Navan's Troytown meeting is the pick of the action on Sunday and the Racing Post’s Robbie Wilders returns with his three best bets.
Top-class bumper performer American Mike already heads the betting for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and impressed with a comfortable success on his hurdling debut at Down Royal this month.
He will doubtless be a short price to add another victory to his enviable CV in the Grade 3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle (1.20).
However, I’ll be taking him on each-way providing five runners stand their ground with his stablemate Three Card Brag.
This unexposed five-year-old put a decent bumper horse to the sword in Sandor Clegane on his hurdling debut in October before shaping as if requiring a greater test of stamina when a staying-on third in a Grade 3 over two miles here next time.
I reckon Three Card Brag is the best long-term prospect in that race. Major improvement is anticipated for an extra four furlongs on slower ground here and he looks a threat to American Mike.
Gordon Elliott is mob-handed with eight runners in the Troytown Handicap Chase (2.20) and I was initially drawn to Frontal Assault earlier in the week.
He comfortably accounted for a subsequent Grade 2 scorer on his return and stays all day, as he proved when second in the Irish Grand National last campaign.
However, his price is off-putting with Jack Kennedy aboard and School Boy Hours is the play each-way.
School Boy Hours simply needs to be fresh and his best performance on each of his last three seasons was first time out.
The 28-runner Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown on good to yielding ground he landed cosily on his comeback last campaign was a stronger race than this, and while he is rated 7lb higher now, there could be another big pot in him.
Mark Walsh choosing to ride him over owner JP McManus’s other form candidate A Wave Of The Sea is a positive.
My selection is versatile regarding underfoot conditions and recorded his two best performances on Racing Post Ratings on soft/heavy.
The 2m1f beginners’ chase (2.50) is an absolute cracker with Saint Roi setting a useful standard on his near top-class hurdling form.
Other names to note are Listed winner Slip Of The Tongue and Grade 2-winning juvenile Iberique Du Seuil, but the bet is another high-class four-year-old in Fil Dor.
This gelding requires little introduction as he attended all the major dances as a juvenile hurdler last season and is rated on a par with smart stablemate Pied Piper and the top-class Vauban.
We were never going to see the best of Fil Dor in two-mile hurdles and he has long shaped like a stayer, so his performance when keeping speedy Flat-bred hurdler Brazil honest at Naas this month was encouraging.
Fil Dor was conceding 9lb to the race-fit Brazil and without a bad mistake at the second-last might have even won.
He will require further than this in time but should relish going chasing and can cash in on an 8lb weight-for-age allowance with that promising run behind him.
Trainer Gordon Elliott made hay last campaign with Riviere D’Etel, another four-year-old in early-season novice chases, and similar fortunes await Fil Dor.