Sandor Clegane chasing first win over fences at Navan

Sandor Clegane will look to get off the mark over fences when he heads to Navan on Saturday.

The Paul Nolan-trained seven-year-old was a good quality hurdler who finished a close third in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham last season and then went on to win the valuable Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final at Punchestown.

He made his chasing debut at Fairyhouse in early November and finished fourth whilst gaining experience around an insufficient trip of two miles and a half a furlong.

At Punchestown later the same month the gelding was stepped up in both trip and level to contest the Florida Pearl Novice Chase, a Grade Two run over three miles for which he was a 7-2 chance.

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Gordon Elliott’s Favori De Champdou was an easy 14-length winner of that race as Sandor Clegane finished second with Flooring Porter, Affordale Fury and Quilixios behind him.

Navan will be the next port of call for the bay, who holds an entry for the Jack Kiernans Celebrating 55 Years In Business Beginners Chase over three miles on Saturday.

“He’s in good form, we were a bit disappointed by how far he was beaten the last day but hopefully we have our reasons,” said Nolan.

“Hopefully he’ll jump well and run a nice race, we’ll know a lot more after Saturday.”

Reflecting on the Punchestown run, the form from which is varied as Favori De Champdou was well beaten next time out yet Quilixios won comfortably, Nolan added: “There were a couple of fences that he was perhaps a little bit scratchy at, but I thought he was far better the last day than he was the first day and he looked like he enjoyed himself far more.

“We were way happier with his jumping than the first day so it was definitely a step forward, but when you’re beaten a long way you always start asking questions.

Sandor Clegane on his final start over hurdles at Punchestown
Sandor Clegane on his final start over hurdles at Punchestown (Brian Lawless/PA)

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“That can happen at times, horses can perform out of their skin on certain days and that might be totally reversed the next day.

“You can’t read too much into other horses, you have to concentrate on what you have yourself.

“He’s the best we have so we’ll concentrate on him and find the race we think is most suitable for him.

“That’s what we’re doing, we’ll creep before we walk and see where it will take us.”

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