TODAY’S Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle (2.10) has built up a fine reputation for unearthing a star, having been upgraded to Grade 1 level in 2015. Even before that, it was always an informative Grade 2, and its previous three winners at that grade included Monksland, Rule The World and Briar Hill, who all went on to place at the Cheltenham Festival that season.

Most recently both Bob Olinger and Envoi Allen have emerged from this contest with their reputations significantly enhanced before living up to such at Cheltenham on their next starts.

There isn’t a horse of that sort of profile coming into today’s renewal, but that doesn’t mean that one won’t emerge from it because there are four very promising novices. Gordon Elliott and Bective Stud have two of them, the €470,000 purchase Ginto and the unbeaten Hollow Games, who each prepped for this with impressive wins at Navan.

The trainer told Naas racecourse: “It’s a race we like to run horses in. It’s two and a half miles on a brilliant track. Ginto looks like he could be anything. He’s a horse for the future. He looks to be a chaser and was bought to be a chaser so whatever he does over hurdles is going to be a bonus.

“Hollow Games is a nice horse. He’ll like the step up in trip. He doesn’t do anything flashy at home but he’s always there for you on the racecourse.”

Willie Mullins has just one representative, which could be a good or bad sign for his rivals. The champion trainer has been in imperious form this Christmas with a 28% strike rate.

Whatdeawant is owned by Naas-based Sean and Bernadine Mulryan and he was impressive at Navan where he powered home to win his maiden hurdle in November.

Assessing his chance coming into the race, Patrick Mullins said: “Whatdeawant has surprised us on the track. His form is better than his homework, which is always a great sign.

“He’s a very uncomplicated ride. He stays well but showed a good turn of foot to beat Ginto in his bumper (last season). On that form we’d have to be very hopeful going into this race but it’s competitive with Ginto and Hollow Games, but we’re expecting a big run and hopefully he’ll continue to surprise us.”

The final horse in the main quartet is Grand Jury who represents last year’s winning connections of Henry de Bromhead, Rachael Blackmore and Robcour. He stayed on nicely to beat subsequent maiden hurdle winner Ardla at Punchestown and this step up to trip should suit him well.

Flanagan the 2021 nap champ

BRIAN Flanagan emerged as the nap table champion for 2021 with a whopping €51.70 final tally.

The Irish Daily Star’s racing journalist, and head of sport for the Reach Group, was winning the competition for the second time and he hit the line hard with an 18/1 winner in Grange Walk at Leopardstown on St Stephen’s Day.

He said: “It was nice to finish with an 18/1 winner but Vincent Finnegan made it stressful with some great picking near the end. His last day selection (Easca Peasca) led into the straight at 28/1 too so I was glad to see that one getting tired.

“I brought the kids to Disneyland Paris with the winnings I got from the time I won it before but the sad thing is they don’t even remember it now they were so young at the time!

“It’s a great competition to win and the racing journalists are very thankful to The Irish Field and Ladbrokes for running it.”

Donal Murphy (Press Association) finished in second on €14.84 while Vincent Finegan ( was third with €13.25.