Navan gets its National Hunt season under way on Sunday (23 September) and we are delighted to be sponsoring three races on the card.
Eye-catching entries include last season’s Cheltenham Festival winner, Veneer Of Charm, who is trained by Gordon Elliott, and Willie Mullins’ runner in the Meath Farm Machinery-sponsored bumper, Buck’s Billionaire, who is closely related to the former champion staying hurdler Big Buck’s.
Our involvement begins in the opening contest, the Bar One Racing Download The App Maiden Hurdle (2:05pm), which has been won in the last three years by subsequent Grade 1 winner, Mengli Khan, and Grade 3 chase and recent Listowel Harvest Festival winner, Ballyoisin.
Mengli Khan’s trainer Gordon Elliott’s runs two in the race – Batts Rock, winner of two of his three flat races since joining Gordon from Michael Bell in England, and recent Ayr winner Markhan. Both will be making their hurdling debuts.
Other runners include Peter Fahey’s three-time flat winner, High Kicker, Jessica Harrington’s promising Hyperdrive, Eddie Harty’s Punchestown bumper winner, Advantage Point, who finished just behind Hyperdrive at Galway last time on his hurdling debut, and Henry de Bromhead’s Daybreak Boy, who has been placed in two of his last four hurdle runs.
Peter Fahey also runs Punchestown bumper winner, Vocarium, plus former Dermot Weld inmate, Shamad, along with Gone Gallivanting, who will be ridden by Bryan Cooper, and Mizz Monroe (David Mullins), who is related to plenty of jumping winners, including dual-Grade 2 chase winner Simply Dashing.
Conor O’Dwyer runs Trump Card and Jon Ess, both of them winners on the flat at Dundalk.
We then sponsor the baroneracing.com Sign Up Bonus Hurdle (3:40pm), which has been won in the last two years by De Plotting Shed, now a winner of five races, and subsequent Grade 3 chase winner Moulin A Vent.
Gordon Elliott runs Veneer Of Charm, last season’s Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle winner at the Cheltenham Festival, while Barry Geraghty has been booked to ride Shay Barry’s Smitty Bacall, a winner at Killarney in August and Gowran Park in July.
Three of the eight runners won last time out – Jessica Harrington’s Tipperary maiden hurdle winner, Madison To Monroe, Michael Butler’s Down Royal maiden hurdle winner, Optical Confusion, and Bill Martin’s recent Cork maiden hurdle winner, Rolanna, who has won two of her last three races, one of them over hurdles and one on the flat so she will arrive at Navan in good heart.
Noel Meade will be represented by Major Destination, who has yet to build on his Ballinrobe chase win of 11 months ago, while Colin Bowe runs High Nellie, a winner at Limerick in July and one that seems to prefer ease in the going, which she will certainly get on Sunday.
The field is completed by dual-French chase winner Pi Ahio, who will be having just his second run for trainer Harry Rogers.
We are then delighted to have our name attached to the most-valuable race on the card, the €20,000 baroneracing.com Handicap Chase (4:45pm).
With trainers Gordon Elliott, Jessica Harrington and Henry de Bromhead all with runners, an interesting renewal lies ahead.
Jessica runs A Sizing Network, who looked so promising when winning two chases around this time last year, Henry runs recent Kilbeggan winner, Abbey Magic, while Gordon runs two – three-time Downpatrick winner Cecil Corbett, and Rightdownthemiddle, who won at Perth in July.
With the beginners’ chase (4:15pm) field including Henry de Bromhead’s good hurdler Trainwreck, Noel Meade’s Navan hurdle winner Dis Donc, and Gordon Elliott’s Its All Guesswork, who has been placed in all three of his chase runs so far, you get a further flavour of the what the card holds.
The bumper (5:15pm), as referred to earlier, is the penultimate race on the card.
The eighth and final race (5:45pm) is a Charity Race. With owner Qatar Racing represented by the Gordon Elliott-trained Brutal, and trainers Joseph O’Brien, Johnny Murtagh, John Feane, John Joe Murphy, Peter Fahey, Tracey Collins, Gavin Cromwell and Stephen Mahon also involved, it is sure to attract plenty of interest.
Sunday’s card is a great way for Navan to ease its way into the new National Hunt season, and we are delighted to be involved.