Bob Olinger is one of 12 horses confirmed for the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle.
Impressive in winning a point-to-point and a Gowran Park bumper last season, Henry de Bromhead’s charge made a promising start to his hurdling career when pushing last season’s Champion Bumper winner Ferny Hollow all the way back at Gowrran in November.
The Sholokhov gelding duly went one better at prohibitive odds when stepped up two and a half miles at Navan last month, and will bid to follow up at the top level on Sunday.
De Bromhead told Sky Sports Racing: “We like him a lot. He was good the first day against Ferny Hollow – when he probably lacked a bit of experience – and we stepped him up at Navan, and he won well.
“He seems in good form. It’s probably a little bit sooner than ideal (this weekend), but it’s just over three weeks, so we’re aiming towards that.
“We’re hoping for a good run.”
Gordon Elliott claimed the prize for the third time in the last four years with the brilliant Envoi Allen 12 months ago. This year the Cullentra handler has Fantasio D’alene, Farouk D’alene, Ragnar Lodbrok and Wide Receiver in the mix.
Willie Mullins has saddled a record eight previous winners and has just one contender this time around in Blue Lord, who looked a high-class recruit when winning on his Irish debut at Punchestown.
Jessica Harrington’s Ashdale Bob, a surprise winner of the Grade 2 Navan Novice Hurdle on his latest appearance, also features.
“Ashdale Bob won the last day in Navan and we’ve been very happy with him,” said Kate Harrington, who is assistant to her mother. “He’ll do a bit of work tomorrow (Wednesday) and we’ll decide if he’ll go to Naas for the Grade 1 Lawlor's Of Naas Novice Hurdle."
On the undercard, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase could be an intriguing affair – with the Mullins-trained pair of Blackbow and Energumene, as well as De Bromhead’s Captain Guinness, among eight possibles.