Elliott seeking a remarkable five-in-a-row in Troytown Chase
Willie Mullins’s Pairofbrowneyes tops the ante-post betting lists for the Navan feature
Gordon Elliott: has had a Troytown stranglehold in recent years winning with Balbriggan, Riverside City, Empire Of Dirt and last year with Mala Beach. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
After 37 horses were left in the prestigious €100,000 handicap at Tuesday’s forfeit stage, bookmakers didn’t hesitate to install the Mullins-trained Pairofbrowneyes at the top of ante-post betting lists.
Pairofbrowneyes started favourite for last Easter’s Irish Grand National but crashed out at the fifth fence.
Another of Mullins’s three entries, Minella Beau, is also towards the top of the betting for a race the champion trainer last won in 2009 with Beroni.
In contrast Elliott has had a Troytown stranglehold in recent years winning with Balbriggan, Riverside City, Empire Of Dirt and last year with Mala Beach.
Two years ago he ran a massive team of 11 horses in the race and has 14 left to pick from this time, including last season’s surprise Irish National winner, General Principle.
He was immediately installed a 12-1 shot by the big race sponsor. However it is Elliott’s recent Cork National winner Out Sam who is rated the trainer’s best chance by most layers.
Ground conditions at Navan are currently “good” but there’s up to 20mms of rain forecast over the coming couple of days.
That will be welcome news for Tom Mullins who is pointing another ‘National’ winner at the race.
His contender Spider Web landed the Munster National at Limerick last month and is 8lbs higher in the ratings for that valuable success.
“He’s come out of it very well. The one concern I would have is that it wouldn’t be too fast. I hope a little bit of rain comes to make it nice,” said Mullins who is aware of the scale of the challenge against both his older brother and Elliott.
Mullins has pointed to the difficulties of competing against the top five or six trainers in the country before and said: “It is very important for a yard like my own to have some big race to pitch at.”
Co Carlow based Willie Murphy is another trainer hoping to take on the big guns with his Troytown hope Velocity Boy.
Like Minella Beau, he too crashed out at the third last in the Cork National behind Out Sam.
“He was just unlucky but they are there to be jumped. God willing he will go to Navan provided we get a drop of rain. I don’t think I’d run him on the present ground. If we got yielding ground I’d love to run him,” Murphy said.
“He is just back in good form now. Last year didn’t go hectic for him but he is back where you’d like him now,” he added before nominating the Welsh National next month as a potential longer-term option.