Tag Archive for: Navan

Elliott stands by Troytown team

Gordon Elliott has defended the number of runners he had in Navan’s Troytown Chase on Sunday after reiterating his desire to one day be crowned Ireland’s champion trainer.

Elliott ended up seeing 14 of his Cullentra House battalion face the starter for the  €100,000 handicap and saddled four of the first five home with 20-1 shot Coko Beach scooping the big pot for Gigginstown House Stud.

It is a contest Elliott has enjoyed great success in down the years and having been responsible for nearly three-quarters of the final field of 20, he simply believes he is doing what is best for both the horses in his yard and their owners by targeting the race.

Gordon Elliott with jockey Danny Gilligan and Coko Beach after winning the Troytown at Navan
Gordon Elliott with jockey Danny Gilligan and Coko Beach after winning the Troytown at Navan (Brian Lawless/PA)

“I started with nothing and didn’t get handed anything, I’ve worked for everything I’ve got,” explained Elliott.

“We didn’t stop any horse running in the race, the race didn’t fill and I think if I only run one or two horses then there might only be eight or nine in the race.

“I think for a €100,000 race, for Bar One who are sponsoring the race and for Navan, it would be embarrassing if there is only eight or nine runners in it.

“All my owners are paying training fees and entry fees and they want to run, so I don’t think I have anyone to answer to. All I want to do is do my best for every horse and every owner.”

Gordon Elliott currently tops the Irish trainers' championship
Gordon Elliott currently tops the Irish trainers’ championship (Brian Lawless/PA)

Coko Beach brought up winner 115 for the season for Elliott with American Mike’s impressive chasing debut quickly taking that total to 116.

He currently stands €500,000 ahead of his great rival Willie Mullins at the head of the standings in Ireland and although still dreaming of a first title, concedes his priorities have changed since his well-documented ban in 2021, with his focus firmly on training as many winners as possible..

“If you had asked me about that two or three years ago, it was all I would have thought about,” he said about the title.

“If you ask me my ambition in life, it is to be champion trainer, but I probably look at life a little different now to how I did before what happened (the ban).

“It’s what I want to do and what I would love to do and my aim in life, but you look at things and people a lot different.”

When asked about his current motivation, he added: “Winners. I’m probably selfish and all I care about is training winners. It’s not ideal sometimes but I love what I do.

“I love training winners. I worked for a man called Martin Pipe and he loved it and I’m probably unfortunate that I was born in the same era as a man called Willie Mullins.

“Willie makes us all better and hungrier and I just like to do my best and keep him honest.”

Although realistic about his own title ambitions, Cullentra House number one Jack Kennedy has a real chance of getting his hands on a first title having partnered 60 winners so far this term.

Jockey Jack Kennedy (right) and his boss Gordon Elliott
Jockey Jack Kennedy (right) and his boss Gordon Elliott (Brian Lawless/PA)

That puts him 18 clear of nearest rival Paul Townend and Elliott believes he is in a great position to remain on top spot until the end of the season.

“I would love to see Jack Kennedy be champion jockey and I think it’s going to happen some day,” said Elliott.

“Whether that is this year, next year or the year after I don’t know. Just looking he has 60 winners already and I think last year when he had the fall he had 77 winners during the first week in January.

“It looks like he is ahead of last year and it looks like he is in a better position than last year to be honest.

“Last time he always had to worry about Davy Russell and now he is first jockey and has the pick of everything. I’m sure it will be something he would love to do anyway.”

American Mike too strong for Fact To File at Navan

American Mike came out on top from Fact To File as the two high-class bumper performers made their fencing debuts under rules in the Race And Stay Irish EBF Beginners Chase at Navan.

The Gordon Elliott-trained American Mike never quite hit the heights over hurdles that his bumper career had promised, but judged on this evidence he is set to take high rank over the larger obstacles.

For his part, this year’s Champion Bumper runner-up Fact To File has missed out hurdling altogether to go straight over fences – a move his trainer Willie Mullins famously made with the brilliant Florida Pearl.

American Mike (9-4) and Jack Kennedy set out to make all, and while Fact To File (8-11 favourite) really quickened going to two out American Mike refused to give way and was three and a quarter lengths to the good at the line.

“I was delighted with him. In fairness to Jack he’s put a lot of work into this horse and has been schooling him every day himself. He’s even been changing the bit and doing different things with him,” said Elliott.

