Mark Milligan heads to Naas for his two selections on a cracking Sunday card…
“She wasn’t given a hard time at all once held and should come on a bundle with that under her belt”
We welcome in 2022 at Naas with an absolutely cracking renewal of the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle (14:10), a race that in recent times has thrown up the likes of Bob Olinger and Envoi Allen. Given the quality line-up assembled this year, it would be no surprise whatsoever were we to witness a winner of that calibre once again.
Gordon Elliott fields a strong one-two punch courtesy of the Bective Stud-owned pair, Hollow Games and Ginto.
The former landed the four-timer under rules in good style with a win in the Grade 3 Monksfield at Navan last time, that his second successive win over hurdles after a pair of bumper scores.
Ginto, meanwhile, looked a very smart prospect himself when convincingly winning a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Navan last month, taking over three out and forging eleven lengths clear of Eric Bloodaxe. A repeat of that puts him firmly in the mix here.
Willie Mullins has landed this race seven times in the past and he fields the main danger to the Elliott pair in the shape of Whatdeawant, who ran to a fair level when making a winning start over timber in a maiden hurdle on the same Navan card as Ginto, the winning time comparing favourably with that one.
Henry De Bromhead’s Grand Jury also looked a decent prospect as he started out over hurdles with a fluent win at Punchestown last month. Leading on the run-in, he justified short odds with a bit in hand and looks certain to flourish over the extra half-mile he gets here.
Of the rest, Churchstonewarrior has already run to a useful level in three starts over hurdles, winning two of them, but the feeling is he doesn’t have quite the residual improvement in him as the quartet already mentioned.
It’s a bit of a stretch to make a cogent case for the other pair, The Little Yank and Angels Dawn, and it would be quite a surprise were either of those to land a telling blow.
I seem to have spent a lot of my time over the festive period using the words ‘this is a cracking contest, but a no-bet race for me’ and the same applies here. We should be in for quite a race if all the big guns fire, and I’m happy to sit this one out from a punting point of view.
Just sit back and enjoy what should be an absolute corker.
Roseys Hollow fancied in opener
There are some nice supporting races on the Naas card and we’ll take a quick gallop through them in chronological order.
The opener at 12:30 is a 2m 3f mares beginners chase, with Dolcita and Jeremys Flame sure to be popular, though I’m siding with Roseys Hollow to build on her promising chasing debut here a couple of weeks ago.
She wasn’t given a hard time at all once held and should come on a bundle with that under her belt. She should also be a spot of value despite the small field.
Blue Lord is likely be an odds-on poke in the 2m novice chase at 13:00, having made an impressive start to his chasing career at Fairyhouse last month. He wasn’t far off the best of the novice hurdlers last season and looks set to take high rank over the bigger obstacles, too.
Gevrey could be well handicapped
Gevrey makes plenty of appeal in the following 2m handicap chase (13:35), having been handed an appealing opening mark based on his hurdles form.
He hasn’t cut much ice on his last couple of starts in novice company, but it looks to me that those runs were a means to an end, and he should put up a bold showing as he makes his handicap debut in this sphere.
A big field go to post for the 2m maiden hurdle at 14:45, though in truth only a handful are likely to be involved come the business end.
Bronn made a successful debut in ready fashion for the Stuart Crawford yard in a bumper at Ballinrobe back in April and has now joined Willie Mullins ahead of this hurdling debut.
He should be bang there, along with the likes Flame Bearer and Killer Mode, who are both likely to have more to offer going forward.
The 2m 3f handicap hurdle at 15:20 looks a tricky puzzle to solve, though Paddys Planet is still lightly raced under rules and there could could well be plenty of mileage in his mark of 106.
There are no prices available at the time of writing, but I’m expecting him to be well found in the market, so won’t be putting him up, for all that he’s likely to take a great deal of beating.
Plenty of guesswork is needed in the closing 2m bumper at 15:50, with the field made up primarily of newcomers. Clearly this isn’t a race we can seriously consider for betting purposes, but hopefully we’ll have made a tidy profit on our two selections by the time this comes around.
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