Navan Sunday: Thief Can Steal Lismullen Hurdle4 min read
I hate to oppose the wonderful Apple’s Jade, but she has a little bit to prove after things didn’t pan out in the spring, and she’s opposable after a break given her training issues.
Navan | Sunday
Ruby Walsh could do with a confidence-booster after his last four rides ended with him on the deck, and while the trolls will do their trolling, Ruby will dust himself off and seek to put such misfortune behind him in the best way possible. Quick Grabim can help him to do that, and the former Robbie McNamara-trained gelding can prove himself an excellent prospect by beating Felix Desjy. The worry for his rider is that the son of Oscar has already given Paul Townend a purler at Leopardstown last St Stephen’s Day, but his jumping has been assured since, and he’s been given plenty of time to regain his confidence. McNamara always had a sky-high opinion of the six-year-old, who runs in the colours of Geraldine Worcester, who with her late husband Michael, won the Gold Cup with Mr Mulligan. Hopefully he can now fulfil that early promise shown in bumpers, and he may just have too much experience at this stage for the raw Felix Desjy.
There are few horses in training I admire more than Apple’s Jade, but she proved hard to train last year, reportedly coming into season at inopportune times, and I’m loath to back her until I know that the issue has been dealt with. It may be that she’s trying to tell her connections that she’s ready to produce a champion of her own, but perhaps it’s just a phase. What we do know is that she thrives on racing, and if she’s going to be vulnerable it will be on her first run, so I’m reluctantly passing her over here. Identity Thief has had a spell in the wilderness, but roared back last spring when fourth in the Champion Hurdle before winning the Grade 1 Stayers Hurdle at Liverpool. He won’t be able to give weight to a peak-form Apple’s Jade, but with worries over the mare, he’s taken to pick up the pieces under Rachael Blackmore.
It’s hard to oppose Ballyoisin in his current form, and Enda Bolger’s charge can make it four out of four for the season. He was taking advantage of lenient handicapping over hurdles last time, but has looked better than ever over fences prior to that, jumping really well to win at Killarney and Punchestown in the early weeks of the season, and he’s adaptable in terms of the ground. Doctor Phoenix thrived for Gordon Elliott last year, but will be vulnerable on his first start since the spring, and would prefer the ground to be softer.