“He finished his race out today which is the first time he’s done it since he was a bumper horse.

“I got deflated with him over hurdles as he never finished one out. I think he might have bled one day and it took him a long time to get over it. He looked good there today and hopefully he can keep going forward.

“He could maybe go to Limerick at Christmas.”

Elliott, who has his string in tremendous shape, went on: “I’m absolutely thrilled, that one meant as much as all the rest of them because Noel and Valerie (Moran, owners) are from Navan and they are massive supporters of mine. That was extra special for me.

“They are good friends of mine and we hit the crossbar with a few yesterday. They deserved every bit of luck they get with what they are putting into horse racing and into Meath football. They are just brilliant people and for them to have a winner today meant a lot.

“For me Navan is up there with the best racecourses in Ireland. The festival has been great, the crowds are great and it’s great racing.

“We’re on to Punchestown next week for the Morgiana and the John Durkan and then Fairyhouse the following weekend. We don’t realise in Ireland the racing we have.”

A delighted Noel Moran added: “That was very good and he jumped very well. I think he’s back to his best and it was a good performance.

“He was always going to make a chaser. You always get a kick out of a winner, but to have one here at our local track makes it all the better, especially with the two-day festival here for the first time.

“It’s absolutely brilliant, we have a lot of friends and family here today and we’ll have a good night tonight!”

‘Deserved’ day in the sun for Coko Beach in Troytown

The likeable grey Coko Beach put in a neat round of jumping to land the Bar One Racing Troytown Handicap Chase for Danny Gilligan and Gordon Elliott – who had 14 of the 20 starters in the Navan feature.

The eight-year-old was always handy in the three-mile affair, with Gilligan’s 5lb claim easing the 11st 10lb burden he was required to carry off what was nearly a career-high mark of 153.

He ran a rhythmical race and met each fence well, easing into contention as the race developed and eventually staying on best of all to win by two and a quarter lengths from Gavin Cromwell’s 4-1 favourite Limerick Lace.

As a result he was introduced to the Grand National market at a price of 33-1 with Coral and cut to the same price from 50-1 with Betfair.

“He’s a great horse and we’re lucky to have him. He’s been knocking on the door in all those races, so he deserved to win one,” said Elliott.

“Jack (Kennedy) actually kind of wanted to ride him, but I wanted to claim off him and thank God I did. Danny is a great little rider and it’s a valuable 5lb.

“I thought it was a good race to watch. It was helter-skelter the whole way, they went a good gallop and all horses seemed to be home safe.

“He’s a bit of a boyo at home, he’s just a character. He had a good run in Limerick the last day.

“In the past he hasn’t been that strong of a finisher, he’s often faded out from the last home.

“We’ll probably head for a National with him, the Paddy Power would be a bit quick. He probably likes soft ground. He could also go for the Thyestes.

“He has schooled over cross-country and we won’t rule that out either.”

On running a huge team of horses, he added: “Thank God I won it anyway! We have to support these races, if I didn’t run in it there would only have been seven runners (at declaration time).

“It’s massively important for Navan racecourse, for the sponsors Bar One and for Irish racing that these races are full.

“I’ll support them and so will my owners. I don’t know if it’s the type of slow horses that I buy, but I seem to have a lot of them!”

Croke Park scores Monksfield victory for Elliott and Kennedy

Croke Park continued his progression with what was ultimately a clear-cut victory in the John Lynch Carpets & Flooring Monksfield Novice Hurdle at Navan.

In a race dominated by Gordon Elliott runners, the Clonmel maiden winner did have to be asked a question or two in setting about catching stablemate and long-time leader Mel Monroe between the last two flights.

He still had to work to get to Mel Monroe after the final obstacle, but did look like he would do so and in the end the 4-6 favourite was going away at the line to take Grade Three honours.

The gallant Mel Monroe was three and a quarter lengths back in second, with fellow Cullentra inmates Search For Glory and Pinyon Jay third and fourth respectively.

“He’s a lovely horse, Jack (Kennedy) said he probably wants three miles in time. He said he didn’t do a whole lot when he got there, but he did it well and jumped well,” said Elliott.

Navan Racing Festival – Day Two – Navan Racecourse
Croke Park at Navan (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We probably don’t have to go three miles yet. He’s a big horse and he’s had two runs now so I might even keep him for (the Grade One in) Naas. I don’t know if I’d be wanting to be going to the well too much. I think he is a nice horse.

