Navan racecourse stages its Boyne Hurdle card on Sunday with a Grade 2 Novice Chase and Listed Novice Hurdle helping to make up a high-class days racing. The first race goes to post at 1.10 with 17 runners set to line up in division 1 of the 2 mile maiden hurdle. We haven’t seen Horantzau D’airy since the gelding was beaten 6 lengths when second of 17 runners on hurdling debut in a Leopardstown maiden hurdle in December 2021. However, that is a race that produced several subsequent winners and if fit this French bumper winner could leave that lengthy absence behind for Willie Mullins. Gordon Elliott has won this race three times in the last 8 years and has three runners in this renewal with point-to-point winner Zefiro Dodville set for a fist start under rules while Firm Footings has placed in all three maiden hurdle starts so far after winning a Galway bumper last October.
Division II of the race is at 1.40 and follows a similar theme to the opener with Willie Mullins saddling up a French winner in Ho My Lord, who was sent off at 5/2 for his first start in Ireland only to fall early doors in a Leopardstown maiden hurdle. Gordon Elliott really attacks the race with a team of five runners, among them is dual PTP runner-up Zettabyte who cost £75,000 at the Cheltenham December sales. The winner of one of those races between the flags has since won a maiden hurdle in Britain for Dan Skelton.
The 2.10 race is a Listed 2 mile Novice Hurdle with 3-time bumper winner and recent Naas maiden hurdle victor Hunters Yarn heading up the early betting for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. A runner with even stronger bumper form is American Mike with the Champion bumper third on a recovery mission having been turned over at short odds in a Grade 3 at Navan when last seen. Gavin Cromwell has been enjoying a good spell of late and his runner Inothewayurthinkin ran respectfully in Grade 1 company last time and looks a major player. While Tactical Move looks to be Mullins second string, the 9-year-old overcame a major absence to win a 22 runner maiden hurdle at Punchestown in January and must be respected. Imagine was less than a length behind Inothewayurthinkin at Gowran at the end of last year and will get 3lbs off that rival this time so he’s another to note at a price.
The feature Boyne Hurdle is at 2.40 with the unbeaten hurdler Blazing Khal set to make a long awaited reappearance having not been seen since plundered back-to-back Grade 2’s at Cheltenham at the end of 2021 for Charles Byrnes. Saint Sam has struggled at the top-level for Willie Mullins but could be a player at this level having bolted up when upped in trip at Punchestown after reverting to hurdling last time. Last seasons cross country winner at Cheltenham, Delta Work will be using this as a tune up for another tilt at the XC next month as we saw from his old stable mate Tiger Roll in previous years. Grade 1 wineer Sire Du Berlais adds to the star power although the JP McManus charge has struggled in his last three outings with similar comment applying to former Bar One Racing Drinmore winner Beacon Edge.
There’s an 80-102 Handicap Hurdle at 3.10 with Gordon Elliott’s Artic Ambition of major interest given he’s 10 pounds below his last winning chase mark as he reverts to hurdling. Gold Haven makes a first start for Paul Flynn having just been touched off at Navan last time with Danny Mullins a notable booking on the mare who’s wearing first-time cheekpieces.
The 3 mile Grade 2 Novice Chase takes place at 3.40 with the Grade 2 hurdle winner Mahler Mission an improving chaser who hacked up by 10 lengths in a beginners at Navan last time.
Churchstonewarrior was a Grade 1 runner-up last time and is down in grade.
The penultimate race at 4.10 is a wide open 3 mile handicap chase where cases can be made for many of the field of 17 runners. Sunday’s card concludes with a bumper with last years winning trainer Willie Mullins saddling a couple of newcomers in PTP winner The Gunner Yeats and Walk In The Park gelding Rule The Wind who is out of an unraced half-sister to Champion Hurdle winner Brave Inva.