American Mike too strong for Fact To File at Navan

Classy beginners chase likely to be a real pointer for the future.

American Mike came out on top from Fact To File as the two high-class bumper performers made their fencing debuts under rules in the Race And Stay Irish EBF Beginners Chase at Navan.

The Gordon Elliott-trained American Mike never quite hit the heights over hurdles that his bumper career had promised, but judged on this evidence he is set to take high rank over the larger obstacles.

For his part, this year’s Champion Bumper runner-up Fact To File has missed out hurdling altogether to go straight over fences – a move his trainer Willie Mullins famously made with the brilliant Florida Pearl.

American Mike (9-4) and Jack Kennedy set out to make all, and while Fact To File (8-11 favourite) really quickened going to two out American Mike refused to give way and was three and a quarter lengths to the good at the line.

“I was delighted with him. In fairness to Jack he’s put a lot of work into this horse and has been schooling him every day himself. He’s even been changing the bit and doing different things with him,” said Elliott.

“He finished his race out today which is the first time he’s done it since he was a bumper horse.

“I got deflated with him over hurdles as he never finished one out. I think he might have bled one day and it took him a long time to get over it. He looked good there today and hopefully he can keep going forward.

“He could maybe go to Limerick at Christmas.”

Elliott, who has his string in tremendous shape, went on: “I’m absolutely thrilled, that one meant as much as all the rest of them because Noel and Valerie (Moran, owners) are from Navan and they are massive supporters of mine. That was extra special for me.

“They are good friends of mine and we hit the crossbar with a few yesterday. They deserved every bit of luck they get with what they are putting into horse racing and into Meath football. They are just brilliant people and for them to have a winner today meant a lot.

“For me Navan is up there with the best racecourses in Ireland. The festival has been great, the crowds are great and it’s great racing.

“We’re on to Punchestown next week for the Morgiana and the John Durkan and then Fairyhouse the following weekend. We don’t realise in Ireland the racing we have.”

A delighted Noel Moran added: “That was very good and he jumped very well. I think he’s back to his best and it was a good performance.

“He was always going to make a chaser. You always get a kick out of a winner, but to have one here at our local track makes it all the better, especially with the two-day festival here for the first time.

“It’s absolutely brilliant, we have a lot of friends and family here today and we’ll have a good night tonight!”

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