The Irish Times

Forecast leaves Navan manager ‘quietly confident’

French champion jockey Ricou to make Irish debut at Meath track tomorrow

- BRIAN O’CONNOR

Fingers remain crossed weather conditions won’t play spoilsport again to Ireland’s weekend racing action, with Navan’s Sunday card in particular appearing to have a good chance of getting a green light.

Although Tramore has to pass an 8.30am inspection today, and Cork is due to inspect at 8am tomorrow to see if the Grade 2 Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase fixture can finally be run off a week late, Navan officials are “quietly confident” about their chances.

“We are forecast 30mm of rain up to Sunday morning, but it is expected to dry up in the morning so I would be quietly confident, even though I’m reluctant to tempt fate after last weekend when wind, which we hadn’t expected at all, caught us out,” said manager Peter Killeen.

The impact of bad weather in Ireland remains in contrast to Britain, where Cheltenham’s latest meeting sees two Irish hopefuls, Texas Jack and Mozoltov, line up in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.

Ruby Walsh is in Cheltenham to ride Sempre Medici in the Grade 2 Internatio­nal Hurdle and also partners Mozoltov, with Gigginstow­n Stud’s number one rider Bryan Cooper scheduled to go to Tramore for one ride.

“The other horse (Mozoltov) is having his first run back in a good while and Bryan was going to Tramore for two good chances, except Monbeg Rose has ended up a reserve,” explained Gigginstow­n Stud’s Eddie O’Leary.

Another eye-catching jockey booking for Gigginstow­n this weekend is a first appearance in Ireland for the five-times French champion jumps jockey, Jacques Ricou, who teams up with the O’Leary second-sting, Stone Hard, in Sunday’s Grade 2 Navan NoviceHurd­le.

Ricou is spending time riding out for Willie Mullins, and with Cooper opting for Tycoon Prince in the four-runner heat, the champion trainer has turned to the Frenchman. It is Bellshill, though, who looks a likely winner if brushing up his jumping from a Cork debut.

Just three line up for the reschedule­d Grade 3 Klairon Davis Novice Chase, which looks an ideal opportunit­y for Ttebbob against a pair of Gordon Elliott trained rivals.

There will be huge interest around the second appearance of Ttebbob’s stable companion Our Duke in the Listed bumper. Jessica Harrington’s fiveyear-old could hardly have made a more impressive debut at Punchestow­n last month but this will be a real test, with a number of other highly regarded winners, including Death Duty, in opposition.

Bellshill is RubyWalsh’s sole Navan mount for Willie Mullins and although the jockey may be hedging his weather bets, the horse’s chance only looks to be emphasised by what Paul Townend is in line to step in for should Cork get the go ahead.

The former champion jockey is in sixth place in this season’s championsh­ip with 29 winners to date and it isn’t impossible Townend could sweep through the first four races.

Felix Yonger is one of three past winners to line up in the Hilly Way and he should have progressed for his Clonmel return to action, while Rite Of Passage’s half brother Gangster can also strike in the Grade 3 stayers novice hurdle.

Allblak Des Places has a first run in the Hurricane Fly colours in the opener and can use his experience from two starts over flights in France to advantage.

Au Quart de Tour has failed to deliver on a big reputation, but catching him fresh might be a plus on his hurdling debut, while Solita could relish the going more than her opposition in the mares’ chase.

 ?? PHOTOGRAPH: RYAN BYRNE/INPHO ?? Bryan Cooper: Heading to Tramore for only one ride now Monbeg Rose is on the reserve list.
PHOTOGRAPH: RYAN BYRNE/INPHO Bryan Cooper: Heading to Tramore for only one ride now Monbeg Rose is on the reserve list.

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