Views from connections and Man On The Spot verdicts ahead of two Graded events at Navan on Sunday.
2.10 Navan - TheTote.com Fortria Chase
Views from connections
Ballyoisin bids to continue his winning spree in thetote.com Fortria Chase at Navan on Sunday.
Enda Bolger's stable star has been in a rich vein of form in recent months, following up impressive victories over fences at Killarney and Punchestown with a lucrative success in a valuable handicap hurdle at Listowel in September.
With the brilliant Footpad having taken up an alternative engagement, Bolger is hoping his charge can see off four rivals in this two-mile Grade Two.
He said: "We sort of have to follow these conditions races around now with his rating and this looks a nice race for him. It looks like the ground should be OK. As long as there's no jar in it we'll be happy.
"I was glad to see Footpad not declared, but it still looks a good race. He's in good form and we're looking forward to it."
Ballyoisin is one of two runners representing owner JP McManus along with the the Jessica Harrington-trained Rock The World.
Gordon Elliott saddles Doctor Phoenix, Henry de Bromhead runs Ordinary World and in the absence of Footpad and Great Field, Willie Mullins relies on the consistent mare Listen Dear.
The eight-year-old has finished second on each of her three outings since returning from over a year on the sidelines and while she receives weight all round, she still has a work cut out on official ratings.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: "She's getting a bit of weight off the other horses and she's race-fit. Hopefully she can pick up a big of black type and a bit of prize-money."
Man On The Spot verdict
BALLYOISIN beat Woodland Opera easily at Punchestown and the runner-up went on to complete a hat-trick. Enda Bolger's charge has since won a Grade B handicap hurdle at Listowel and, as he's only seven, is looking a very smart prospect with much better races in his sights. Doctor Phoenix was receiving 6lb when beaten almost four lengths in a Cork handicap by the selection last October but that was his first run for the yard and he subsequently won three times, including a Grade 3. He's another to look forward to this year while Ordinary World has competed in most of the major 2m races over the past couple of seasons and is race-fit after a run over a trip too far at Gowran. Listen Dear has managed to win eight times though hasn't quite progressed as expected over fences and Rock The World has a lot to find.
1.05 Navan - For Auction Novice Hurdle
Views from connections
The powerhouse yards of Elliott and Mullins also do battle in the Grade Three For Auction Novice Hurdle.
Elliott has claimed this prize in each of the last two years, with Labaik and Mengli Khan respectively, and his main contender this time is Felix Desjy.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned five-year-old won two bumpers last season before finishing sixth in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and fifth in the corresponding race at Punchestown, and steps up to Grade Three level following an impressive hurdling debut at Galway.
Elliott, who also runs busy mare Make My Heart Fly, said: "At the moment Felix Desjy would look a likely candidate for the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse, but he's got to come through Navan at the weekend first.
"He was a very good bumper horse last season, but was just a shade too keen so I was delighted to see him settle as he did when he won on his hurdling debut at Galway last month. Sunday will tell us more but I'm hoping to see him progress into a high-class novice hurdler."
Mullins saddles Quick Grabim, who must concede weight all round after winning a Grade Three at Tipperary last month, as well as Aramon, who won on his hurdling debut at Kilbeggan before finding Triplicate too strong at Listowel.
Mullins junior said: "Quick Grabim has to carry a penalty, but he was very impressive in Tipperary and we're hoping he's going to be a Grade One horse. If he is, then he should be good enough to carry the penalty.
"Aramon is a horse who goes well at home and we were a bit disappointed when he got beaten in Listowel. However, they went very steady that day and it wasn't really run to suit.
"We're hoping for an improved performance on Sunday."
De Bromhead's course-and-distance winner Daybreak Boy and Choungaya, from Joseph O'Brien's yard, add further strength in depth.
Man On The Spot verdict
Quick Grabim is progressing well and had little difficulty landing a similar class event from Triplicate at Tipperary for which he's penalised. Ruby Walsh takes over from Paul Townend, who is on board Aramon who was beaten by Triplicate at Listowel in September and may do better over further. FELIX DESJY, a winner between the flags and of two bumpers, had little to beat on his hurdling bow at Galway but did it nicely and in receipt of 7lb from the top weight looks the one to beat. All of the remainder have been in winning form with the selection's stable companion Make My Heart Fly continuing to perform with credit after completing a four-timer in minor company. Magnium has changed stables since a smooth maiden victory at Killarney and is one to note for the future.