Invitation Only can continue Willie Mullins’s hot streak at Navan

Asthuria should be difficult to beat in Sunday’s Listed feature at Thurles

Politologue ridden by Sam Triston-Davies won  the Mitie Noel Novices’ Steeplechase at Ascot. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

Politologue ridden by Sam Triston-Davies won the Mitie Noel Novices’ Steeplechase at Ascot. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

 

The upcoming Christmas action will provide significant clues to Willie Mullins’s chances of overhauling Gordon Elliott in the trainer’s championship.

But before that Sunday’s Navan action could provide further evidence as to how quickly things can turn around.

Elliott’s resounding 41,276-1 six-timer at Navan’s Troytown day provoked perhaps hasty claims that Mullins’s decade long reign as champion is under real threat, a view that Elliott himself tried to dismiss, but to limited effect.

With 27 runners at that meeting, and a dozen in the Troytown itself, Elliott’s dominance was stark, stretching his lead in the championship to over €500,000, and he is again numerically dominant again on Sunday with 13 runners at Navan, and 24 over the weekend in total.

But in the three weeks since there has been ominous evidence of the Mullins behemoth cranking into top-gear.

After his Sunday six-timer last weekend, Mullins has cut the gap to under €400,000 and looks to have the ammunition to make this Navan card anything but a solo-show.

Elliott has three of the seven in the Grade Two Novice Hurdle but the apparent No 1 Death Duty, has to concede a 3lb penalty for his For Auction victory here three weeks ago and even at levels he would face a task against the Mullins hope, Invitation Only.

Winning debut

This one made his expected winning debut over flights at Gowran but the style of the victory was impressive and he can provide his trainer with a fifth win in the last six years of this race.

Noel Meade has his own chance in the Grade Two with Moulin A Vent although the local trainer’s best chances could come in maiden hurdles with Stoneford and also Joey Sasa who goes in the opener having also appeared here three weeks ago behind Brelade.

Navan’s most valuable prize is the €50,000 Tara Handicap Hurdle and it looks significant that Gurteen is taking a chance in his first handicap off a mark of 133 following a very promising effort behind Anibale Fly over fences on his first start of the season.

The famous Hurricane Fly colours are likely to centre-stage for Sunday’s Listed feature at Thurles.

Asthuria drops back to the minimum trip after her maiden victory last month but this is a mare capable of being placed in a Grade One behind Jer’s Girl on her first start for the Mullins team last Easter.

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