Irish Eyes: Strike Gold at Navan
Our Irish Eyes column was once again among the winners last week and looks at the Navan action this afternoon.
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It's a double whammy to lose Apache Stronghold - and his stablemate - from this afternoon's Navan Novice Hurdle, as it robs us of an interesting race and a possible betting opportunity.
At this stage in his career, Briar Hill gives the impression that he literally could be anything. The only concern for some will be the 2m4f trip but being a son of Shantou, this should prove well within his compass. He'll surely win today, but with only one rival to beat, he can't be backed.
Elsewhere on the card, Sizing Gold has been declared to make his chasing debut for the third consecutive weekend. He was withdrawn due to a stone bruise at Fairyhouse and was then found to have an elevated temperature last weekend at Punchestown.
It cannot be argued however that connections were simply waiting for an easier opportunity because this is far from the case - in actual fact, the likely favourite in today's Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners' Chase, Wingtips, was rated 4lb superior to Sizing Gold over hurdles.
However, Sizing Gold always looked like he was merely marking time over hurdles as he is the epitome of the traditional chaser. Bearing that in mind, it is a fair indication of his ability that he proved classy enough to run second to Grade One winners Don Cossack and Ponte Alexander over hurdles. He also gave subsequent Grade One winner Morning Assembly a three-length beating at Leoaprdstown last Christmas.
Despite the fact that Henry de Bromhead's string are in questionable form, it is expected that Sizing Gold will win this before returning to Leopardstown exactly a year to the day from his win over Morning Assembly to contest the Grade One Topaz Chase on December 29.
Navan should prove a happy hunting ground for owner Alan Potts and the first leg of a potential double can be secured by Sizing Tennessee in the opening two mile maiden hurdle. A winner of two of his three bumper starts under Patrick Mullins, he finished tailed off in the Cheltenham Champion bumper when pulling far too hard under Andrew Lynch.
Katie Walsh took over for his next start and he returned to something nearer his best form, finishing fifth, beaten just over seven lengths, behind The Liquidator in the Grade One Champion bumper at Punchestown.
Lynch is back on board again today as the owners' retained jockey and he will be hoping the horse will settle much better for him second time around.
Sizing Tennessee was shown during a recent visit to the Mullins yard and it was noticeable how he had transformed from a shell of a horse last season. He now resembles much more of the finished article and cannot be opposed here.
Kilmainham has dropped 6lb over the course of his last four runs and now competes off a winnable mark. He ran poorly just last week at Punchestown, but is undoubtedly a better horse when he can get his toe in and the rain might just have come in time for him today.
He is a winner waiting to happen and whilst we cannot be certain that today is the day, at odds of 25/1 this morning, he is worth a small each-way bet in the Beauparc Handicap Hurdle at 1235.
The fact that his trainer was amongst the winners at Fairyhouse yesterday certainly does nothing to detract from his chances.
Nap: Sizing Tennessee - Navan 1205
Next-best: Sizing Gold - Navan 1415
Each-way: Kilmainham - Navan 1235