“Mel Monroe is a nice mare and has improved an awful lot from Cheltenham. She was just about fit enough to go there and ran well. It looks like she came on again and it was a great run, a nice bit of black type for the boys.

“Search For Glory might come back here for the good handicap hurdle, the €100,000 race. Mel Monroe might come back for that as well, she could step up or drop back in trip.”

Kala Conti kicks off Irish career with Navan cruise

Gordon Elliott’s Kala Conti was an effortless winner at Navan on her Irish debut.

The filly is French-bred and won her sole start in her home nation by 10 lengths in May before changing hands.

Her Irish career began in the Bar One Racing “Price Boosts Across All Channels” 3-Y-O Hurdle, a race she was the 2-13 favourite in against just two rivals.

Under Jack Kennedy she made all the running and never saw another horse, easily navigating her way around the two-mile trip to cross the line at a canter 14 lengths ahead of stablemate Roboreti.

“She’s a nice filly. Jack said he could have gone around again, she would have done more at home,” said Elliott.

“I’d imagine we’ll probably look at the Graded race in Fairyhouse in two weeks’ time and she’ll have an entry at Newbury on the same weekend.

“The other horse was taking her on and you’re always waiting for something to go wrong in those races but it was pretty straightforward and she did it well.”

Brian Acheson’s Robcour colours did not have to wait long for another success with a smart prospect, as Look To The West took the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Maiden Hurdle for Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead.

Another making her debut under rules in Ireland, the five-year-old was the 9-4 joint-favourite and made the running before prevailing by a length.

“Delighted with that. She came well recommended for her point-to-point, but last year she was just a bit immature still and had a couple of little issues,” said De Bromhead.

“She’d been working really well and we thought she was nice.

“It’s not easy to make it around there and it looked a nice race. She hasn’t run for a long time so hopefully she’ll keep improving as well.

“She jumped a bit right but otherwise she was really good.

“We’ve got her started and now we can look at the next level. I’d say she’ll get further, but she looked good over that trip. She gallops and jumps.

“Maybe something like the Solerina, but we’ll see what everyone wants to do and enjoy today.”

Elliott enjoys another fruitful day at Navan

What’s Up Darling edged out his Gordon Elliott-trained stablemate Dee Capo in a stirring finish to the Bar One Racing For Auction Novice Hurdle at Navan.

On another winner-laden day for the stable, it was the Sam Ewing-ridden six-year-old, who took a big step forward from his hurdling debut at Limerick, who came out on top.

Jack Kennedy was on the hat-trick-seeking Dee Capo, but went down by a neck having shown the odd wayward tendency.

Elliott said of the 15-8 winner: “He’s a quick horse. He probably got racing a bit early but he won, so it’s great.

Jockey Sam Ewing, with trainer Gordon Elliott and What's Up Darling
Jockey Sam Ewing, with trainer Gordon Elliott and What’s Up Darling (Damien Eagers/PA)

“The other horse (Dee Capo) ran a serious race, Jack said he tried to hang off the track on the far side. He probably gave away a lot of lengths.

“Jack said he thought he was going to pull him up but when he straightened out, he sprinted again. I had the one-two, so I won’t complain.”

When asked if the winner could go for the Royal Bond, the trainer added: “To be honest, it might come a bit quick.”

Kennedy was on Elliott’s Stellar Story (4-7 favourite) in the Kilberry Pub & Kitchen Maiden Hurdle, who added to his two bumper wins.

Stellar Story clears the last flight
Stellar Story clears the last flight (Damien Eagers/PA)

“He’s a nice horse. Jack said he’d come on from it too, as he had a bit of a blow,” said Elliott.

“I was a bit worried in the back straight when the other horse was going with us but he said he’d come on plenty from it and we’re delighted.

“He was bought to be a big staying chaser.”

Fortunedefortunata (100-30 favourite) was another for Elliott and Kennedy in the Hotel Park St. Johann In Tirol Austria Handicap Hurdle.

“They (owners, Breakaway’s Syndicate) are all lads that I went to school with, so it’s great,” said Elliott.

Jockey Jack Kennedy with winning connections after Fortunedefortunata won
Jockey Jack Kennedy with winning connections after Fortunedefortunata won (Damien Eagers/PA)

“We didn’t give a fortune (£16,000) for him and today was the plan, thankfully it worked out for him.

“He loves really heavy ground. He probably wouldn’t take a lot of running quickly.”

