Great Field should be tough to beat, on his belated seasonal debut, in the Grade 2 Toals.com Bookmakers Webster Cup, centrepiece of today’s rescheduled card in Navan.
Unbeaten in four starts last season and a convincing winner of the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival on his most recent start, the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old must concede weight to his five rivals.
But, reunited with Jody McGarvey, who has partnered him to each of his trail-blazing chase wins, the J P McManus-owned gelding, whose jumping occasionally gives his supporters a fright, sets a decent standard.
Obvious danger is Gordon Elliott’s progressive Doctor Phoenix, a bargain buy, which has won two valuable handicap chases and, last time, a Grade 3 event in Naas (when he came from off the pace to beat Alisier D’Irlande) for his new trainer.
With plenty of front-runners in the field, Great Field mightn’t get things his own way up front. But he’s a class act, open to further improvement.
The Paul Nolan-trained Fitzhenry is expected to confirm recent Naas form with Last Encounter in the three-mile Irish Stallion Farms Novice Handicap Chase.
Gordon Elliott should continue on his winning ways with Cartwright in the Irish Race Writers Kingsfurze Novice Hurdle, and Sunsetstorise in the Toals.com Bookmakers Specials Handicap Chase.
Impressive winner of his maiden in Naas (beating a subsequent winner), Cartwright finished a close fourth to Hardline in a Grade 2 on the same track last time and is a
class-dropper with obvious claims.
And, off the track since winning the race for Francis Flood last year, Sunsetstorise is very interesting on his stable debut, particularly if he’s strong in the market.
Meanwhile, in Dundalk tonight, Fozzy Stack’s Zihba, smooth conqueror of Port Lions on his debut three days before Christmas, is napped to land the Jimmy McGeough Median Auction Race.
this looks a good opportunity for the Choisir colt, a late withdrawal from the listed Patton Stakes recently, but set to concede 5lb, plus Shane Crosse’s 10lb claim, to 80-rated Irish minister.
Peter O’Hehir’s tips for Navan
1.55.I Am Sailing
Double: Fitzhenry and Sunsetstorise.
O’Hehir’s Longshot: Oscar Lantern (4.05)
Peter O’Hehir’s tips for Dundalk
8.30.Chateau La Fleur
6.00.It’s All A Joke
7.30.Hes Our Music
Double : Zihba and Bien Chase.
O’Hehir’s Longshot : Lady Rosebud