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Mullins has three hat-trick hopes

By Martin Kelly

Last season's Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill is one of seven remaining entries in what could prove a top-class renewal of the Navan Novice Hurdle on Sunday.

In its relatively short history the Grade One event has been won by some seriously good prospects including Solerina, Newmill, Aran Concerto, Mikael D'Haguenet and 12 months ago by Pont Alexandre.

Willie Mullins is going for his third successive win in the race, Boston Bob preceding Pont Alexandre, and the champion trainer is well represented.

Briar Hill won his only race over hurdles to date at Wexford, while Mullins' other possibles, Moyle Park and Valseur Lido, also both won their only previous experience over obstacles.

Noel Meade has impressive Monksfield Novice Hurdle winner Apache Stronghold and Very Wood.

Meade said of Apache Stronghold: "All going well, he'll run on Sunday and we are looking forward to it.

"It (Monksfield Hurdle) looked a good race beforehand, but he made it look very easy.

"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.

"I don't know what Willie (Mullins) is going to produce and he has so many to choose from, but if we get our horse there well, we'll be happy."

Eoin Griffin's Azorian was second in the Monksfield and needs to make up three lengths.

The trainer said: "The plan is to run, but ideally I would like to see a drop of rain beforehand.

"I was happy enough with his run the last day and he ran around a bit in front and was still green, but I think he has improved since the last day and as matters stand, he'll go to Navan on Sunday.

"He is a horse that I have always liked and I suppose we will learn a bit more about him after the weekend."

Meanwhile, a first try over a mile can bring about the required improvement in Elusive Ice at Dundalk tonight.

Eddie Lynam's three-year-old has run well in defeat when second on her previous two outings over shorter at the Louth facility, simply proving one-paced over six furlongs behind Cottrell at the end of November.

On her track bow all of 12 months earlier, she just got chinned on the line by the smart Queen Of The Sand over seven furlongs.

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