Eddie and Patrick Harty’s Harvard Guy (7-1) won the Lisadell Equine Hospital Handicap Hurdle in the JP McManus colours.

“It was nice. I thought he might have a squeak based on his run at Fairyhouse,” said Eddie Harty.

“He was all out to do it and we’ll have to look for something similar. I’m delighted to be back on the scoresheet for JP.

“I think it’s Patrick’s first time on the board for JP since being on the licence, so it’s important for him as well.”

Elliott was narrowly denied a four-timer when My Trump Card got going too late in the concluding bumper and narrowly failed to reel in Gavin Cromwell’s Springt De La Mare (5-2), with Apple’s Of Bresil not far away in third.

The first three all look to have big futures.

Facile Vega gets chasing career off to fine start

Facile Vega made a winning debut over fences in what looked a red-hot Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase at Navan.

Willie Mullins’ six-year-old, the second foal of his great hurdler Quevega, is already a four-time Grade One winner due to his exploits in bumpers and over hurdles.

The champion trainer has been waxing lyrical about Facile Vega’s schooling at home and while he was ultimately sound over his fences, there was the odd novicey leap during his round, understandably for a first run over bigger obstacles.

One of the Gordon Elliott pair, Saint Felicien, not sighted since being sent off favourite for the Coral Cup in 2022, ensured there was a good gallop and Paul Townend was happy to take a lead.

Facile Vega clears the last in style
Facile Vega clears the last in style (Damien Eagers/PA)

Townend was tracked throughout by Rachael Blackmore on Henry de Bromhead’s Inthepocket, himself a Grade One winner over timber at Aintree in April.

Grade Two winner Dreal Deal and Spillane’s Tower, a useful hurdler himself, added further strength in depth but they were just out of contention running to the second last.

It was there 8-15 favourite Facile Vega took up the running from a tiring Saint Felicien and while Inthepocket attempted to close up, the market leader had plenty left as he cleared away from the last to win by three and three-quarter lengths.

Coral make the winner 3-1 second favourite for the Arkle behind Marine Nationale, who lowered his colours at Cheltenham in March.

“He galloped into the first, he just wasn’t really concentrating. It was a messy race to ride in, Jack’s (Kennedy, Saint Felicien) was going left. We would have liked to have a bit more company or to follow one,” said Townend.

“He popped away grand and when we started racing down the straight, I loved what he did at the second last, he stood off it and landed a big distance on the far side of it.

“He was clever at the last, the first day went well anyway. His class kicked in down the straight.

“All of ours are coming on for a run. To win, doing that, I thought was good. When I did ask him, he stood off for me and that’s what you’d be expecting him to do.

“Throughout the race, he was actually very well behaved for him. I’d say he’s maturing and growing up because he had every opportunity to start acting the fool a bit but he didn’t and was more professional. When I wanted him, he was there.

“He’s matured physically and mentally.”

Graded double for De Bromhead and Blackmore at Navan

Bob Olinger and Captain Guinness returned to winning ways to provide Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore with a Graded race double at Navan.

Lismullen Hurdle winner Bob Olinger was victorious for the first time since the Cheltenham Festival of March 2022, when the beneficiary of the late fall of Galopin Des Champs, and had struggled to hit the heights that once looked likely as a novice hurdler.

Having travelled supremely well for Blackmore when still hard on the bridle on the run to the last between Home By The Lee and Zanahiyr, it briefly looked like he would flatter to deceive once again.

When Blackmore initially asked him to quicken, the response was not immediate and Zanahiyr went on, but eventually Bob Olinger (15-8) did begin to find for pressure and ultimately was a good winner.

He went on to win by a length from the 5-4 favourite, with Home By The Lee, giving 9lb to all, a creditable third in trying to replicate last year’s win.

“I’m delighted. You know where we hold him, he’s one of the best horses I’ve ever trained,” said De Bromhead.

“Last year was tough but it’s lovely to see him back. He was brilliant and Rachael was super on him, she gave him a brilliant ride.

“There are a lot of people to thank but I have to mention Robert Power and Brian (Acheson).

“We stopped with him last January and Robbie has done a lot of work with him during the summer and into this season.

“He came down to us looking amazing. There are a lot of people to thank, the team at home, but Robbie stands out for all the work he’s done with him.

Rachael Blackmore was delighted with Bob Olinger
Rachael Blackmore was delighted with Bob Olinger (Damien Eagers/PA)

“We better ask him what he was doing and start doing it with all of them!

