American Mike toughs it out for Ten Up triumph

American Mike came out on top after a good battle with Nick Rockett in the William Hill Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan.

Gordon Elliott’s gelding won on his seasonal debut at the track in November, making a successful start to his chasing career over a lesser trip of two miles and four furlongs.

His next outing was in the Grade One Faugheen Chase, where he came home fourth of five runners when 25 lengths behind Gaelic Warrior at Limerick.

Stepped up to three miles at Navan, the bay was a 7-2 chance under Jack Kennedy and travelled well throughout, jumping soundly on the whole and finding himself in the lead approaching the last.

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From there, he seemed to dither slightly and it appeared that Willie Mullins’ Nick Rockett might pass him, but as the two locked horns approaching the line, it was American Mike who eventually pulled away to win by a length and a quarter.

As a result of the victory, he was clipped from 33-1 to 20-1 for the Turners Novices’ Chase with Betfair and from 25-1 to 12-1 for the same race with Coral.

“To be honest, he’s probably one of the horses that makes me scratch my head more than any other. He keeps disappointing me and then he comes back with a good one again,” said Elliott.

“He has obviously got a big engine on his day, when he’s right, but he’s not easy to train. I thought Jack gave him a great ride.

“I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going with him, he’s a horse that baffles me.

“We’ve just tipped away with him steady at home and haven’t over-worked him, as he was very fit going to Christmas but just didn’t get home.

“He’s in a few of the novice chases at Cheltenham and he could go for an Irish National. I don’t know what I’m going to do with him, to be honest.

“We’ll enjoy today, he’s won a graded race for Noel and Valerie (Moran, owners) at their local track, they are big supporters of Navan and the whole game.”

Runner-up Nick Rockett lost nothing in defeat and was trimmed to 5-1 from 6-1 for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham by Betfair.

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