DAVY RUSSELL exclusive blog NAVAN Saturday
The start of another busy racing weekend in Ireland and I have rides in Navan on Saturday and a couple at Thurles on Sunday. Thoughts on Saturday’s rides below and I’ll be back with a new blog on Saturday evening looking at Sunday. I’m not riding in the 3.25 at Navan which means I’ll be able to enjoy watching the Clarence House Chase at Ascot (3.35pm) from the weighing room. It looks a belter with Shishkin and Energumene both bidding to hold onto their perfect records over chases. It’ll be like a game of chess with the small field and tactics coming into play – if pressed, I narrowly favour Shishkin (pictured below) whose form I think is marginally a bit more solid but it’s just a race to savour and enjoy.
It’s been a bit drier over here this week and we’re expecting yielding ground in Navan.
12:00pm Au Fleuron Dunmoe Rated Novice Hurdle 2m
This looks a cracking little contest to start the day. I’m looking forward to getting back on Au Fleuron who I thought was good the last day when winning over course and distance. I thought that day that the drop back in distance helped him and hopefully it will the same today. There are so many unknown quantities in the race including Gordon’s (Elliott) other runner Ebasari who I was on first time up when we got the better of Adamantly Chosen at Cork. The runner-up already has some smart form and we finished 27 lengths clear of the third so the form might be useful. Ebasari gets plenty of weight here and must be a danger alongside Banbridge who now has plenty of experience and the likes of Ardla and Un Des Flos.
12:30pm Jaycean Graigs Lane Maiden Hurdle (Div I) 2m 4f
The first day at school for Jaycean who has done plenty of grass work at home but we’ll learn plenty more about him today. Gordon also runs Keepthefaithinme and Bodhisattva who I thought can only improve for his course and distance debut here last month when the penny seemed to drop late on.
1:05pm Ash Tree Meadow Graigs Lane Maiden Hurdle (Div II) 2m 4f
I think Ash Tree Meadow has run two lovely races this season and I’m hoping he will be suited by the step up to 2m 4f. I was on him the last day in Leopardstown where we we were third to none other than Sir Gerhard! He was staying on nicely for me towards the end of that two miles. He’s in good form at home and hopefully this is a nice opening.
1:40pm Duffle Coat Navan Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) 2m 4f
I’ve always had a soft spot for Duffle Coat who was very good back in 2020 when winning three races in a row. His recent form hasn’t been at that level and he’s struggling to find his feet in handicap company. That said, I don’t think he’s a million miles away and hopefully can run better.
My old friend Tiger Roll (pictured below) has his first run here since pulling up at Aintree last December. This will be his first start over hurdles in a handicap since Punchestown in 2016 and I’m obviously hoping we can see a little of his old spark back as it’s getting towards his time of the year. Fingers crossed he goes well enough to earn another tilt at the Cross Country at Cheltenham but it’s one step at a time at the moment and this looks a tough enough contest – let alone the fact he has to saddle top weight.
2:15pm Lugg River Ardmulchan Handicap Hurdle 2m 4f
We go again with Lugg River who was unlucky last week in Punchestown when hampered and brought down at the first. It’s just one of those things but she’s plenty of miles on the clock and is normally a good jumper so I can’t see it affecting her confidence. She now has top weight in this company but can hopefully build on a promising first start for the stable in Limerick.