“He stayed at it really well. The way he burst through and then I thought ‘oh no, it’s the same as last year’ when Zanahiyr came back at him.

“I thought we were in trouble there, obviously Zanahiyr picked up and we were a bit slow at the last.

“It was lovely to see, he’s a real good horse and it’s nice to see him hopefully starting to come back.

“It was a tough race, his first run since January.”

When asked about plans, he added: “I don’t know, we’ll enjoy today. We’ve no plans and I wouldn’t like to say anything yet. Today was the day, we needed to see him back first.

“If you saw him at home, I don’t think any trip is a problem when he’s right, he has so much pace. At least we can think about the next step now.

“Nothing is set in stone (regarding hurdling or chasing). I don’t really want to say anything until we’ve all debriefed. A lot of work went into today and it’s just lovely to see him back.”

Captain Guinness repeated his victory in the Bar One Fortria Chase, again beating last year’s runner-up Riviere D’etel, this time by seven lengths.

Dysart Dynamo was the 4-5 favourite but he found disappointingly little for Paul Townend in the straight and Blackmore always looked to have him covered.

Betfair cut the winner to 6-1 from 8s for the Tingle Creek next month.

Captain Guinness clears the last with aplomb
Captain Guinness clears the last with aplomb (Damien Eagers/PA)

“I’m delighted with that, he jumped brilliant,” said de Bromhead.

“Rachael was brilliant on him again. I thought that was one of his best performances that I’ve seen for a while. I loved the way he picked up to the line, he was brilliant.

“At every fence, he went in four behind and landed two behind, he was so good. There was one halfway down the back that he winged and I don’t think that Rachael even expected it.

“I entered him in the Tingle Creek and I’ll speak to Declan (Landy, owner) and see. It’s three weeks so potentially he could go there. We’ll definitely consider it or otherwise it’s Leopardstown at Christmas.

“I always thought he was better on better ground but he loved that there. In the Champion Chase, I said to Declan that we’d run him but he probably wouldn’t like the ground, but he loved it.”

Elliott mob-handed in Troytown

It will be a major shock if Gordon Elliott does not win the Bar One Racing Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan on Sunday, as he fields 15 of the 21 remaining runners.

Elliott is gunning for a sixth win since 2014 in what is traditionally one of the hottest handicap chases of the season in Ireland.

The Cullentra handler makes no secret of the fact he loves winning the feature race at his local track, and this year he is going all out.

Elliott will have to be at his diplomatic best with six different sets of owners to keep happy and he might do well to spare a thought for the commentator, with Gigginstown House Stud fielding nine runners – following the defection of Noel Meade’s Idas Boy.

Stable jockey Jack Kennedy has chosen to ride 2021 winner Run Wild Fred, with Sam Ewing on Hollow Games and Ricky Doyle on Gevrey looking three of his stronger chances.

The only other trainers involved are Meade with Thedevilscoachman, Henry de Bromhead with Ain’t That A Shame, Watch House Cross and Largy Debut, Colm Murphy with Macs Charm and Gavin Cromwell, who is represented by Limerick Lace.

“It’s a competitive race and we have lots of chances, so hopefully one hits the board,” said Elliott.

“It’s a 100,000 euros race and it’s a big staying race.

“You would have to say Hollow Games and Run Wild Fred look the best two and Dunboyne would have a chance.

“Hopefully, one of them will hit the board.”

Denis O’Regan calls time on historic career

Denis O’Regan, who recently completed the full set of riding a winner at all UK and Irish National Hunt tracks, announced his retirement at Navan on Saturday.

A multiple Grade One-winning rider, he perhaps will be best remembered for his successful if relatively brief link-up with trainer Howard Johnson and owner Graham Wylie in the north of England.

During their association, O’Regan won the 2008 World (now Stayers’) Hurdle on Inglis Drever and in the same week landed the Arkle on Tidal Bay.

He won a Becher Chase at Aintree on the Dessie Hughes-trained Black Apalachi, who went on to be second to Don’t Push It in the 2010 Grand National won by Tony McCoy.

Denis O’Regan with Inglis Drever
Denis O’Regan with Inglis Drever (David Davies/PA)

Cape Tribulation won at both the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals in 2012 for O’Regan and Malcolm Jefferson, and a year later the same horse won the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.

O’Regan also won a Fighting Fifth on Countrywide Flame, a Finale Hurdle on Ruacana and a Galway Hurdle on Quick Jack.

Having learned the ropes at Noel Meade’s yard as understudy to Paul Carberry, it is no surprise O’Regan was renowned for his quiet style in the saddle and in recent years had been used by Gordon Elliott.

His recent victory at Hereford, the only course to have previously eluded him, came for trainer Cian Collins on Fiveonefive, so it was fitting he brought the curtain down on his career on Collins’ Solly Attwell, who finished unplaced.

Denis O’Regan on Cape Tribulation after victory at the Cheltenham Festival
Denis O’Regan on Cape Tribulation after victory at the Cheltenham Festival (David Davies/PA)

O’Regan said: “I’m delighted with the decision. It was a huge effort to get back for Hereford after such a long stint off and I’m 41 and have had a fair few falls.

“It was not simple now to come to the decision but I went to Gowran last Saturday and I knew then after that. I knew going home that was it and I had to stop now.

“You need goals and when Hereford was done, it’s hard to find another one – unless you’ve got a good horse, and I don’t have six or seven Grade One horses, so I thought it was a good time.

“It’s the local track for me here, I’ve been very lucky here, my wife and my kids are here, there’s a lot of support and I wanted to go out on one of Cian’s. It didn’t have to be a winner and I’m delighted with that.”

Townend excited to get Facile Vega going over fences

Navan’s new two-day Festival has attracted some real equine stars – with champion jockey Paul Townend especially excited about teaming up with Facile Vega in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase on Saturday.

Always highly thought of as just the second foal out of Willie Mullins’ champion mare Quevega, he won the Cheltenham Festival bumper in 2022.

Having landed a Grade One on just his second outing over hurdles last season, Facile Vega ran inexplicably badly at the Dublin Racing Festival and, despite returning to something like his best at Cheltenham, had no answer to Marine Nationale in the Supreme in March.

While he enjoyed a stroll at Punchestown to end on a winning note, he has always had the size and scope of a chaser.

“Facile Vega was a star novice hurdler last season. He’s one we’re really looking forward to getting going over fences and he’s one that could even improve for fences,” Townend told Navan Racecourse.

Facile Vega was an easy winner at the Punchestown Festival
Facile Vega was an easy winner at the Punchestown Festival (Niall Carson/PA)

“His schooling has been really good and we’re looking forward to getting him out on the track.

“He has the size and scope to develop into a better chaser, his mother got better with age and he did really well through the summer. Without putting the mockers on him, I like the way he’s taken to fences at home.

“Navan is a good, big, fair track with an inviting fence, it’s one of the tracks we are blessed to have on our doorstep in Ireland.”

It is far from a penalty kick, however, with Henry de Bromhead’s Inthepocket, also a Grade One-winning hurdler, and the Gordon Elliott pair of Saint Felicien and Sa Fureur, who have been favourites for the Coral Cup for the past two seasons.

Dysart Dynamo runs in the Fortria Chase
Dysart Dynamo runs in the Fortria Chase (David Davies/PA)

Townend also rides Dysart Dynamo, who steps out of novice company in the Bar One Fortria Chase

“The conditions suit Dysart Dynamo. He ran into El Fabiolo a couple of times but without him around he’d have had a tremendous season. It looks a nice place to start him off, with the conditions suiting,” said Townend.

Captain Guinness, Saint Roi, Now Where Or When and Riviere D’etel complete the field.

Last year’s winner Home By The Lee and Stayers’ Hurdle victor Sire Du Berlais look to put down an early marker in the Railway Bar Lismullen Hurdle.

Home By The Lee will be joined by his Joseph O’Brien-trained stablemate Busselton.

“He’s done great (over the summer) and I’m looking forward to getting him started for the season,” O’Brien said of Home By The Lee.

“I suppose he will go down the staying hurdle route and we’re looking forward to the year ahead.

“The plan was always he would have an extended break and he is starting back a bit later than last year, but we’re not too worried about that and we’re looking forward to getting him back on track.

“Leopardstown (at Christmas) is probably his big target for the first half of the season.”

On Busselton, he added: “He also had a pretty busy campaign last year and had a nice holiday during the summer.

“This is a nice starting point for him, even though his best runs have come over a bit further than this.”

Bob Olinger and Zanahiyr will also have plenty of followers in an open race.

