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Willie Mullins and Noel Meade target Navan Novice Hurdle

Updated: Tuesday, 10 Dec 2013 16:10 | Comments

Briar Hill should be suited by a step up in trip after accounting for modest opposition at Wexford on his hurdling bow over two miles two furlongs
Briar Hill should be suited by a step up in trip after accounting for modest opposition at Wexford on his hurdling bow over two miles two furlongs

Last season's Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill is one of seven remaining entries in what could prove a top-class renewal of the Navan Novice Hurdle on Sunday.

In its relatively short history the Grade One event has been won but some seriously good prospects including Solerina, Newmill, Aran Concerto, Mikael D'Haguenet and 12 months ago by Pont Alexandre.

Willie Mullins is going for his third successive win in the race after Boston Bob preceded Pont Alexandre, and the champion trainer is well represented with three of the possibles.

Briar Hill won his only race over hurdles to date at Wexford, while Mullins' other possibles, Moyle Park and Valseur Lido, also both won their only previous experience over obstacles.

Noel Meade has two possibles, with impressive Monksfield Novice Hurdle winner Apache Stronghold and Very Wood.

Meade said of Apache Stronghold: "All going well, he'll run on Sunday and we are looking forward to it.

"It (Monksfield Hurdle) looked a good race beforehand, but he made it look very easy.

"I thought on the day that he jumped well, but when I watched the race again, I thought he missed about four hurdles, which was a bit frustrating, as he can jump very well."

"If he can put in a complete round of jumping, I'd say he is obviously very good. I don't know what Willie (Mullins) is going to produce and he has so many to choose from, but if we get our horse there well, we'll be happy."

Eoin Griffin's Azorian was second in the Monksfield and needs to make up three lengths, but his trainer would like to see some rain.

He said: "The plan is to run, but ideally I would like to see a drop of rain beforehand.

"I was happy enough with his run the last day and he ran around a bit in front and was still green, but I think he has improved since the last day and as matters stand, he'll go to Navan on Sunday.

"He is a horse that I have always liked and I suppose we will learn a bit more about him after the weekend."

Colm Murphy's Empire Of Dirt, second to Faugheen at Navan on Saturday, completes the list.

Gigginstown House Stud owns four of the seven runners in Valseur Lido, Azorian, Very Wood and Empire Of Dirt.

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