Irish Eyes: Treble tops
Our Irish Eyes column previews this afternoon's action from Navan and pinpoints the best bets on the card.
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On a card that features four or possible even five odds-on shots, the only chance of making a few bob today is to back Aklan in the first at the forecast odds-against in addition to doubling him up with the nap of the day in Un De Sceaux.
Aklan was a Listed performer on the flat for John Oxx and whilst he has not run since August 2012, Aklan has been primed to run for a while and has caught the eye of numerous good judges in his work of late.
His jockey, Ruby Walsh is on record as stating "it will take a fair sort to beat him" and a quick look at that opposition suggests that, despite 23 other runners, one can number the potential 'fair horses' down to two at most!
The Engineer, when back to his best, will win a maiden but he has been off the track for even longer than Aklan, 285 days longer in fact and he is bound to come on for this. Clancol is the other horse and he did run well behind Western Boy, who subsequently gave Supreme Novices' Hurdle favourite Vantour a fright at Punchestown yesterday. However, Aklan is simply a class above and provided he puts in a clean round of jumping, he ought to win before proving himself when upped in class.
The task facing Un De Sceaux is as simple as clearing the eight flights in front of him today. In terms of rivals, he faces a mere three. He has thirteen pounds in hand with Foildubh and he is eighteen pounds well treated with Fred Winter scorer and Galway Hurdle second Flaxen Flare. Finally, Un De Sceaux is a massive 37 pounds well in with Akatara, and that is even making allowances for her riders claim! It's as clear as that and there is no other way of looking at it.
He first announced himself as a Grade One Prospect when hammering Moscow Mannion by thirteen lengths at last season's Punchestown festival but it was the manner of his win that caught everyone's eye. Not many horses can pull like he did and still run out an impressive winner. Today's race still won't tell us anything new about Un De Sceaux and it certainly won't reveal whether he is a genuine Champion Hurdle prospect or not. In reality, he will probably do more work at home than he will have to do to win this. However, this is likely to be his final outing before stepping up into Grade One company and a particularly taking win might see him come into the frame for a shot at the big boys in the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle in two-week's time at Leopardstown.
It has been well documented that Willie Mullins is having, yet another, predictably stellar season but it is in the bumper sphere that he has always excelled. This Irish national hunt season is proving no exception to the norm. Mullins has a 21% winners-to-runners strike rate over fences, a 30% strike rate over hurdles but a massive 42% strike rate in bumpers.
Milsean (Irish for 'Sweet/s') is rumoured to be well above standard but despite his name, it is unlikely there will be any tasty prices on offer today! He was impressive in his point-to-point at Dromahane but it must be noted that particular race had not worked out well at all.
Nevertheless, Milsean could do no more than beat what was out in front of him on the day. He is bred to excel at this game being a son of Milan out of a half-sister to Cork national winner Penny Hall and emanating from the famous 'Boro' family who number Boro Smackeroo, Boro Eight and Boro Quarter amongst the best on the page. Navan will suit him down to the ground and whilst this is definitely not a horse that will be going to Cheltenham in March it will be a huge surprise if he can't take this contest, in the process becoming the third Mullins-trained winner in six running's of this race.