Gordon Elliott will hope normal winning service resumes in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase at his local Navan track on Sunday.
The top trainer dominated the €100,000 feature for four years in a row from 2014 but last season couldn’t land a blow when Tout Est Permis emerged on top for Noel Meade.
It looks like Elliott is preparing to try and make up for that by attacking the prestigious prize in strength this time.
He has 11 of the 31 entries left in the Troytown after Tuesday’s forfeit stage including the former Irish Grand National hero General Principle and Ravenhill, narrowly beaten by Poker Party in September’s Kerry National. Elliott’s team however won’t include his Galway Plate winner Borice.
Immediate bookmaker reaction was to rate Ravenhill his best chance at a general 12-1 although the layers appear to believe JP McManus’s team might hold a potential ace in the Troytown pack.
Portmore Lough, twice a winner at Galway last month, is one of ten McManus horses left in and he is a 6-1 favourite to give his 82-year-old trainer John Kiely another major handicap success.
McManus’s other potential contenders include the former Grade One-winning hurdler Tower Bridge, runner-up to A Plus Tard at last season’s Cheltenham festival.
They all have to contend however with Elliott’s strength in depth. His run of Troytown success began in 2014 with Balbriggan and a year later Riverside City helped launch the career of the then 16-year-old jockey Jack Kennedy.
In 2016 Empire Of Dirt landed the Troytown on a day when his trainer came within an ace of going through the card, scoring a stunning 41,276-1 six-timer on the seven race programme.
Elliott has entries for all seven contests again this Sunday with his unbeaten bumper champion Envoi Allen a notable inclusion in the Grade Three Monksfield Hurdle.
Envoi Allen was impressive on his jumping debut at Down Royal earlier this month although connections have indicated he may skip this engagement and wait for the following week’s Grade One Royal Bond Hurdle at Fairyhouse’s ‘Winter Festival.’
Instead the recent For Auction winner Abacadabras could line up in a potentially small field after just eight horses were left in.
Willie Mullins has three options for the Troytown, a race he last won a decade ago with Beroni.
However the champion trainer’s focus could be trained before that on a possible chasing debut for his high class mare Laurina.
Not seen since finishing fourth to Espoir D’allen in last year’s Champion Hurdle, Laurina holds entries over fences at both Thurles on Thursday and Gowran in a Beginners Chase on Saturday.
In other news, the dual-Aintree Grand National winner Tiger Roll is one of half a dozen nominees for Horse Racing Ireland’s 2019 Horse of the Year award.
The Michael O’Leary-owned star is joined on the list by his stable companion Apple’s Jade as well the Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo.
Also featured is Kemboy and two stars of the 2019 flat season, Magical and Joseph O’Brien’s first Breeders Cup winner as a trainer, Iridessa.
The prize is one of a number of awards that will be handed out by HRI next month.