12.57 Finlay Ford At Naas
Novice Chase 3m 1f 70y
Chemical Energy has to concede weight to his rivals but looks up to completing the hat-trick.
A smart novice hurdler last term, the Gordon Elliott-trained seven-year-old disappointed on his chasing debut at Kilbeggan in April but has won twice since. Adaptable enough to win over two miles at Listowel, the gelding relishes a stamina test and has already been earmarked for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham. While there remains some room for improvement in the jumping department, he should know more on this fourth start over fences.
Amirite was considered good enough to compete in Grade 1 company last time but unseated too early to say what impact he might have made. Prior to that, the seven-year-old had finished third in a Grade 3 contest at Punchestown.
Lightly-raced for his age, he remains relatively unexposed at this discipline, so could well put it up to the Elliott horse.
SELECTION: CHEMICAL ENERGY
Next Best: Amirite
1.32 Buy Your Naas 2023
Membership Now Novice
Handicap Chase 2m 4f 90y
Percy Warner catches the eye here, stepping up in trip on his handicap debut. A former point-to-point winner, the son of Ocovango won twice over hurdles for Gordon Elliott before being bought by current connections.
Having had just two starts over fences in novice company, he now switches to handicaps over a longer distance. The application of first-time cheekpieces should also aid his cause.
Dual hurdles winner Aarons Day has been set some tough tasks over fences, including when racing in Grade 1 company last time. While the Oliver McKiernan-trained gelding clearly isn’t up to that level, he is a decent handicapper who should be capable of making his presence felt in these much calmer waters.
SELECTION: PERCY WARNER
Next Best: Aarons Day
2.07 Cheltenham Trials Day At Naas February 11th Maiden Hurdle 1m 7f 151yrds
Zanndabad could represent some each-way value on just his second start for Tony Martin.
A four-time winner on the flat in France, the Iffraaj gelding made a promising debut over hurdles when a staying on seventh at Leopardstown over Christmas.
The manner in which he hit the line at the Foxrock venue suggests that the four-year-old should have no difficulty with the stiffer finish he is set to encounter here.
Almuhit ran a similar sort of race to Zanndabad first-time up, finishing a place ahead of the Martin horse in Leopardstown.
He subsequently improved to fill the runner-up spot at Punchestown but may still have more to offer.
Next Best: Almuhit
2.42 Naas Racecourse Business Club Limestone Lad Hurdle (Grade 3) 1m 7f 151yrds
Echoes In Rain is well treated by the conditions of this contest, so should be up to winning the eighth race of her career.
The former Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle winner at the Punchestown Festival had been in great heart on the flat this summer, winning the Connaught Hotel (QR) Handicap at Galway, before just being denied in the Irish Cesarewitch.
A fall in the Hatton’s Grace on her return to jumping slightly blotted her copybook last time but the seven-year-old can get her head in front now.
Bob Olinger is an intriguing contender dropping back to the minimum trip. Not seen over this distance since finishing second in a maiden hurdle at Gowran in 2020, one would expect him to make the running in order to try to turn this race into a proper test of stamina.
SELECTION: ECHOES IN RAIN
Next Best: Bob Olinger
3.17 I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle 2m 3f
Seabank Bistro is given another chance, despite making a somewhat underwhelming start to his career over hurdles. A bumper winner over this distance here last season, he subsequently went on to finish an excellent fourth in the Cheltenham equivalent.
A disappointing performance at the Punchestown Festival brought the curtain down on his campaign but the six-year-old had been expected to develop into a leading novice hurdler this term.
Two odds-on defeats in his initial forays over jumps have left questions to answer but the Willie Mullins-trained gelding may well do so here.
Kansas City Star was out of his depth in the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury last time but the fact connections took up that entry suggests he is clearly thought capable of much better.
Returned to maiden company now, it would be a surprise were he not to be one of the leading contenders.
SELECTION: SEABANK BISTRO
Next Best: Kansas City Star
3.52 Congratulations Naas On Cleanest Town In Ireland 2021 and 2022 Handicap Hurdle 1m 7f 151yrds
Gold Speed may be the veteran in this field but Adrian Murray’s 10-year-old looks the horse that they all have to beat.
The gelding was returning from a 525-day absence when a fast finishing second at Navan in November, then ran even better when fourth in a stronger contest at Leopardstown last month. With those two runs under his belt, the horse should be at peak fitness now and taking a slight drop in grade, he has much in his favour.
Neveradullmoment was a long way behind the Murray runner at Navan but shaped much better when staying on strongly into fourth last time.
However, as that race was over 2m4f, it is slightly surprising to see the J.P. McManus owned six-year-old back at the minimum trip here. Perhaps, given a truly-run race, he will have the pace to lie up early and if that’s the case, few will be coming home better.
SELECTION: GOLD SPEED
Next Best: Neveradullmoment
4.27 Nursery Of Champions (Pro/Am) Flat Race 2m 3f
Will Do sets a fair standard in this finale, having been in the frame on both starts under rules. Second in a maiden hurdle at Punchestown in November, the Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old finished third behind two potentially exciting types in what is traditionally a strong Leopardstown bumper over the Christmas period. With the experience of those two starts to call upon, the gelding will take beating now.
Western Diego is an obvious threat representing the Willie Mullins yard. While the bare form of point-to-point win hasn’t been franked by the placed horses, he could do no more than beat the opposition on the day.
Making his first start for the champion trainer, he is a serious danger to the more experienced Elliot horse.
SELECTION: WILL DO
Next Best: Western Diego