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'Thrill-a-minute' Great Field out to make a winning return in the Webster Cup

Great Field jumps the last on the way to victory in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase last April
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3.25 Navan
Grade 2 Bookmakers Webster Cup Chase | 2m | ATR

Exciting front-runner Great Field, unbeaten in four hair-raising starts as a novice chaser last season culminating with a top-level triumph at the Punchestown festival, is set to make his belated return to action in the Grade 2 Webster Cup at Navan under regular rider Jody McGarvey.

Great Field and McGarvey enjoyed their greatest day on the racecourse together last spring when running their rivals ragged in the Ryanair Novice Chase, and McGarvey, whose season has been hit by injury, has described himself as “really excited to be getting the leg over again”.

Trained by Willie Mullins, Great Field has been likened to stablemate and superstar chaser Un De Sceaux for his enthusiastic way of going, and the champion handler is hoping the JP McManus-owned gelding can burn his rivals off from the front again on his return.

Mullins said: “He’s an exciting front-runner and he’s shown that the trip suits him well and we’re hoping Jody McGarvey can get the best out of him again. The horse is fit and well and ready for action.”

McGarvey, who fractured his T8 vertebra in a fall in September, was not long back from that injury before he injured his chest and neck in another fall at Limerick over the Christmas period, and has revealed that Great Field was the one horse he was thinking about most when on the sidelines.

He said: “It’s very exciting to see him running again. When I was out injured I was very worried that I was going to miss him but, as it turned out, the two of us are kind of coming back at the same time, so hopefully it’s all for the best.”

Speaking about the task at hand, McGarvey added: “It looks a very good opportunity for him to get his head in front and make a winning return. I’m really excited to be getting the leg over him again.

“When he’s good, he’s very good and I thoroughly enjoy riding him. I suppose, the few mistakes he’s made in the past has taken away from the fact he can be an amazing jumper at times.

“He put up a flawless display at Punchestown and he’s just got so much speed. He’s a thrill-a-minute. He’s won on soft ground before so I don’t think too much will bother him and hopefully he can out-class his opposition."

Doctor Phoenix: represents Gordon Elliott in the Grade 2 Webster Cup
Great Field could have competition for the lead with Henry de Bromhead's Alisier D'Irlande declared.

Meanwhile, Gordon Elliott, who won this race for the first time last season with A Toi Phil, is represented by Dan Moore Handicap Chase and recent Grade 3-winning chaser Doctor Phoenix and the enigmatic Tell Us More. The field is completed by Inis Meain.

Racing at Navan is subject to the track passing an 8am inspection. The course was described as raceable with the ground heavy on Saturday, but the threat of snow has led to the inspection.

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I suppose, the few mistakes he’s made in the past has taken away from the fact he can be an amazing jumper at times
E.W. Terms