Gordon Elliott was responsible for six of the seven winners at Navan this afternoon, which is a remarkable achievement. The Grand National winning trainer sent 25 horses to the track and his half dozen victories included the feature event Troytown Chase, courtesy of new recruit Empire of Dirt. A previous Cheltenham Festival winner for Colm Murphy, the gelding belied his mark of 148 to win the three miles event by four lengths. He jumped beautifully throughout and looks tailormade for the Grand National at Aintree next spring.
Death Duty was a useful bumper performer but the former pointer looks even better over hurdles collecting the Grade 3 Monksfield Novices' Hurdle by seven and a half lengths. He had impressed Ruby Walsh when scoring on his hurdles bow at Roscommon and took this step up in grade in his stride. The Shantou gelding will have no trouble staying three miles in time but it would be no surprise to see him back at this track next month for the Grade 1 Navan Novice Hurdle. He looks very smart and could be one for the Albert Bartlett NH in March.
Four of Gordon's winners were featured in One Jump Ahead - I have said it before but his interview has been a tremendous addition to the book. Brelade (11/1), Jury Duty (5/1) and Three Swallowsnick (13/8) were his other winners. The last named is one of Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers and she made it four out of four during her short career. The unbeaten daughter of Westerner had won on her Rules debut at Wexford and stayed on strongly here to grab the Listed mares' bumper which concluded the card. She will come into her own over two and a half miles plus over timber.
The only race on the card at Navan which Gordon Elliott didn't win was the two mile one beginners' chase. It has been won in recent seasons by Vautour and Douvan and the same connections landed the prize once again with chasing debutant Min by ten lengths. Runner-up in the Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle last spring, he jumped well and had his rivals in trouble a long way from home. The ex-French gelding is likely to be next seen at Leopardstown on St Stephen's Day in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase. He is likely to cross swords with Identity Thief there and it will be a mouth watering clash. He looks a natural chaser and I would expect him to be even better over fences. Whether he can turn the tables on Altior in the Arkle Trophy though is a different matter. With Min looking like being Willie Mullins' Arkle horse, does that mean Yorkhill will be JLT bound?
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