Big Weekend: Plenty of racing to look forward to in Gowran Park and Navan

Friday, November 23, 2018

Race of the weekend – Titanic Troytown

These mini-Grand Nationals are an almost impossible puzzle to solve but it is the uncertainty and unpredictability that makes major handicap chases of the ilk of Sunday’s Ladbrokes Troytown Chase at Navan such an attraction.

As a Meath man, Gordon Elliott has taken a shine to the Troytown and is pursuing a remarkable fifth triumph in a row. With a dozen of the 25 runners, he stands a better chance than anyone and should certainly pick up a significantly percentage of the €100,000 on offer.

As expected, the Mullins name ranks highly among the dangers but perhaps it is Tom who will put up the fiercest fight with Spider Web, a winner of the Ladbrokes Munster National in Limerick.

Irish Grand National victor, General Principle is just one of the Elliott battalion primed for action but it is the Welsh National victor, Raz De Maree who will surely bring the house down if he can claim the spoils for another local man, the flying farrier-turned-trainer Gavin Cromwell, just a few weeks shy of James Swan’s wonderful gelding turning 14.


Race of the weekend 2 – Plotting Potential

Owners and trainers will know a lot more about what they might have on their hands after the Ladbroke Novice Hurdle (1.10) at Gowran Park tomorrow. All the big guns are represented but there are plenty others shooting for the stars.

JP McManus has three runners, two housed in Carriganog with Joseph O’Brien and one further south in Waterford with Pat Flynn. Flynn is no stranger to big-time success courtesy of French Ballerina, Montelado, Salmon Eile, She’s Our Mark and Bahrain Storm. He also sold Designs On Rome to Hong Kong, where his former charge became Horse of the Year.

It has been a while since Flynn had a top-tier talent. It is too early to suggest Buttons And Bows could add to his tally of Cheltenham Festival winners, as a winner of a Cork maiden hurdle on her only public outing but the dream is alive.

Satoshi makes a quick return for the Elliott/Russell axis after being awarded a maiden hurdle in the stewards’ room at Punchestown last week, while Sizing Pottsie, representing Ann & Alan Potts Ltd, Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power has been highly touted for some time.

Audrey Turley wouldn’t be among Willie Mullins’ best-known patrons but she will be hoping Ruby Walsh can help Epswell bounce back from a poor showing last-time out.

Noel Meade runs Percy B Shelley over hurdles after an ordinary flat career, while Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore will be hoping for a good run from the unraced Gigginstown House-Stud owned Falco De Candale Aa, who in Walk In The Park, shares a sire with Douvan and Min. No pressure there then.


Trainer to watch – Tied up in a Bowe?

Colin Bowe is renowned as one of the premier producers of readymade National Hunt horses via his nursery at Milestone Stables. Snowy Morning, Shinrock Paddy and Clondaw Warrior went on to enjoy high-class careers. Same Difference, Western Warhorse, The Druids Nephew and Ballyalton are all Cheltenham Festival winners. So too is Samcro, of who so much is expected and introductions are not required.

While those horses were all sold after catching the eye on the point-to-point circuit, Bowe has potrayed his talents as more than educator however, as you might expect from someone who learned the ropes under Jim Bolger and Aidan O’Brien. Askanna, Little King Robin and Shantou Flyer were all graded winners under his stewardship.

The Kiltealy conditioner has three runners over the weekend under Rules but Western Victory is looking to add to the graded roll of honour in the G3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle, named in honour of the two-time Champion Hurdler.

As expected, the opposition is considerable but the filly lowered the colours of Grade 2 bumper winner Getaway Katie Mai on debut over hurdles last month and on that showing, stands every chance of rewarding one of Bowe’s most loyal supporters, Seán O’Neill.

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