Don can master Navan rivals
Our horse-by-horse guide to Sunday's Grade One Navan Novice Hurdle.
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The highest rated of these following his two and a half length defeat of Seefood over C&D last month and representing a trainer who won this prize with Aran Concerto in 2006. Said to be settling better than when first arriving at the yard but two preceding defeats in Grade Threes raise doubts about whether he can cut the mustard in this company.
Possesses a sky-high reputation and hasn't let connections down thus far with a series of bloodless victories since a debut defeat. Steps up in class but has the beating of Busty Brown and Seefood on a line through Sizing Gold whom he beat on his hurdling bow where he jumped well enough to suggest that his lack of experience shouldn't prove problematical.
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Powerful owner's second string judged by jockey bookings but he's done more than enough in winning two of his three starts over hurdles to merit his place in the line-up. Clearly has a future but the overall impression is that there will be other days for him.
Finished 62 lengths behind Don Cossack in a bumper on his second start under Rules but has improved in leaps and bounds over the summer, beating Sizing Gold comfortably in a novice before chasing home Busty Brown last time. No obvious reason why he should reverse the form.
First foal of an unraced dam who made a winning debut over hurdles in France in May before joining this yard. Connections have enjoyed plenty of success with their Gallic purchases and have described this individual as 'a nice prospect who seems to be going well'. The chosen mount of Ruby Walsh and commands obvious respect for his powerful team.
The second representatitve of Willie Mullins who was won this race with Boston Bob and Mikael d'Haguenet in recent seasons. Has shown a decent level of form in winning twice at Gowran Park and she can't be comfortably dismissed as she steps up in grade and to a trip which should suit.
The presence of Pont Alexandre adds an intriguing element to this contest and any market confidence in the four year old would be of obvious interest with Mikael d'Haguenet having won this at the same age on his second start since arriving from France.
For all that, there's been a good deal to admire about the way that Don Cossack has gone about his work thus far and Gordon Elliott's charge is taken to climb another step up the ladder.