Chris's Dream and Robbie Power impressed Donn McClean with their Sunday stroll in the Troytown - our man in Ireland reflects on the recent action.
You want Robbie Power in your corner these days anyway, that’s for sure. It wasn’t just Lostinstranslation at Haydock on Saturday either. It was Bold Plan too, coolly from the rear in a race that wasn’t run at a fast pace, and Master Debonair from the front at Ascot on Friday, one ride on the day, one winner, and Silver Sheen at Thurles on Thursday, and a treble at Chepstow on Wednesday.
And Chris’s Dream in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase at Navan on Sunday.
Robbie Power had never won the Troytown Chase before, one of the biggest races at Navan, his local track, but the way things were going it wasn’t surprising that Chris’s Dream was backed down to 9/2 favourite for the valuable feature.
You wonder how much of the money was for the horse and how much of it was for the rider.
And supporters never really had a sweat. Power had his horse in a lovely racing rhythm from early, behind the pace and along the inside. The Henry de Bromhead-trained gelding travelled like a class horse from flagfall and his jumping was superb. It always has been really
He joined the front rank at the third last fence, travelled well down to the second last and picked up from there. He came clear of Fitzhenry on the run to the last, flew that fence and powered up the run-in to post a really impressive victory.
It was some performance, to win a Troytown Chase as impressively as that, carrying 11st 7lb. It can be done, you can carry big weights to victory in the race: Mala Beach carried 11st 9lb in 2017, Empire Of Dirt carried 11st 8lb in 2016. That’s three of the last four winners now who have carried 11st 7lb or more. But Chris’s Dream is only seven years old, and this was just his sixth chase. There could be a fair bit more to come from Brian Acheson’s horse.
Winner of his maiden hurdle at Limerick for Eugene O’Sullivan, the Mahler gelding impressed on his debut for de Bromhead in February last year, winning a Grade 3 hurdle at Clonmel, but it was always as a chaser that he was going to make his mark. He won his beginners’ chase on his chasing bow at Navan last year and, after running well in defeat behind Ballyward at Naas, he stepped forward again and won the Grade 2 Ten Up Chase at Navan last February. He got the better of a good duel with the talented Champagne Classic that day, and he had subsequent Kim Muir winner Any Second Now back in third.
His season petered out a bit after that, he was well beaten in Lostinstranslation’s Mildmay Chase at Aintree, and he was pulled up in Delta Work’s race at Punchestown. It may be that he is at his best when he is fresh, but he did win that Ten Up Chase just three weeks after the Naas race.
It may be a Navan thing, he is three for three now at the County Meath track. He also ran well in that race at Naas which is, like Navan, a galloping left-handed track with an uphill finish. Then again, he was impressive in winning over hurdles at Clonmel, a tighter, right-handed track.
Three miles and soft ground. Maybe that’s the key.
What is not in dispute is that he is a highly talented and progressive young steeplechaser. The handicapper has raised him by 13lb for Sunday’s win to a mark of 159, and it is difficult to argue that he didn’t merit a significant hike.
Henry de Bromhead mentioned the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January as a possible target now, and that is a realistic option. Invitation Only was rated 152 when he won the Thyestes last season. Champagne West was rated 154 when he won it for Henry de Bromhead in 2017. Djakadam was rated 153 when he won it in 2015.
But Chris’s Dream could go beyond handicaps now. He would not be out of place in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, or in the Irish Gold Cup there in February.
Cash Back wasn’t foot-perfect in the beginners’ chase, but he was still impressive in winning it. Willie Mullins’ horse was a little long at the fourth last fence, and he was a bit tight to the third last and the last, but he battled on well for Paul Townend when he was challenged by Capuccimix between the last two fences, and he was strong up the run-in.
This is a beginners’ chase that Willie Mullins has won in the past with Vautour, Douvan, Min and Al Boum Photo and, second in a Grade 2 novices’ hurdle at Fairyhouse last April, it was a good start to Cash Back’s chasing career.
Following the withdrawal of Sixshooter and Abacadabras from the Grade 3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle, fellow Gigginstown House horse Fury Road had no more than an exercise canter in landing odds of 1/25 under a motionless Davy Russell. We learned nothing new about Gordon Elliott’s horse here, but he remains a talented staying novice hurdler.
