08 Mar O’Brien holds a strong hand in his quest to win a first Toalsbet Leinster National
Sunday’s Toalsbet Leinster National at Naas promises to be an ultra competitive renewal of the race with recent National Trial winner Dounikos and last year’s Toalsbet Leinster National winner Pairofbrowneyes featuring in the 15-strong field.
Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins both send out three runners for the €100,000 contest. Dounikos is joined by last year’s Thyestes Chase winner Monbeg Notorious and the Grade 1 winner Blow By Blow for Elliott, while Irish Grand National runner-up Ilseofhopendreams and Bellow Mome represent Mullins alongside Pairofbrowneyes.
“They are all in great form,” Elliott reported of his team. “Dounikos came out of Punchestown very well and won’t have any trouble coming back to this trip but he’s got plenty on his plate with top weight after he went up nine pounds for Punchestown.”
“Hopefully Monbeg Notorious can bounce back to the form he showed last season but ideally he would want softer ground to be seen at his best,” commented Elliott.
Trainer Joseph O’Brien has formed a strong team for the Cheltenham Festival next week but he is hoping to claim a first Toalsbet Leinster National at Naas in the meantime.
O’Brien has declared Paddy Power Chase runner-up Vieux Morvan and the Grand National Trial runner-up Wishmoor.
“Vieux Morvan had a great run in the Paddy Power and was a little bit disappointing back in trip the last day but we think the step back up in distance will suit him and any rain around would be a help for him as well.”
“Wishmoor had a good run at Punchestown behind Dounikos, the horse is in good shape and he seemed to enjoy the step up in trip. I’d be hoping for a good run from him with a nice weight. It’s good prize money and a competitive race so with a bit of rain around everyone should be happy and we are looking forward to it.”
Elsewhere on Sunday’s card the Pat Doyle-trained Kaiser Black takes on Camelia De Cotte for Willie Mullins in a fascinating renewal of the Grade 3 Naas Directors Plate Novice Chase.
Mullins has bypassed possible Cheltenham Festival engagements with Camelia De Cotte in favour of Naas, while Kaiser Black will look to go one better than his recent fine effort behind La Bague Au Roi in the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival.
“He’s in great order and I couldn’t be happier with him,” said Doyle. “He’s come out of Leopardstown in great shape, he’s nicely treated by the race conditions and he’ll take beating if he runs to his rating.”
Course and distance winners Chosen Mate and Advantage Point clash in the Irish Racing Writers Kingsfurze Novice Hurdle, while another notable runner on Sunday’s card at Naas is Sandymount Duke.
The Jessica Harrington-trained Sandymount Duke is an English Grand National entry and is owned by Rolling Stones legend Ronnie Wood. Sandymount Duke runs in the Naas Supporters Club Handicap Hurdle at 4.20pm.
The first on a seven-race card at Naas this Sunday is due off at 2.10pm and Thom Malone of Off The Ball will be getting loads of inside information for racegoers ahead of the Cheltenham Festival with interviews throughout the day. For further information and hospitality bookings see www.naasracecourse.com