Friday 23 February 2018

Wicklow fits Troytown profile


The Troytown Chase is the feature event on the Navan card this afternoon, with the maximum field of 25 runners due to go to post in what looks like another highly competitive renewal.

The significant runner in the race is likely favourite Prince Du Beauchene, making his Irish debut for Willie Mullins in the Andrea and Graham Wylie colours.

The Wylies, whose long association with Howard Johnson was ended when the trainer was convicted of breaching welfare rules by the BHA, have divided the remainder of their classy string of horses between Paul Nicholls and Mullins.

Prince Du Beauchene is a talented sort and will be suited by the trip and ground here, which is likely to be very soft. But it will be his first run back this season and off top weight, he faces a tall order facing up to three miles around Navan's stiff track.

Only Notre Pere has been able to win this off a weight higher than 11st in recent renewals and, given that Jim Dreaper's horse turned out to be top class over fences later that season, explains the statistic somewhat.

Mullins, who has been in scintillating form of late, could have a better chance with the progressive-looking pair of Some Target and Quadrillion.

The former warmed up for this with a good run over hurdles at Punchestown and given he was fancied to go well in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last season, he should have no problems with today's stamina test.

It's no surprise that lightweights have done well in this race given Navan's steep undulations and usual underfoot conditions at this time of year. There was money around for Groody Hill and Leggy Lad during the week and both look like progressive chasers that fit into the lightweight trend. But the value could be with the Francis Flood-trained Wicklow Lad.

The son of Silver Patriarch improved markedly when stepped up to three miles at this course last season, running out a comfortable winner of what looked like a good novice handicap chase.

It's probable that this race has been the plan for him since and there was a lot to like about his prep run over hurdles at Fairyhouse last time out.

With Cheltenham in mind, the focus race of the day will be the Grade Two 'Monksfield' Hurdle. Noel Meade looks to have an exciting recruit in Texas Jack, which is unbeaten in three runs, and is likely to start a warm favourite.

The five-year-old was given a classic Paul Carberry waiting ride at Clonmel last time when accounting for one of today's rivals Make A Track, and he should be to the forefront of proceedings again today.

Gordon Elliot's Mount Benbulben is the other horse of note, given his Limerick win over Punchestown Champion Bumper winner Lovethehigherlaw last season. The six-year-old slipped up on his debut over hurdles but got off the mark impressively at Thurles last time out.

Elsewhere on the card, Nearest The Pin can take the beginners chase for Ruby Walsh and Tony Martin. The six-year-old son of Court Cave is highly thought of at home and can build on the experience he acquired from his first run over fences.

Both Supreme California and Hats And Heels represent Willie Mullins in the valuable winner's bumper that concludes the card, but the Michael Winters-trained Missunited is a two-time winner already and with Nina Carberry booked looks like the one to beat.

Sunday Indo Sport

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