Last year's runner-up can spoil the record of favourites in Grade Two chase
The classiest jumps action this weekend comes from across the Irish Sea at Navan. The Fortria Stakes is the race of the day with 7 runners going head to head for the Group 2 prize. Will we see another horse emerge and dominate this race, like Big Zeb who won in 2009, 2010 and 2011, or Flemenstar, who has won the race for the past two years?
The most likely runner to follow in their footsteps could be Willie Mullins’ Twinlight who will be ridden by regular pilot Ruby Walsh. Twinlight was a little disappointing on his final start of last season when well beaten in the Punchestown Champion Chase but the much softer ground here should be in his favour, as should the drop in class. He’s run well on his previous try at Navan and is the highest rated runner in the race, so looks primed for a big run, even carrying his 6lb penalty.
Days Hotel and Special Tiara will be disputing second favouritism and the former looks interesting having finished second in this race last year. He too has to carry a penalty but the ground might not have been soft enough last year in this race when only 1.25 lengths behind Flemenstar. He’s arguably the most solid selection being rated only 1lb behind favourite Twinlight. Special Tiara is the shortest priced runner not carrying a penalty and he comes out at least 4lbs ahead of his rivals when taking into account the penalties. He may not want the ground quite this soft though and on that basis is opposed.
A shock in this race doesn’t look too likely with 7 of the last 10 winners starting at 6/5 or less. Arnaud and Baily Green are the only other runners given a real chance by the odds compilers and the former very much still has to prove his class. Baily Green is much more interesting for Mouse Morris. He may have been pulled up on his latest start but he is more than proven in this type of race and that ‘run’ last month could give him a fitness edge on many of his rivals. He may well dispute the runners up spot with favourite Twinlight but it is Days Hotel who looks the best value to go one place better than last year.