Incredibly, Gordon Elliott has declared 15 of the 22 runners in the Bar One Racing Troytown Handicap Chase on Sunday, albeit Thedevilscoachman heads the market for Noel Meade.

Euphoric makes successful debut in Navan maiden

Aidan O’Brien’s Euphoric made a winning start to his career with a narrow success on his debut at Navan.

The Frankel two-year-old is out a Pivotal mare named Blue Waltz and fetched 1,900,000 guineas as a yearling when sold via Tattersalls this time last year.

The NavanRacecourse.ie Maiden was the colt’s first racecourse outing and under Seamie Heffernan he was the 15-8 favourite for the one-mile contest.

Victory did not always look a foregone conclusion as two furlongs from home the bay was in the middle of the field of 12 runners with Ger Lyons’ Rocking Tree leading the way.

The O’Brien youngster was continually gaining ground, however, and in the final strides just edged into the lead to defeat Rocking Tree by a short head on the line.

“He’s babyish, but he’s off to a good start. It’s hard for any of our horses to win first time out. The ones who do usually progress into Group horses so hopefully he will too,” said Heffernan.

“I wanted to get him organised, get him balanced and then get him going and see what was there. I’m happy he won.

“He’s well bred and his heart is in the right place, so hopefully he keeps on improving.”

Chris Armstrong, O’Brien’s stable representative, added: “He was just ready to start and he’s a lovely colt to look forward to.

“He’s still a bit of a baby, it was great to get him out at this time of year and he’s one to look forward to for next year.

“He’ll be a lovely mile-and-a-quarter, middle-distance horse. It’s grand to get him started, one run into him at least at two, and we’ll see how he progresses between now and the end of the year.

“He has still a bit to go mentally and physically.”

Francis Meynell in line for Doncaster following sparkling debut

Francis Meynell could be immediately upped in grade at Doncaster’s St Leger Festival having made a successful introduction at Navan.

Michael O’Callaghan’s speedily-bred Blue Point youngster cost 125,000 guineas at the breeze-up sales earlier in the year and went some way to justifying that price-tag with a taking display in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.

Sent immediately to the front by Leigh Roche, he barely saw another rival as he defied inexperience to produce an ultra-professional performance and register a running-on three-quarters of a length success at 8-1.

His trainer was suitably impressed and is now eyeing a trip to Town Moor on September 15 for the Carlsberg Danish Pilsner Stakes, the Group Two contest most commonly known as the Flying Childers.

“He’s a horse I’ve taken my time with. He’s quite enthusiastic at home so we went back to basics with him and we’ve slowly let him get himself ready for this,” said O’Callaghan.

“He’s going to improve plenty. It’s more so his mind that made him look so professional today, but I think he’ll improve a lot from what he’s done at home.

“It looked like a good race on paper beforehand and Leigh said he thought that he was only in second gear.

“I thought if he was able to win his maiden today and he looked nice that I might pitch him into something like the Flying Childers.

“He’s quick, he’d get six furlongs I’d say, but he has a lot of speed and there is no point trying to tame it.

“I not trying to talk him up but I honestly don’t know where the bottom of him is.”

Earlier on the card Aidan O’Brien’s Pop Star (100-30) highlighted his potential when downing 1-3 favourite Yosemite Valley to shed his maiden tag at the third time of asking.

Off the track since finishing second at Navan just over a year ago, the son of Sioux Nation showed plenty of pace to make up for lost time and potentially earn a shot at something bigger and better next time.

“We thought a bit of him last year and he got a setback, he’s missed a lot of time off the track,” said winning rider Seamie Heffernan.

“Pat Martin trained the mother, she was very genuine and she won a heap of races.

“In the last 20 yards was quite green but I was more than happy with him.

“He’s quick, five or six furlongs. If he gets seven furlongs, he’s definitely a stakes horse.”

Also on course for a sterner test in his next outing is Michael Mulvaney’s Bid For Chester (7-2) who thrived dropping back in trip to break his duck at the fifth attempt in the Navan Racecourse Nursery Handicap.

“He fired a warning shot the other day and Chris came in a said he was a bit green when he went for him,” said Mulvany.

“When he came through them today the hill suited him.

“Hopefully now he’ll go to the sales race, the Goffs Sportman’s Challenge in Naas on September 14th. That was the plan all year.”

Pearls And Rubies books Royal Ascot ticket with smart Navan win

Pearls And Rubies will head to Royal Ascot as an exciting proposition for Aidan O’Brien following a very promising debut success at Navan.

