Boyne Hurdle tips – Big-race preview of Sunday’s Navan feature
Brian Healy looks over the big-race field for Sunday’s feature race at Navan and gives his Boyne Hurdle tips.
The feature race of the day at Navan in Ireland is the Grade Two Boyne Hurdle which gets underway at 1.50pm as the second race on the card at the County Meath track.
The Grade Two highlight takes place over a trip of 2m 5f and this year boasts a first prize pot of €27,000 where a strong field of ten runners will go to post. The big -race line-up includes last year’s winner Tiger Roll who took this prize en-route to winning the Cross-country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival for a second successive year and then landing a second Aintree Grand National.
Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the big-race field and gives his Boyne Hurdle tips to land the Grade Two feature race on Sunday.
BOYNE HURDLE TIPS – BRIAN HEALY’S SELECTION
Gordon Elliott’s dual-Grand National hero Tiger Roll (4/1, Betway) took this prize impressively twelve months ago and bids to double up before heading to Cheltenham and Aintree where he’ll bid to win both the Cross-country Chase and Grand National respectively for the third straight year.
The Authorized gelding had the benefit of a run when bolting up at big odds last year, but he has no such luxury this time around and has to give away weight all round to a strong field of rivals. He can go well in his title defence but lack of an outing this term is a slight worry and he could prove vulnerable this time around.
Tiger Roll is joined in the line-up by stablemate Cracking Smart (28/1, Betway) who hasn’t built on his early career promise that saw him place in a Grade One when denied only one length by Next Destination in the 2018 Lawlor’s Of Naas Hurdle.
The Great Pretender gelding finished third in this race twelve months ago, but he’s largely struggled this term over fences and when returning to hurdles for his last couple of outings. He’s winless since winning a Listed hurdle at Cork back in November 2017 and he looks up against it here.
Joseph O’Brien’s Darasso (6/1, William Hill) showed good form in France prior to joining this yard where he has been highly tried in his handful of runs to date. However he did manage to post a win over hurdles at Gowran Park last February before following up over fences here the following month when taking Grade Two honours.
The Konig Turf gelding ran in snatches on his reappearance in the Haydock Champion Hurdle Trial and he turned out at Gowran Park on Saturday where he was readily brushed aside by Cilaos Emery. He’s unlikely to line up here as a result just 24 hours on, but he’d have to find a decent chunk of improvement in any case to win this.
One of three in the race for Willie Mullins, Bachasson (13/2, Ladbrokes) has suffered his fair share of problems but he has proved himself to be a high-class performer when at his best.
The Voix Du Nord gelding hasn’t been seen since finishing fourth in this race twelve months ago, shaping as if amiss; but he had beaten Darasso the time before on his return to action and he has a good record when fresh so could play a part.
It might be telling though that stable jockey Paul Townend prefers Penhill however, and he’ll need to be at his best here if he’s to be challenging for top honours.
Killultagh Vic (25/1, Betway) has been a prolific winner over hurdles and fences in his younger days, but he is without a win since scoring on his return from 714 days at Punchestown back in December 2017.
The veteran Old Vic gelding has ran well enough on all three starts this term without seriously threatening although he was beaten the thick end of forty lengths by Benie Des Dieux when last seen in the Galmoy Hurdle.
The drop back in trip in unlikely to see Willie Mullins’ old-timer return to winning ways and with his star seemingly on the wane he looks hard to fancy even with the assistance of Rachael Blackmore in the saddle.
2018 Stayers’ Hurdle champion Penhill (9/1, Paddy Power) hasn’t stood a lot of racing with a series of niggles which has curtailed his racing time. However, he remains very capable of smart form and the Mount Nelson gelding can give a good account.
Willie Mullins’ charge has raced just four times since that Cheltenham Festival success, chasing home Faugheen on his next start at Punchestown and then returning from 584 days off the track at Fairyhouse in the Hatton’s Grade Hurdle where he looked in need of the run.
He has built on that return to finish third at Leopardstown over Christmas in the Frank Ward Memorial Hurdle and latterly he found only Benie Des Dieux too good in the Galmoy Hurdle where he finished ahead of stablemate Killultagh Vic.
The drop back in trip is a slight concern, but he is working his way back into top form judging on his past few efforts and with Paul Townend siding with him over the other Closutton runners he could post a big run here.
Smart bumper performer Brace Yourself (50/1, Coral) won his sole start over hurdles back in November 2018 after which he was absent for more than a year before returning to action over fences this campaign.
Noel Meade’s charge has struggled in his two starts in that sphere, finishing seventh at Fairyhouse in November and then falling at Leopardstown over Christmas. That was a good contest won by Easy Game, but he was held when coming down four out.
Back over the smaller obstacles he surely has more to offer in this sphere where he is thoroughly unexposed; but this is much tougher and the Mahler gelding will do well to get involved in this much tougher race.
Fine Rightly (100/1, Bet365) is a capable performer at his best but he hasn’t won for almost four years with his last success coming in a Grade Three contest over fences at Cork back in March 2016.
Stuart Crawford’s veteran Alflora gelding pulled up when last seen in action at Ayr last month behind Portrush Ted. He might have needed that return however and he ought to strip fitter now.
However he looks to have a mountain to climb given he’s rated fully 33lbs below Tiger Roll and as twelve year old now his powers very much look to be on a downward slide. He’s likely to be out-classed in this line-up and it would be a shock to see him take this prize.
Has found a big jolt of improvement since returning to hurdles this term, winning both starts at Naas and here latterly. That last win saw him beat Alfa Mix by just over one length.
Edward Harty’s Yeats gelding tackles his toughest to date upped significantly in grade. However he could easily take this step up in class in his stride given that he won readily latest.
His hurdles form has seen Kilfenora (11/4, Unibet) rated only 4lbs below Tiger Roll so every chance he can post a big effort here. He has the potential still to improve and although he faces a strong field of rivals he could have a big say in proceedings.
MAGIC OF LIGHT
Jessica Harrington’s Magic Of Light (9/2, Bet365) has shown her class as a dual-purpose performer, bouncing back from a couple of lesser runs last term to chase home Tiger Roll in the Aintree Grand National and the Flemensfirth mare has been in excellent fettle this campaign.
Third to Bacardys on her reappearance here in the Lismullen Hurdle in November, she has won both subsequent starts over fences and hurdles. The latter of those wins saw her run out an impressive winner of the Warfield Hurdle.
Like Tiger Roll, she will have the Aintree Grand National has her ultimate target this campaign; but she is dangerous to discount in this contest where she gets weight all round. Trip and ground are no concern and no surprise to see her post a big run in pursuit of her hat-trick.
BOYNE HURDLE VERDICT
Dual-Grand National winner Tiger Roll bolted up in this race twelve months ago, but he had had the benefit of a previous run on that occasion. As such, Gordon Elliott’s star could prove vulnerable here off top weight on his return to action.
Gordon Elliott’s star might be worth taking on with 2018 Stayers’ Hurdle winner PENHILL (9/1, Paddy Power) who has been working his way back to top form following a lengthy absence and Willie Mullins’ charge has bettered his finishing position with each start.
Last of six behind Honeysuckle on his return from 584 days off the track, the Mount Nelson gelding has finished third and runner-up in his two subsequent outings. His last start saw him chase home Benie Des Dieux in the Galmoy Hurdle, finishing runner-up.
He could be capable of taking another forward step here with the drop in trip unlikely to present a problem and with underfoot conditions in his favour he can get back to winning ways here.