HomeRacingCheltenham Hopefuls Set for a Second Crack of the Whip at Naas

Cheltenham Hopefuls Set for a Second Crack of the Whip at Naas

Cheltenham Hopefuls Set for a Second Crack of the Whip at Naas

Horse Racing Ireland has confirmed that the Naas meeting which was abandoned due to dense fog on Sunday has been rescheduled for Friday, January 12.

The meeting will feature the six races that were not run on Sunday plus an additional four-year-old and upwards handicap hurdle over two miles.

The standout race on the card will be the Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle, which is a key trial for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Top Irish trainers Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott both entered fancied runners in the race and are will be eager to see the rescheduled meeting staged.

The Mullins-trained Ile Atlantique was well supported in the ante-post market for the Ballymore after his number one jockey Paul Townend was booked for the ride at Naas.

Online bookmakers rated the horse as a 16/1 shot earlier in the week, but slashed him into 10/1 after reports emerged that he been working well at home.

Elliott’s Firefox is priced at odds of 7/1 on most leading betting sites for the Ballymore, highlighting why racing authorities are keen to stage the Naas race.

The racecourse is offering free entry to punters and has confirmed it will reimburse anyone whose day was ended prematurely on Sunday.

The meeting was abandoned after just one race due to the foggy conditions – a race in which Mullins had 1/4 shot Brandy Love turned over by stablemate Night And Day.

The trainer will be eager for the rescheduled meeting to be staged as he continues to assemble his team for the Cheltenham Festival in March.

More potential hurdling stars from the Mullins stable could showcase their credentials over at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown over the next few weeks.

Owner Kenny Alexander’s big money purchase Jade De Grugy was touted as a potential Cheltenham contender following an impressive debut at Leopardstown.

Fairyhouse’s SBK Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle on January 27 will likely be next on the agenda ahead of a tilt at the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in March.

Alexander’s racing manager Peter Molony. “She was very impressive. We are not sure what she beat, but what she did was very good and Paul was very impressed with her – we are quite excited about her.

“Every option will be open, but something like the Solerina at the end of the month might be something for her.

“If she progresses in the right direction, you would be dreaming of the Mares’ Novices’ at Cheltenham. It’s what we’re thinking of at the moment and hoping for.”

Another Alexander-owned hurdler is also on track to climb the ranks after making an eye-catching debut in a Grade 2juvenile hurdle at the recent Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

Kargese finished second behind Kala Conti on her debut for the Mullins stable and will now be aimed at a Grade 1 race at the Dublin Racing Festival in early February.

“We were happy with her – she just didn’t settle great on the day,” Molony added. “Considering that, she ran very well and the winner had had two runs already so again we’re quite excited about her.

“Hopefully all going well she goes to the Dublin Racing Festival and if things progress well, we will dream of a go at the Triumph Hurdle.”

While Molony is excited about what the future holds for Kargese, another talented hurdler from the Mullins yard could scupper their hopes of success at Leopardstown.

The Tony Bloom-owned Bunting is being aimed at the same race and could be tough to beat after recording an effortless victory at Limerick over the festive period.

The horse has been touted as Mullins’ main hope for the Triumph Hurdle and odds of 8/1 will disappear if he emerges victorious at Leopardstown.

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