Irish Eyes: Reine can reign
Sunday's Navan's card on Sunday is very exciting and brings us a Grade 1 race and two Grade 2's.
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The card starts with the 2m4f two-and-a-half-mie beginners' chase where Boston Bob finally makes his chasing debut. Second to the ill-fated Brindisi Breeze in last year's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, Boston Bob has always promised to come into his own over fences and is already as short as 11/2 for the RSA Chase.
He has been entered up many times over the past few weeks but it appears that connections wanted to wait until they could secure Ruby Walsh before unleashing the horse over fences, so fitness will not be a worry and he is likely to start odds-on.
I would imagine Ruby will set off at the front of the field and make all on Boston Bob and it will be hugely disappointing if he can't win what looks a very weak contest.
Mullins and Walsh again combine in the Grade Two Tara Hurdle and a chance is taken with Simenon to prove that his run last time was all wrong. Beaten at 1/3 favourite in a weaker race, he was very keen early and made mistakes as a result, which is not surprising considering he had been running with huge success on the flat all summer. This dual Royal Ascot scorer has a good chance at the weights to recoup losses in this event and give trainer and rider a second Tara Hurdle in a row, having taken it last year with Zaidpour.
The main event of the day is the Grade One Navan Novice Hurdle where all eyes will be on Don Cossack, who is already as short as 8/1 favourite with some firms for the Supreme Novices' Hurde after just one start over hurdles.
He was very impressive when he won maiden hurdle at this course, save for one or two small jumping mistakes but jockey Davy Russell said his jumping would be even better when they go quicker in a better class of race.
This really is a better class of race and it will be no walk in the park for the favourite. Busty Brown was impressive over course and distance winning a Grade 2 hurdle, for which he does not carry a penalty so there is every reason to believe he will run well.
Willie Mullins runs two that are taking advantage of the weight allowance for four-year-olds. Pont Alexandre was an easy winner of a hurdle at Cholet in France on his only start to-date and could be anything while Reine Angevine was deeply impressive in winning two hurdle races here in Ireland over two miles. She also receives the mares' weight allowance and if she can stay this extra half-mile, she will run very well and is the each-way alternative to the short priced favourite, Don Cossack.