YOU rarely get a big field for the Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle.

No renewal in the last 10 years has had more than eight runners. But what it lacks in numbers, it generally makes up for in terms of quality, as evidenced by a roll of honour that includes Envoi Allen, Battleoverdoyen, Next Destination and Rule The World.

Last year, Bob Olinger beat Blue Lord and Gabynako, and went on to emulate the 2019 winner Envoi Allen by winning the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

It’s early days for the class of 2022 (we’ll get used to it) of course, but this afternoon’s renewal looks up to scratch. Hollow Games, Ginto, Whatdeawant and Grand Jury are all unbeaten over hurdles going into the race, so something is going to have to give.

Hollow victory

Hollow Games wasn’t overly impressive visually in winning the Grade 3 Monksfield Hurdle at Navan in November, but there was mitigation.

They didn’t go a great pace in that race, they stood still for a while after the tape was released, nothing wanted to lead, so Hollow Games ended up leading and disputing early on.

Gordon Elliott’s horse came under pressure when they quickened at the top of the home straight, but there was a lot to like about the manner in which he knuckled down from there. Also, his three best jumps were at the last three flights, when the pace was up and when he needed to jump well.

It was a wholly likeable performance from a horse who will probably be better suited by a faster pace at today’s intermediate trip.

From the family of Remittance Man, you can understand why he has been put in as favourite for today’s race but, a point-to-point winner and winner of his maiden hurdle over two miles and six and a half furlongs at Down Royal in October, it may be that he will be seen to even better effect when he steps up to three miles.


Ginto was impressive in winning the Grade 2 Navan Novice Hurdle last time. He travelled through his race well, he moved to the front over the third last flight, and he came away from his rivals over the last two flights and up the hill to post an impressive victory.

The form of the race is working out really well too, with runner-up Eric Bloodaxe winning the Grade 2 Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle at Limerick on Monday, and third-placed Mr Fred Rogers beating Nell’s Well – conqueror of Churchstonewarrior at Cork on her previous run – at Thurles next time.

Better value

That said, at a bigger price, Whatdeawant might represent the value of the race. Willie Mullins’ horse beat Ginto in a bumper at Fairyhouse on his racecourse debut on this weekend last year, and he stepped forward from that when he finished third in the Grade 2 bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in February.

He ran a strange race that day. He came under pressure as they neared the end of the back straight, it looked like he might get tailed off, but he stayed on strongly from the top of the home straight to get up and snatch third place behind Kilcruit.

He stayed on well too to win his maiden hurdle on his debut this season over two and a half miles at Navan.

He was awkward at the third last flight that day, and it appeared as if he got a little out-paced, as Gracchus De Balme and Harald Hardrad appeared to be travelling better in front of him. Still four lengths behind on the run to the final flight, he stayed on strongly up the run-in to get up and win by over two lengths in the end.

Willie Mullins’ horse should progress from that, his seasonal debut and his first run over hurdles, and just his third run under all codes. Softer ground today should bring his undoubted stamina over this trip into play, and he could run a big race.


Whatdeawant, 2.10 Naas Sunday, 9/2 (generally), 1pt win

12/1 winner

One of Donn’s two recommended bets last week was Iwilldoit (advised at 12/1), who won the Coral Welsh Grand National on Monday.