Navan Novice Hurdle to Shake Up Cheltenham Markets

Navan and Thurles stage the last of the jump racing in Ireland before Christmas and there’s some quality on offer throughout both cards but it is the Grade 2 Navan Novice Hurdle that might reshuffle a few ante post markets for the Cheltenham Festival.

Next Stop for Mullins

Cracking Smart is a horse that looks more than capable of winning some good novice prizes this season and he’s potentially a live contender for the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham but connections have opted to drop him to 2m 4f for this Navan race in the absence of stable companion Samcro.

It’s an interesting move but it shouldn’t inconvenience him too much only that he’ll struggle to live with the gears of Next Destination.

While Cracking Smart goes down in trip Next Destination is stepping up but the manner in which he won his maiden hurdle at Naas was extremely impressive and he just pulled away from the final hurdle to the line to record a mammoth 13-length victory that couldn’t have been predicted when jumping the last.

This promises to be a classy little race with Jetz in the mix also but Next Destination is the one they all have to beat and it would be a surprise if he can’t make it two from two but maybe prior to the race you might want to have a bet on Cracking Smart for the Albert Bartlett. If he does manage to win this today you are likely to see his price for the three-miler crumble because his chances of taking on Samcro in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle would obviously be slim.

Following a star

It is nice to be somewhat in the mix in the Irish Field Nap table and I’m hoping She’s A Star can help me closer to the top with just a couple of weeks remaining.

Noel Meade’s five-year-old has been consistent lately on her last two starts and she can go a couple of places better now.

Diamond Cauchois is an obvious threat but She’s A Star ran well in a hot race at Fairyhouse a couple of weeks ago and now steps up in trip here which can help her win for the fourth time on the track on ground that doesn’t seem to bother her.

Magical Blackmore

At Thurles it looks as if Ross O’Sullivan has found a perfect opportunity for Call It Magic by running the seven-year-old in a rated novice hurdle and taking advantage of the lower hurdle mark the horse has compared to his chase mark.

The seven-year-old has really returned to form of late and won his last two over larger obstacles

and one can imagine that this outing is ultimately a prep for a bigger target over fences but it is a €16,500 contest that Call It Magic can take the lion’s share of by holding off the probable market leader Dom Dolo who might just lack the experience to beat the selection.