Footpad among a galaxy of stars who could light up Naas and Navan
Winter is coming. The rain has arrived, the ground is easing and a whole host of top-class jumpers are ready to be unleashed in Ireland this weekend judging by those entered at Naas and Navan, the brightest of which is Racing Post Arkle winner Footpad who holds an engagement at both venues.
Last week Willie Mullins revealed the King George was on his radar for Footpad but that last year's unbeaten novice chaser would return over two miles, and he has stuck to his word by entering him in the Grade 3 Poplar Square Chase at Naas and the Grade 2 thetote.com Fortria Chase at Navan.
Also entered in both those contests is the Harry Whittington-trained Saint Calvados, who was only 11-4 to beat Footpad in last year's Arkle but folded tamely into fourth having gone off at a blistering pace with Petit Mouchoir.
"Our main target was to run in the Haldon Gold Cup but we didn’t get any rain so we had to look elsewhere," said Alice Whittington, wife and assistant to the trainer.
She added: "We had a look at the Poplar Square Chase when it reopened for entries. It's a race for second-season novices and that’s not a type of race we have a lot of in England. It could be a good starting point.
"We've also put him in at Navan and we’ll see how the races are shaping up. Thankfully there is rain forecast for later in the week, so we’ll be making every plan to travel and see what happens."
The other eyecatching entry in the Fortria Chase at Navan on Sunday is Great Field, the trailblazer who is unbeaten over fences having won all five starts for Willie Mullins and rider Jody McGarvey.
Farclas set for hurdle return
Last year's Triumph Hurdle winner Farclas could return to action in the Grade 3 Fishery Lane Hurdle at Naas, where there is likely to be a Mullins battalion waiting for him as Ireland's champion trainer has entered Mr Adjudicator, Saldier and Stormy Ireland.
Another interesting inclusion is Gavin Cromwell’s Grade 2 winner Espoir D’Allen, who has not been seen since February.
Cromwell said: "Espoir D’Allen seems to be in good nick and has summered well. I'd be hopeful of a big run.
"It's shaping up to be a very hot race but we’ll know where we stand after Saturday. The trip and ground look perfect for him."
Apple's Jade holds an entry in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan, while another sumptuous Sunday showdown could be the clash of Quick Grabim and Felix Desjy in the Grade 3 For Auction Novice Hurdle.
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