Novice stars clash at Navan

Invitation Only and Death Duty feature amongst seven horses declared for the Navan Novice Hurdle on Sunday.

Invitation Only

Willie Mullins has saddled five of the last eight winners of the Grade Two contest, with Mikael D'Haguenet, Boston Bob, Pont Alexandre, Briar Hill and Bellshill on the roll of honour for the trainer.

Boston Bob, Briar Hill and Bellshill all carried the colours of Andrea and Graham Wylie, as does this year's Closutton contender Invitation Only.

The point-to-point and dual bumper winner made a smart start to his hurdling career at Gowran Park three weeks ago and steps up in distance and class as he bids to confirm his place as ante-post favourite for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Death Duty is perhaps his most dangerous opponent.

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Also a two-time bumper winner, Gordon Elliott's five-year-old justified prohibitive odds on his hurdling debut at Roscommon before following up in a Grade Three over this course and distance.

Death Duty is the ante-post favourite for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Festival in March.

Elliott also saddles Labaik, who won his first two starts over obstacles but refused to race in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse, and impressive Naas scorer Baltazar D'Allier.

Henry de Bromhead's Monalee, the Mouse Morris-trained Wishmoor and Moulin A Vent from Noel Meade's stable complete the line-up.

Meade, who last won this race with Aran Concerto a decade ago, said: "He's a good horse and we're happy with him.

"It's a good race, but we had a look what else we could run him in over Christmas and there wasn't a lot for him, so we decided we'd let him take his chance.

"He was very innocent on his first run over hurdles in the north (Down Royal) and he came on a good bit from that and won well in Punchestown.

"This looks another good step up for him, but we'll give it a go."

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