Harvard Guy proves top of the class in Tara Hurdle

Eddie and Patrick Harty’s Harvard Guy continued his progression with success in the Download The BetVictor App Tara Handicap Hurdle at Navan.

The five-year-old was a winner over the same course and distance when making his seasonal debut in November, a run that was also his first success of any kind as he did not get his head in front in five starts last term.

Returning to Navan at Listed level was a significant step forward, especially under a 10lb rise, but the JP McManus-owned gelding ran a pleasing race to take up the lead over the last and strike by two lengths as the 3-1 joint-favourite.

“He’s a nice horse in the making, but he is in the making,” said Harty senior.

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“Some of them go up 10lb and it’s a bit like a 16-year-old going from Junior B to Senior in one go, that’s what he’s had to do but he’s won nicely.

“He’ll get further in time and will jump fences in time. He’s going the right way and it’s nice to have one of them again. It’s a while since we’ve had one.

“He’s a fine horse. He grew up big time today from the last time and he grew up big time the last time from last year which is what you want.

“Where we go from here I don’t know. If I’d said at the start of the year that he’d be unbeaten at Christmas having won a Listed hurdle I would have taken my temperature!”

When asked if the Dublin Racing Festival could be a target the trainer added: “I would think so, if it wasn’t too quick for him ground-wise. He’s a big raw horse still.”

The first two contests on the card were won by rider Danny Mullins, who landed the Irish Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle aboard Spread Boss Ted (2-1) and the BetVictor Proud To Support Irish Racing Maiden Hurdle aboard Dancing City (9-4), both for his uncle Willie Mullins.

The latter was a four-and-a-half-length winner and was cut from 50-1 to 33-1 with Coral for the Albert Bartlett as a result.

“Off the bend I was off the bridle, but I was happy that once I met the rising ground I would find more,” said the winning jockey.

“He missed the last and still ran out a good winner so all-in-all it’s probably a good performance.

“For such a big horse he’s getting it together. When we were chatting this morning about them Paul (Townend) said the last day he was a bit raw. Between us we made a plan and it worked.

“This was a maiden, hacking around, and in a more truly-run race we might see a bit more. He has that bit if class that he will stay but we maybe don’t have to go there just yet.”

John Ryan has high hopes for Lucid Dreams after his 22-length success at 5-6 in the two-runner Ryans Cleaning Rated Novice Chase, a win that could now lead to the Guinness Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick later in the month.

The trainer said: “He’ll probably go for the Grade One novice chase at Limerick, he’s entered there. I’d say two and a half (miles) is his trip.

“I was thinking about the 0-140 in Leopardstown but I shouldn’t have come here if I was thinking about that off 140!

“He’ll probably give me a few pounds for that as he hammered him (the runner up), he put 22 lengths between him.

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“Liam (Quinlan) said he felt like he was only doing a hack canter everywhere, he said he was a different class horse.

“He’s probably a Grade One horse, he’s a big strong horse to carry weight.”

Gavin Cromwell’s Pour Pavore took the Kevin Brady Car Sales Handicap Chase by 13 lengths at 6-1, after which Gordon Elliott’s The Enabler won the concluding BetVictor Future Champions INH Flat Race as the 5-4 favourite.

The four-year-old is already a bumper winner and made the step up to Listed level neatly with a four-length victory.

“He’s a nice horse. We knew he’d improved, he’s improving the whole time, and I’d say he’s a proper horse,” said Elliott.

“We won’t do too much more this year, maybe go to Naas (on February 25th). We’ve all the options for him, he looks very good. I wouldn’t be thinking of going to Cheltenham.”

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