Davy Russell just three away from a century of winners this season
Thyestes winner Monbeg Notorious aims for Grade Two success at Navan
Davy Russell: the Cork jockey has 10 booked chances this weekend to improve on his impressive haul of 97 winners this season. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
Davy Russell needs only three more victories to secure a century of winners for the fourth time in his illustrious career.
The Cork jockey is all but certain to secure a third Irish jockeys’ title and has 10 booked chances this weekend to improve on his haul of 97 winners to date this season.
They include the Grade One winner Mick Jazz as well as the Cheltenham festival winners Presenting Percy and Mall Dini at Gowran on Saturday.
Russell also has promising material at Navan on Sunday including Diamond Cauchois in the featured Grade Two Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle. An easy course winner in December, Gordon Elliott’s runner was subsequently third in the Galmoy Hurdle.
He could face a tough task though against Bapaume who was hardly suited by the ordinary pace the Irish Champion Hurdle was run at. Prior to that his stamina looked to run out over three miles behind Apple’s Jade. This intermediate distance could be ideal.
The novice chase contender Robin Des Mana has an edge in experience over Drumconnor Lad which makes him one to look forward to for Russell.
The Ten Up Novice Chase is the card’s other Grade Two highlight and it provides the impressive Thyestes winner Monbeg Notorious with a good black-type opportunity.
Stamina is the Gigginstown runner’s forte and not surprisingly he already is a 14-1 shot for the four-mile National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham.
That Thyestes victory has resulted in a 13lb hike in official ratings to a mark of 150 which puts him ‘well-in’ with his stable companion Jury Duty.
Moulin A Vent overhauled Jury Duty in the closing stages at Naas last time to record an unlikely victory. His jumping for much of that race however was noticeably poor and significant improvement will be required to serve it up to Monbeg Notorious.
Qatar Racing’s high-class flat stayer Pallasator has a second start over flights in the Navan opener.
Fifth to Next Destination on his jumping debut, Pallasator has nothing of that calibre to take on here. However the nine year old’s Naas performance hardly set the world on fire considering his flat form. The good bumper performer The Holy One looks to have scope for improvement.
On testing ground, and getting weight from everything else, veteran performer de Benno could make a successful return to hurdling in the Opportunity event.
In other news, Douvan remains on course to line up at the Cheltenham festival despite missing out on an appearance at Gowran on Saturday.
Willie Mullins elected to skip a clash with Our Duke and Presenting Percy in the Red Mills Chase but the horse he has described as the best he’s trained is still being prepared for a fourth Cheltenham festival appearance in a row.
“Douvan is fine and we’ve decided to go straight to Cheltenham,” reported Mullins’s son, Patrick. “We just felt we could prepare him better at home.”
Douvan sustained a pelvic injury when beaten for the first time over fences as a 2-9 favourite in last year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase. In December he was ruled out for the rest of this season due to being intermittently lame but a month later returned to training.
Mullins’s star holds two festival entries and is a general 8-1 shot for the Ryanair Chase. However Mullins has indicated another tilt at the two-mile crown, and a likely clash with Altior, is his preferred option.
The Aintree National favourite Blacklion will have a final start before Liverpool in Saturday’s National Trial at Haydock.
“He’s flying and I think it makes sense to go to Haydock as there is a good space between that race and Aintree,” said his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.