GORDON Elliott landed the first Grade 1 of 2022 in Ireland last Sunday when Ginto (144+) exceeded his previous efforts on the clock with an all-the-way victory in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle.

Rather than taking a lead as previously, Jack Kennedy dictated terms on the progressive gelding and, as a result, posted by far the best data of the hurdle races on the card.

The time figure was at the lower end of the scale for a top-level contest, although such was the dominance the six-year-old held over his field it would be a surprise if was not able to step up considerably on this performance.

The final circuit time was 2.1 seconds quicker than Bronn (125+) who was a further 6.9 seconds faster than Paddys Planet (115) who landed the 80-116 handicap, indicating Willie Mullins’s debutant winner to be above average. The closing sectionals confirm this as there was just a second between Ginto and Bronn from the third last flight of hurdles.

Impressive Lord

Blue Lord (160) was an impressive winner on his second start over fences and will likely head to the Arkle at Cheltenham as a high-profile understudy to his more illustrious stablemate Ferny Hollow.

The overall race time needs adjusting to compare to the other races as the two fences in the home straight were omitted due to low sun. Nevertheless, the time was still 40 lengths faster than the handicap won by Fighting Fit (126).

I would rate Philip Dempsey’s gelding as performing above his official rating on the day based on his closing sectional of 67.4 seconds which bettered Blue Lord (68.3) and Jeremys Flame (120) who stopped the clock at 69.2 seconds.


Belle De Manech (127+), Wincanton, Sunday, December 26th - a convincing winner in a fast time.

Pied Piper (135+), Punchestown, Friday, December 31st - posted an impressive closing sectional in winning on his hurdles debut

Filanderer (130+), Warwick, Friday, December 31st - clocked an impressive time for a bumper and will improve for the experience.

Broken Halo (137+), Exeter, Saturday, January 1st - improved for his first run over fences to record a facile win and looks progressive.