Arkle and Close House winners could clash at Navan on Sunday

Tue 5 Nov 2019

Navan could play host to a potentially-informative clash between two winning novices from last season's Cheltenham Festival, with A Plus Tard and Duc Des Genievres heading an 11-strong entry for the Grade 2 Fortria Chase on Sunday.

Successful in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, A Plus Tard could come up against Willie Mullins’ Arkle Chase winner Duc Des Genievres in the feature event on the first major raceday of the season at the County Meath venue.

A Plus Tard wins well at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival

De Bromhead has also entered Ordinary World, while a notably strong Mullins entry of four is completed by Grade 1 winners Douvan, Min and Great Field.

Douvan was unbeaten in his first 13 starts for Willie Mullins – a run that included back-to-back triumphs at the Cheltenham Festival in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Arkle Trophy.

However, he suffered injury and a shock defeat in the 2017 Queen Mother Champion Chase – and various problems have restricted him to just two competitive appearances since, most recently chasing home stablemate Un De Sceaux at the Punchestown Festival in April of last year.

Min – who like Douvan carries the colours of Rich and Susannah Ricci – won two Grade Ones last season, and was particularly impressive in the Melling Chase at Aintree in early April. He too found Un De Sceaux too strong in the Champion Chase at Punchestown at the end of April.

Last year’s Fortria Chase winner Ballyoisin, trained by Enda Bolger, also features among the possible starters.

Elsewhere on the card, bidding for a hat-trick of wins in the Lismullen Hurdle, Gordon Elliott’s star mare Apple’s Jade features among an entry of seven in the Grade 2 event.

 Apple's Jade and Jack Kennedy take the Lismullen Hurdle 12 months ago. Pic: Focus On Racing/ Healy Racing
Apple's Jade and Jack Kennedy take the Lismullen Hurdle 12 months ago. Pic: Focus On Racing/ Healy Racing

The seven-year-old has used this race as a springboard for subsequent Grade 1 success in each of the last two seasons and could line up against the Willie Mullins-trained Bacardys, runner-up to Unowhatimeanharry on his last start in the Grade 1 Champion Stayers Hurdle at the Punchestown festival.

Also entered is the Joseph O'Brien-trained Rhinestone, who went close to a top-level success of his own in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in February, and Jessica Harrington’s Magic Of Light, last seen chasing home Tiger Roll in the Grand National at Aintree in April.

The first of the feature races on Sunday is the Grade 3 For Auction Novice Hurdle and the exciting Abacadabras, trained by Gordon Elliott, could bid to add to his recent maiden hurdle success at Gowran Park.

Fast Buck is a two-time hurdles winner for Willie Mullins while the Paul Nolan-trained Latest Exhibition and Gordon Elliott’s Mount Ida add to the competition.

Navan Racecourse Manager, Peter Killeen, said: “We are heading into what is a really busy National Hunt season at Navan kicking off with our Tote Fortria Chase Day on Sunday where it’s guaranteed that there will be the reappearance of some of the top horses.

"It’s fantastic to see Enda Bolger’s Ballyoisin entered in the Grade 2 feature after winning it last year and also to see Gordon Elliot’s star mare Apple’s Jade entered for the Lismullen Hurdle, a race that she has won for the past two years.”

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