Mullins bidding for Irish Cesarewitch hat-trick
Irish Cesarewitch (Premier Handicap) | 2m | 3yo+ | ATR
Navan is a temporary home for this long-established, late-season event for the first time due to the redevelopment of the Curragh.
And following his wins with Digeanta in 2015 and Laws Of Spin a year ago, Willie Mullins will be bidding for a hat-trick of victories in the race when he saddles Gustavus Vassa, who will be having his first run for the trainer, with last year's successful rider Chris Hayes on board.
Stamina to prove
Having only raced three times Gustavus Vassa is the most lightly-raced of the 29 runners. Formerly trained by Andy Oliver, the three-year-old won a maiden at Down Royal in June and will be racing beyond one mile and two and a half furlongs for the first time.
"Gustavus Vassa works well but it will be a big ask for an inexperienced horse going two miles for the first time on testing ground," Mullins said.
Ellison chasing second win
Ireland has been a happy hunting ground for Brian Ellison who trained the most recent British winner of this event four years ago when Montefeltro was successful.
Represented today by Nietzsche, Ellison said: "It's a competitive race but he's been in good form since his run at Doncaster where he was coming back from a break. It will be Cheltenham next for him – he'll be going for the Greatwood."
Hurdles experience could be key
Victory for Noel Meade at his home track would mean a lot and he is represented by the versatile Snow Falcon, a four-time winner over hurdles at the course, twice at Grade 2 level.
The mount of title-chasing Colin Keane, who won on the seven- year -old at Killarney in August when making all over 1m6f.
Meade said: "I couldn't be happier with him. The trip and the track suit and the ground shouldn't be a problem. The worry is the hike he got in the ratings for his Killarney win."
Donnacha O'Brien, who won the race as a 16-year-old on El Salvador, partners Bhutan – who has raced only twice on the Flat – for his brother Joseph.
The JP McManus-owned four-year-old, who won a maiden for Aidan O'Brien last season, will be making his handicap debut and his trainer, who is also represented by Felix Mendelssohn and Mr Everest, said on Saturday: "Bhutan has been in good form since Killarney. We think the trip will suit and he has an each-way chance.
"Mr Everest disappointed on very bad ground at Listowel and we're hoping for better while Felix Mendelssohn is very hit and miss and you're never sure what you'll get."
What they say
Harry Rogers, trainer of Benkei and Lord Erskine
Both of them are in good form. Benkei gets the trip well but has a lot of weight. Lord Erskine has a nice low weight and I think he'll stay the trip. Hopefully, he might finish in the money.
Pat Fahy, trainer of Western Boy
He's in good form. We know he gets the trip on better ground, so we'll have to see how he fares over it on testing ground.
Jarlath Fahey, trainer of Sea The Lion and Lucca
Both are in good form and have won over the course. The testing ground will probably suit Lucca more than Sea The Lion who would prefer it a bit better.
Dermot Weld, trainer of Vigil
He's in good form and has done well over the course in the past, winning and finishing second from two starts.
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