Noel Meade hopeful more to come from Apache Stronghold

Star novice one of seven left in Sunday’s Navan Novice Hurdle

Trainer Noel Meade

Trainer Noel Meade


Apache Stronghold may have to circle the wagons against the big guns in Sunday’s Grade One Navan feature but trainer Noel Meade is hopeful there is still better to come from his star novice.

Winner last month of the Grade Two Monksfield Novice Hurdle over the same 2½ miles of this Sunday’s €70,000 Navan Novice Hurdle, Apache Stronghold is one of seven left in the feature after yesterday’s forfeit stage.

Apache Stronghold, however, could wind up facing some of the big battalions of the jump game with champion trainer Willie Mullins able to choose from a trio of Briar Hill, Moyle Park and Valseur Lido, while the latter is one of four Gigginstown Stud owned possibles.

Last season’s Cheltenham Bumper winner Briar Hill, currently only behind Faugheen in ante-post betting for the Neptune at Cheltenham in March, is owned by Graham Wylie while the in-form Rich Ricci has Moyle Park.

Do even better
The Gigginstown number one could be Azorian but he has three lengths to make up on Apache Stronghold from the Monksfield and Meade is hopeful his horse can do even better this time.

“He made it look very easy (in the Monksfield.) I thought on the day that he jumped well, but when I watched the race again, I thought he missed about four hurdles, which was a bit frustrating, as he can jump very well. If he can put in a complete round of jumping, I’d say he is obviously very good,” Meade said yesterday.

Azorian’s trainer Eoin Griffin is hoping for some rain. “He is a horse that I have always liked and I suppose we will learn a bit more about him after the weekend.”