Five runners are scheduled to go to post for the Websters Cup (15:25), the feature race on Monday's card at Navan which has been salvaged after the original fixture was abandoned due to snow and frost.
The clear form pick is Any Second Now (182), who has confirmed himself a top-class chaser over the last couple of years with back-to-back podium finishes in the Grand National at Aintree, notably producing a career-best effort when beaten just two and a quarter lengths behind Noble Yeats (to whom he was conceding 12 lb) in the latest renewal.
He wasn't far off that level when last seen finishing fourth in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown a few weeks ago, ultimately passing the post 15 lengths behind the subsequent Gold Cup winner Galopin des Champs, and his best form leaves him 16 lb clear of Busselton (166) on Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings for this Grade 2.
Clearly, this isn't the be-end and end-all as connections plot a route back to Aintree and this trip is almost certainly short of his optimum. However, it will be a surprise if Any Second Now's class edge can't see him through, as it did in 2021 when he won this race despite it being run over two miles back then (the trip has since been upped to two and a half miles).
Busselton won the Kerry National at Listowel in September and then shaped encouragingly when last seen finishing fifth (beaten around 16 lengths) in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury in November, only fading late on having been ridden a shade too aggressively. He is clearly a smart chaser and should give a good account if ready to go after four months off, albeit this trip is probably shorter than ideal for him, too.
Velvet Elvis (161) is another in the mix for the forecast spot having returned to form with a dominant victory in a minor event at Fairyhouse last month, making all to beat the useful Minella Crooner (who was conceding him 3 lb) by three and a half lengths. He seemed to be suited by being allowed to dominate that small field and there doesn't appear to be any obvious competition for the lead here, either.
The field is completed by Fire Attack (160) and Hurricane Darwin (135+). A smart chaser on his day, Fire Attack has been given a good break since falling for the second start in a row in the Kerry National, while Hurricane Darwin looks out of his depth in this company judged on the balance of his form.
Timeform Analyst's Verdict:
This is clearly on the sharp side for Any Second Now in what is presumably his final prep run before another tilt at the Grand National. That said, he managed to win over 2m here when warming up for the 2021 Aintree spectacular and should prove much too good for his rivals on these advantageous terms. Velvet Elvis was impressive at Fairyhouse last time and gets the nod ahead of Busselton for forecast purposes.
Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings:
182 Any Second Now
161 Velvet Elvis
160 Fire Attack
135+ Hurricane Darwin
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