Trainer Dessie Hughes is concerned conditions at Navan will not be testing enough for last year’s winner Tofino Bay and Raz De Maree in tomorrow’s Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase.
Tofino Bay was a narrow winner of the prestigious contest 12 months ago and went on to run well in a number of top novice events, most notably in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
He was a faller on his return to action at Down Royal at the start of the month and although he is reported none the worse for that slip-up, his trainer would have preferred some rain.
Raz De Maree won both the Munster National and the Cork Grand National last season, but missed the majority of the campaign through injury and is due to make his first appearance in over a year.
Hughes said: “Both horses seem in good form, but we probably would have preferred the ground a little but softer.
“I think they’re calling it good to yielding at the moment, which isn’t ideal for either of our horses. We’d have preferred a drop of rain.
“Tofino Bay was fine after his fall in Down Royal and Raz De Maree is in good form as well. He just had a little niggly injury last season.
“They’re both well, but we might have to wait for their ideal conditions.”
Heading the weights for the €100,000 contest is the Ted Walsh-trained Colbert Station, the mount of Tony McCoy.
The nine-year-old was slightly disappointing over hurdles at Naas last month, but Walsh expects his charge to strip fitter for the run.
He said: “I thought he’d have run a bit better at Naas, but he probably needed it. The Troytown is the obvious place to go. He is not good enough for the better races and off 147, there aren’t many places to go with a horse like him.
“At nine years of age, I wouldn’t have thought that he’d improve a great deal. But if he maintains his form from last year and jumps around well he’ll win another race along the line. He is in good nick and Navan is a fine track.”
Trainer Jim Dreaper is hopeful of a bold show from Goonyella, who won at the Punchestown Festival in the spring and was a good second on his seasonal return at Galway last month.
Dreaper said: “He just a bit tired on his first run back at Galway, but he should come on for that. It is the bit after three miles that you’ll see the best of him, but Navan is a tough track and he’ll have his chance.
“Long term, he could be a Welsh, English or Irish National horse.
“Unfortunately I didn’t put the saddle on properly in the Irish National (last season) and it slipped. It was my fault but he came back to win well after that at Punchestown.
“He is not a top horse, but he is an honest stayer. It is early days for him and he seems to handle most types of ground. He really tries and regardless of their ability, when you have one that tries, you have a chance.”
Champion trainer Willie Mullins is represented by Sweet My Lord and Rockyaboya.
Of Sweet My Lord, he said: “He disappointed in the Kerry National but a few of mine were not quite
right around that time of Listowel, and maybe the ground was just too soft.
“The forecast is not too bad so the ground should be OK at Navan.”