ARTICULUM dominated from the front in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase at Naas.
Having opened his account over fences at Fairyhouse three weeks ago, the Gordon Elliott-trained Campeador was long odds-on to follow up when the betting opened, but strong support for Terence O’Brien’s Articulum saw him challenging for favouritism come the off.
In the end, Articulum was an even-money shot behind 9/10 market leader Campeador – and with the only other runner Muroor completely out of his depth, it was effectively a straight shoot-out between the top two from an early stage.
Articulum fenced beautifully in front in the hands of David Mullins, with Campeador and Mark Walsh always in his slipstream.
There was little to choose between the pair as they jumped the second fence from home, but O’Brien’s charge soon asserted and passed the post seven and a half lengths to the good.
O’Brien said: “He always showed us a lot – but he’s had his wind problems, and we’ve done a bit of touching up and doctoring over the last year or two.
“Hopefully we’ll go to Leopardstown and take on Grade 1 company at the Dublin Racing Festival. David was very happy with him, and thought there was plenty of horse left.
“I’ll probably leave him at two miles (in the Irish Arkle), and we can always go up again. I think there is more improvement in him, and hopefully he’ll be sound in the morning.”
Noel Meade has similarly high hopes for Valdieu following his impressive display in the opening I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle.
After five consecutive placed efforts in bumpers, the six-year-old finally came good in that sphere at Down Royal over the Christmas period and was a 100/30 chance for his hurdling bow.
Ridden by Sean Flanagan, Valdieu eased six and a half lengths clear of fellow Gigginstown House Stud-owned runner Final List.
Odds-on favourite Barrington Court finished tailed off, but was found to be lame post-race.
Meade said: “I couldn’t believe this horse was getting beaten in bumpers – we thought he was the best bumper horse we had last year.
“The hurdles helped him as he attacked them. He’s a smart horse. There is every possibility he could go to Leopardstown (for the Dublin Racing Festival).”
READ THE FULL NAAS REPORT IN NEXT WEEKEND'S EDITION OF THE IRISH FIELD