Ben Ready To Pounce At Navan
A double meeting in Ireland on Sunday brings a close to jump racing there prior to the hectic Christmas schedule.
But there’s a chance we can go into Christmas with a couple of winners, one of which will have to defy top weight at Navan.
Ben Ready To Pounce
Ross O’Sullivan is currently overseeing the preparation of Baie Des Iles for the Welsh National at Chepstow and his stable can gain some confidence ahead of that raid with Bendanella in the Round O Pub Handicap Chase at 2.55.
The lightly raced eight-year-old is making his handicap debut, so trust is put in the handicapper Noel O’Brien that he has weighed this horse up correctly. But he did win a handicap hurdle around Sligo off the same mark of 116 so hopefully he has the potential to do that and more over the larger obstacles.
At Fairyhouse the last day he ran well for a long way and hopefully can come on for that as he steps out of novice company and into the handicap grade. At around about 6/1 he looks a good bet on a tricky card.
Elliott v Mullins Again
The Navan Novice Hurdle looks a cracker with Death Duty taking on Invitation Only and while Death Duty gets a tentative vote, it’s not a race to try and obtain the Christmas expenses.
Gordon Elliott’s Labaik decided he didn’t fancy taking part in the Royal Bond last time and it’s not the first time he’s done that so he is hard to back not knowing if you are even going to get a run for your money down to the first hurdle. But I still retain plenty of faith in the quirky five-year-old and that’s why it’s a race that is almost best watched.
Baltazar D’allier made a good impression winning at Naas and there could be more to come from Invitation Only.
So while this race may have lost its Grade 1 status recently, it certainly has the foundations to be a memorable renewal. With Samcro lining up in the bumper on the same card, there will be worse places to be on Sunday.
Willow To The Rescue At Thurles
John Ryan and Danny Mullins have both enjoyed memorable years and are currently in the middle of their best ever seasons and they can combine again to succeed with Willow Grange this time in the Molony Cup.
Willow Grange has been knocking on the door of late and has been unlucky not to get his head in front and despite being 7lbs higher in the handicap than when Mullins won on him back in September at Sligo.
The eight-year-old can go in again in what looks to be a modest enough contest at the Tipperary track.
Connections should suit and he’s a horse who is always there or thereabouts so with a nice racing weight he can hopefully go one better than his effort over hurdles at Limerick a couple of weeks ago.
Bendanella – 2.55 Navan
Willow Grange – 1.00 Thurles
*Prices correct at time of publication.