Local hope well backed for Troytown after late Newbury switch | horse racing news

Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

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Velvet Elvis: one of the leading players in the Bar One Racing Troytown Handicap Chase

Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

By Mark Boylan

Trainer Tom Gibney is hoping a late diversion from Newbury to Navan this weekend could reap major dividends with stable flagbearer Velvet Elvis in Sunday’s €100,000 Bar One Racing Troytown Handicap Chase (2.20).

A tilt at the Coral Gold Cup had been under consideration for last season’s Irish Grand National sixth, but the likelihood of softer ground just 15 minutes up the road from Gibney’s County Meath base has prompted connections to keep matters closer to home.

There has been market confidence behind the Derek Kierans-owned six-year-old in recent days and he has shortened to 10-1 from 20-1 with Ladbrokes for a local Troytown triumph.

Gibney is expecting a much improved display from Velvet Elvis following a disappointing reappearance in the Munster National at Limerick.

“He just needed the run,” said Gibney. “We were really hoping to go to Newbury but the ground went against us completely. Luckily we had the back-up plan of Navan.

Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

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Tom Gibney on Velvet Elvis:

Tom Gibney on Velvet Elvis: “We have high hopes for him this season so hopefully he can go in the right direction”

Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

“Training where we are, the Troytown is always a race I’ve had my eye on if we had a suitable horse for it. It’s great to be going there this year – we have high hopes for Velvet Elvis this season so hopefully he can go in the right direction.”

Irish Grand National-winning trainer Gibney is set to be doubly represented in the prestigious handicap as useful mare Regina Dracones is due to make her seasonal reappearance.

She finished a creditable second to Velvet Elvis on her penultimate start in the valuable Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Chase Final over Sunday’s course and distance last March.

Gibney said: “The plan is for the two to run, especially with the rain that has come. We’ve had a good bit of rain the last few days.

“I was hoping they’d get every drop that was around because the softer it is, the better it will be for my two.”

Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

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Regina Dracones: lively outsider in Sunday's feature at Navan

Regina Dracones: lively outsider in Sunday’s feature at Navan

Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

He added: “It was a brilliant run from Regina Dracones last season when second to Velvet Elvis at Navan. She’s a few pounds better off at the weights this time too. If she reproduces anything like that on Sunday, hopefully the two of them can go close.

“She’s fairly straight in terms of fitness. She would hopefully be a different kettle of fish to Velvet Elvis.” [compared to his first start of the season],

Farclas and Lifetime Ambition head the weights for the Troytown, with 19 runners declared including ante-post favorite Frontal Assault, Egality Mans and The Big Dog.

Conditions at Navan were described as soft, with approximately 5mm of rain expected before racing.

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