An imposing daughter of No Nay Never, Ryan Moore let her find her feet in the five-furlong Lynn Lodge Stud Irish EBF Maiden, as up front Lightening Army took them along.

Keeping close tabs on the leaders was 6-5 favourite I Am Invictus, who looked like getting his head in front when leading over a furlong out, having filled the runner-up spot behind O’Brien’s Coventry Stakes-bound River Tiber first time out.

Plenty to smile about for connections of Pearls And Rubies
Plenty to smile about for connections of Pearls And Rubies (PA)

But Pearls And Rubies (3-1) started to find top gear late in the day, coming home really well to get the verdict by a neck from Michael O’Callaghan’s charge.

O’Brien said: “We thought she was very smart, we had it in our head could she be an Ascot filly.

“Obviously, she needed experience badly. We came here to see if she would be forward enough for Ascot. Ryan rode her accordingly and left her alone and educated her. She could be an Albany filly.

“She has won there and doesn’t even realise she has raced yet. She just kept coming and finished off very strong.

“She’s obviously a filly with plenty of class.”

Canute will be Ascot-bound
Canute will be Ascot-bound (PA)

There was a double on the card for O’Brien and Moore with Canute (10-11 favourote) in the Royal County Handicap.

O’Brien said: “He had a good run the last day. You have to be very happy with him.

“He’s improving and we might have a look at something in Ascot for him, maybe one of those three-year-old handicaps.

“I was asking Ryan if a mile or a mile and a quarter was his trip, and he said maybe a mile and a quarter. He’s not stuck to the ground, either.”

Cadeau Belle was a winner for Johnny Murtagh and Ben Cohen
Cadeau Belle was a winner for Johnny Murtagh and Ben Cohen (PA)

Cadeau Belle was a Listed winner for Johnny Murtagh when obliging in the Darley Irish EBF Kooyonga Stakes.

Murtagh – who confirmed Ladies Church on course for the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot – said of his Ben Cohen-ridden 9-1 winner: “She won a maiden nicely and Ben said he liked her and he doesn’t say it too often!

“Ben rode her work last week and thought she had improved. It was a very competitive Listed race today and I was hoping she could come on, she was a little bit unexposed, but that was a very good performance.

“I’m delighted for Tony Smurfit, he bought her after the last race. In fairness, he picked her out and said he liked the look of her. It is always nice when you sell one on and they go and improve.

“I think she is a nice filly in the making. We will have a look and see what is around Derby weekend. She deserves a step up into Group Three class now.”

Peking Opera performance sets up bigger and better things

Derby entrant Peking Opera picked up where he left off with a smart victory in the Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Yeats Stakes at Naas.

Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo colt ended his two-year-old season with a win in a one-mile Leopardstown maiden that has produced several subsequent winners.

Running for the first time this term he was the 5-2 favourite under Seamie Heffernan and duly went on to prove his stamina with a half-length triumph markedly up in trip to a mile and five furlongs.

Stable representative Chris Armstrong said: “The form of his Leopardstown race over a mile has worked out well.

“He has done well over the winter and is a horse that is going to stay very well.

“This was a lovely race to start him off in and he is one to look forward to going forward over a staying trip.

“He could be one for something like the Queen’s Vase over one mile and six furlongs at Ascot. You could bring him back a fraction to one mile and four furlongs

“He has good options and he did well to win on seasonal debut.”

When asked about the Derby entries, he replied: “He has (those entries) and it is an option for him. He is versatile between a mile and four furlongs and a mile and six.”

Jessica Harrington’s Givemethebeatboys struck on debut to land the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden under Shane Foley.

The Bungle Inthejungle colt was a 12-1 chance and raced in the group travelling down the centre of the track, eventually making up a huge amount of ground in the final furlong to prevail by three quarters of a length.

Foley said: “If he hadn’t run well today, we would have been scratching our heads a bit! We have had a few two-year-olds disappoint, so we are glad he did that.

“We took him out the last couple of times because of ground and I was adamant that I think he is a good horse, and good horses handle any ground. He’ll be better on better ground, he couldn’t really quicken in it (today).

“I thought the race was gone, but his class got him through.

“The pace was on the far side and he had to do a bit of running to get on top, but the good ones can get you out of trouble!”

When asked if he sees him as a Royal Ascot horse, he replied: “Definitely I’d say, and Con (Marnane, owner) likes Ascot.”