made a more pleasing chase impression at Gowran, beating Orpheus Valley (which is now seven lengths better off but more exposed) by six lengths. Of his other rivals, Telenor is not discounted: despite weakening so tamely behind Oscar Looby at Naas, he jumps extremely well.
Mullins' Mourad is the horse to beat in the feature Boyne Hurdle as he also bids to enhance his World Hurdle credentials. He is the most likely Irish-trained winner of that Cheltenham contest (even at 25/1), but today's challenge will reveal more about how good the five-year-old is.
War Of Attrition warmed the heart by winning at Gowran, but Ebadiyan is the progressive one here (having edged Muirhead last time). Oliver Brady's grey will not be winning anything at Cheltenham but today's demands are arguably what he wants in terms of ground, trip and track.
If the handicapper was right to promote him to 154 after his last success, Ebadiyan is the horse to beat. Ninetieth Minute must be respected too, though he flopped at Leopardstown. Osana, should he run to his best, will almost certainly oblige in the Flying Bolt Novices' Chase. Edward O'Grady's Video Rock-bred has won twice over fences, but escapes a penalty due to race conditions. Such leniency does not apply to Dancing Tornado, which has no chance against the selection based on previous course form.
Shakervilz edged Sorceror (carried his head high in defeat) at Leopardstown but surely will not have the finishing kick of Osana. Major Finnegan might be the biggest threat to the jolly.
The most vulnerable of Walsh's apparent hotpots today may be Cadspeed in the Trim Maiden Hurdle: he has been a beaten favourite the last four times, thrice when odds-on. In light of such a profile, he will be opposed by many, but his proven stamina may give him an edge over Champus and the somewhat disappointing Lucky William. In general, Cadspeed does not seem irresolute, whatever about his win record.
Noel Meade's record at Navan is to be envied and the local handler may strike with Monastrell in the opening race. His second to Grey Soldier (which previously chased home the smart Rite Of Passage) may flatter him a little, but a reproduction might still suffice.
It may be the day's most competitive race but Mexican Venture makes plenty of appeal in the handicap hurdle, given the likely strong pace, for Brady -- one of racing's true characters. Mullins' Pickapocketortwo must go close in the bumper after a pleasing debut, the form of which has been advertised since.
Navan: 1.40 Monastrell 2.10 Ebadiyan 2.45 Mexican Venture (Nap) 3.15 Cadspeed 3.50 Pickapocketortwo 4.25 Uimhiraceathair 4.55 Osana.