Zardsky has scope to conquer
Tomorrow's Troytown Chase card at Navan may need a bit of luck to survive today's track inspection at 3.0, but there is a fantastic day's racing in store if it does.
The seven-race spread is hugely competitive, which couldn't be said of too many other domestic fixtures of late. There is nothing better contested than the €80,000 feature, with 23 runners due to tackle the prestigious three-mile handicap.
Ruby Walsh takes the reins on Gordon Elliott's 8/1 market leader Romanesco, which made amends for a last-fence Cheltenham spill by collecting for a second time in three starts at Fakenham at the end of October.
With form on heavy ground, he is a worthy favourite with just 10st 9lb to carry after a six-pound penalty.
Orpheus Valley, representing Tom Gibney's select Irish Grand National-winning stable, is another with prospects after scoring in style at Roscommon, though Eric McNamara's Kerry National hero Faltering Fullback probably has plenty on him off a stone higher mark.
With conditions as they are, the lower weights might have an enhanced advantage and Zardsky is an unexposed sort fancied to have a big say.
Trained in Cork by TJ Nagle, the six-year-old was having just its sixth chasing start when failing to fully see out the half-mile longer trip in the Cork National earlier in the month.
Nonetheless, having made much of the running, he showed up well until forfeiting the lead on the run to two-out, eventually finishing fourth to Raz De Maree.
All told, it was an encouraging performance from Zardsky, so, having been left alone by the handicapper, average improvement may see him go close for Tom Doyle now.
Earlier, the Irish Form Book Monksfield Novice Hurdle is a cracking Grade Two. Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown Stud is triple-handed, with Davy Russell opting for Down Royal winner Bonisland over Shrapnel and Rule The World. You could make a case for all three, but Dessie Hughes' Seefood appeals most under Bryan Cooper.
The Kahyasi gelding has really progressed of late, adding two stylish hurdling triumphs to his narrow bumper win at Clonmel in September.
At Fairyhouse last time, he readily toppled Sizing Gold, a genuinely smart prospect that had previously accounted for Wednesday's runaway winner Defy Logic at Navan in February.
If Seefood comes on again for that, it will take a good one to stop him.
In normal circumstances, Sizing Gold would be the obvious recommendation in the two-mile maiden hurdle, but Gigginstown's immensely exciting Don Cossack, so impressive in three bumpers for Elliott last term, is difficult to oppose on its hurdling bow.
Torn Asunder can oblige for the same connections in the longer maiden, but Sword Of Destiny, Russell's mount in a cracking beginners' chase that also features Alderwood, is passed over in favour of Darwins Fox. Second to Oscars Well on his fencing debut, Henry de Bromhead's six-year-old's form is as good as is on offer.
On such a challenging card, Mia's Vic is a tentative nap in the handicap hurdle.