Grangeclare gunning for Grade One gold at Naas
Grangeclare West heads a classy field of nine for the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle at the County Kildare track on Sunday.
Trained by Willie Mullins, the seven-year-old has won a point-to-point, a bumper and a maiden hurdle in his unbeaten career to date.
Following his bumper success, he was not seen for another 547 days before an impressive win at Navan at the end of November and he now reappears 42 days later.
He has failed to scare away the opposition, however. Gavin Cromwell’s Inothewayurthinkin is also defending an unbeaten record while Joseph O’Brien’s Dawn Rising caused an upset when comfortably seeing off the well-touted American Mike in a Grade Three at Navan.
Both are owned by JP McManus and his racing manager Frank Berry said: “I don’t think ground will be any issue anyway and we wouldn’t be making excuses in that regard for either of them.
“They’re both nice horses and they’ve been both doing their job nice and grand, but this is a different level and we’ll see how we’re going afterwards.
“We’ll know a lot more about them after this Grade One, which always throws up a good winner and that’s the nature of racing in Ireland at this time of the year.”
Mullins also runs Champ Kiely, a beaten odds-on favourite when only fourth in the Royal Bond to Marine Nationale last time out.
Gordon Elliott runs two nice types in Imagine and Irish Point.
“Irish Point is a lovely horse. He did everything well on his first start for us at Cork when he won his maiden hurdle and then he went to Fairyhouse for the Royal Bond and just got beat,” said Elliott.
“You are always disappointed when you don’t win, but we were still delighted with the run for only the second start over hurdles, so hopefully he learned a bit that day and can give a good account of himself at Naas on Sunday.”
Elliott added: “Imagine is in good order since his last run and we couldn’t be happier with him at home and deserves to take his chance in this calibre of race. We are really looking forward to it, it’s a top-class race every year at a great meeting.”
The Oliver McKiernan-trained Kalanisi Star and Noel Meade’s Affordale Fury also run, as does Sean Doyle’s Monbeg Park, a beaten favourite in a Grade Three last time out.
Doyle said: “We still hold him in high regard and his run the last day was better I’d say than it looked at first. We were held up with the frost the week before and we just didn’t get the work into him we’d have liked and that told. The three miles might have stretched him too at this stage of his career.”
Elsewhere on the card, Mullins gives Appreciate It more fencing experience in the Rathmore Stud Irish EBF Novice Chase.
An easy winner on his chasing debut, the nine-year-old landed the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2021.
Elliott’s Top Bandit takes him on once more, having been beaten seven lengths at Punchestown.
Henry de Bromhead’s Telmesomethinggirl and Shark Hanlon’s Skyace are among six in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Beginners Chase
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox