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Great Field can make hay for Mullins in Navan showdown race

 

By Michael Verney

A possible tilt at last week's Cheltenham Champion Chase had been mooted a few months back for Great Field but instead Willie Mullins' exciting chaser makes his seasonal reappearance on a cracking Navan card today.

The bold front-runner, which will once again be partnered by Jody McGarvey, is unbeaten in four starts over fences - headlined by Grade One success at last year's Punchestown Festival when running his rivals ragged - and a similar display is expected in the Grade Two Toals.com Bookmakers Webster Cup (3.35).

Great Field has been likened in some quarters to stablemate Un De Sceaux but the JP McManus-owned seven-year-old will need to be foot-perfect once again as he returns from 330 days off at the Meath track.

Doctor Phoenix is a worthy foe, having scored on three occasions since joining Gordon Elliott for just over €10,000, and this has been the plan since taking a Grade Three at Naas last month when the re-opposing Alisier D'Irlande and American Tom were well beaten in behind.

It's hard to ignore the impression which Great Field left during his novice campaign, however, and while race fitness might not be up to scratch, he should still have enough in the tank.

An intriguing seven-race card also includes the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Chase Final (4.05) with in-form trainer Paul Nolan holding a great chance with Fitzhenry.

After a quiet spell, the Wexford handler has sent out two winners, three seconds, a third and two fourths in the past 14 days and his progressive novice can score in the €65,000 contest under Barry Geraghty.

Mullins and Elliott also hold leading claims in the Listed Irish Racing Writers Kingsfurze Novice Hurdle (3.00) with both double-handed, and the most likely winner may be the former's Nessun Dorma.

The 'Friday Night Lights' card at Dundalk dominates this evening and Curragh trainer Darren Bunyan can continue his fine form with Clebourne in the Windsor Bar Handicap (6.00).

Belfast Telegraph

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