Darasso can take advantage of Navan delay and ground conditions

Darver Star also likely to be in the shake up for Tuesday’s feature on rescheduled card

Cheltenham festival clues could emerge from Tuesday's rescheduled Navan card, although the biggest pointer of all may be indirectly through a win for Darasso in the Grade Two feature. JP McManus's stalwart had the thankless task of chasing home Teahupoo at Gowran on Saturday.

The latter's impressive display saw him cut to 8-1 for the Champion Hurdle in three weeks' time and his chances of dethroning Honeysuckle could get a quick form-boost in the BetVictor Boyne Hurdle.

Darasso had been declared to run in the race on Sunday so the cancellation due to waterlogging has given him an extra 48 hours to recover from his Gowran exertions. With only 4mm of rain anticipated overnight the meeting looks set to take place and Darasso boasts encouraging form on heavy ground throughout his career.

Whether he needs it so testing to be at his best is debatable on the back of more recent efforts which include a course and distance victory in the Lismullen in November. Luke Dempsey was on board then and was also on Darasso at the weekend as Mark Walsh secured Grade One success on Fakir d'Oudairies at Ascot.


Walsh has now opted for another of McManus’s three runners in the 14-strong field, Thedevilscoachman.

Like the Thyestes winner, Longhouse Poet, he is switching back to flights from fences, a move that has worked for another of Tuesday's leading contenders, Darver Star. He won by distance on New Year's Eve at Punchestown and was runner-up subsequently at Lingfield.

“He’s in good shape. I just hope the ground isn’t too soft. We had a terrible night’s rain so I really don’t know if the meeting will go ahead or not,” said locally-based trainer Gavin Cromwell.

Such unease underlines how much of a slog the race is likely to turn into which should play to Longhouse Poet’s strengths. The Grand National hope now boasts a 10lb higher rating over fences compared to his hurdles mark and can boast some high-class novice form over flights.

It is Ronald Pump who has a clear chance on official figures, but since his fine effort in the Hatton's Grace in November he has disappointed twice.

"He seems in good form now. He's been freshened up since Christmas. He never settled at all in Ascot and burnt himself out. Then, I suppose, Christmas in Leopardstown came too soon afterward.

"We didn't even enter him for Cheltenham but if things went well you could look at Aintree," reported his trainer Matthew Smith.

Darasso has no Cheltenham entries either but boasts an impressive record at Navan. As well as this season's Lismullen he won over fences in the 2019 Webster Cup and only a bad mistake at the second last ruined his chance in last year's Boyne.

Run Wild Fred, one of the favourites for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, is one of four Gigginstown Stud declarations for the six-runner Ten Up Novice Chase.

Very heavy going might be a problem for the Troytown winner though and his stable companion Farouk D’alene has Grade One form on it.

Willie Mullins gives his 250,000 Guineas purchase Madmansgame a first start in the bumper. Big money was splashed out on the well related grey after he landed a point-to-point in December.

He is up against a Gordon Elliott rival in Landrake, who was third to Madmansgame's stable companion Facile Vega on his debut.

Punchestown will have to pass a 7.30am inspection on Wednesday morning ahead of its scheduled card. Following 36mm of rain since entries, parts of the course were waterlogged on Monday.

The Grade Three Quevega Mares’ Hurdle is the Punchestown feature and is set to be the first race on an eight-race card at 1pm. Mullins has won the last five renewals of a race named after one of his most famous runners and the champion trainer has half of the six-strong field.

Paul Townend has opted for Burning Victory, third to Klassical Dream and Flooring Porter on her last start at Leopardstown over Christmas. She is declared to run in first-time cheek pieces. Elliott's Queen's Brook, third to Ferny Hollow in the 2020 Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, is also in the line-up.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column