His trainer said afterwards that he could go for the three-mile novices’ hurdle at Limerick over Christmas, or for the Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas Hurdle at Naas in early January over two and a half, a race that the trainer won last year with Battleoverdoyen.
And Bigbadandbeautiful was impressive in winning the mares’ bumper. She was well back in the field early on, and it looked like she had plenty to do at the top of the home straight, but Jamie Codd always appeared confident. The rider delivered the Big Bad Bob mare with a smooth run to hit the front inside the final furlong, and she stayed on well to win comfortably.
Second behind Santa Rossa in the Grade 2 mares’ bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown last February, Gordon Elliott’s mare has now won her last three bumpers, and she was conceding weight to all her rivals on Sunday. She is obviously progressive and, from the family of Rose Ravine, she could do even better if and when she steps up in trip.
Laurina was top of the bill at Gowran Park on Saturday, and she didn’t disappoint in the two-and-a-half-mile beginners’ chase. She and Minella Indo had the market and the race between them from a fair way out. The pair of them moved on from Laurina’s stable/owner companion Small Farm at the top of the home straight, and Laurina jumped on at the third last. She got in a little tight to the second last, but she was very good at the last, and she won easily.
You couldn’t have asked for more really from Willie Mullins’ mare on this, her chasing debut. Her jumping was good, and she beat a talented rival in Minella Indo, with the pair of them coming clear. She was well beaten in the Champion Hurdle the last time she raced but, winner of the mares’ novices’ hurdle at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, she is a fine strapping mare who could do even better over fences than over hurdles.
She could drop back down in trip now, and it is not unreasonable to think of her as an Arkle Trophy prospect, but she saw out this trip well, and three of her six wins over hurdles were over two and a half miles. It is interesting that Willie Mullins mentioned the Grade 1 novices’ chase at Limerick over two and a half miles over Christmas as a potential next step for her, but he has also mentioned that race as a possible target for Faugheen, so it will be interesting to see if and how he splits them up.
Minella Indo ran a fine race too in defeat. Henry de Bromhead’s horse matched Laurina throughout, and his jumping was good, before she just appeared to out-pace him from the third last.
This was his first chase too, and it was his first run since April, so he should come on for it. He should also come on for a step up in trip, and he was conceding 7lb to Laurina.
He sprang a 50/1 shock in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March, he and Rachael Blackmore – a first Grade 1 win for the rider – coming clear from the top of the home straight, and he followed up by winning the Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival, when he defied his weakness in the market. Barry Maloney’s horse remains a live RSA Chase candidate.
Getabird battled on well to win the Talbot Hotel Carlow Chase. He was a little keen ideal early on, but he was strong in the finish, staying on well for Paul Townend to get the better of Paloma Blue.
This was just Getabird’s fourth chase, he was off the track last season between Christmas, when he was beaten by Hardline in that Limerick race, until the Punchestown Festival in April, when he was pulled up in Delta Work’s race, so it was good to see him back.
He jumped to his right again here, he really does want to go right-handed, so you have to think that his immediate plans will not involve Leopardstown or Cheltenham. The John Durkan Chase at Punchestown next month is an option, and he does hold an entry in that race, but it might come up too quickly after this. Maybe the Savills Chase at Tramore on New Year’s Day, the race that Al Boum Photo won last year. That could be a good race for him.
Finally, Footpad was seriously impressive in winning the Listed Boomerang.ie Chase at Thurles last Thursday.
He was keen and enthusiastic, but his jumping was very good and, when Daryl Jacob gave him a squeeze at the second last fence, he came clear of his rivals.
Willie Mullins’ horse had an eminently forgettable season last term, he fell at Naas on his debut when Saint Calvados had him beaten, and he was caught by Simply Ned at Leopardstown, and he disappointed in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when sent off as favourite.
He remains a highly talented individual though. He was five for five as a novice chaser, he won the Arkle and the Irish Arkle and he won the Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival, and it was great to see him back.
He saw out the two-mile-six-furlong trip well on Thursday and, winner of the Grade 1 Prix Alain du Breil over two and a half miles as a four-year-old hurdler, there is every chance that he can get three miles in top class company this season over fences, and talk of the King George is legitimate talk.
For more from Donn visit www.donnmcclean.com