Top Novices Set to Clash in Grade 1 Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle at Naas

McKinley and Paul Townend (blue cap) coming to take Tell Us More (Bryan Cooper) to win the "Lawlor Hotel Novice Hurdle" GR1 at Naas - Alain Barr - 04.01.2015 Five leading novice hurdlers will face the starter for the second running of the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle at Naas this Sunday. Successful with McKinley in the race 12 months ago, champion trainer Willie Mullins has declared both Bellshill and Stone Hard for the €90,000 contest. Ruby Walsh will again be on board Bellshill who added to his runaway maiden hurdle victory at Cork in November with a thoroughly impressive win in the Grade 2 Navan Novice Hurdle three weeks ago. Stone Hard landed his maiden hurdle in good style at Gowran Park in November but unshipped his rider at halfway in the Navan event, for which he was very well supported in the betting market. The Alan Fleming-trained Marakoush was a close second to Chesterfieldavenue over this course and distance in early November but ran out a fine winner at Punchestown two weeks later when making all the running under Adrian Heskin. Anibale Fly was a last-gasp winner at Navan three weeks ago and he represents Tony Martin and Barry Geraghty, while Danny Mullins takes the mount on Last Encounter which is trained by his mother, Mags. The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase is another race on the card to savour and it has attracted six runners. Willie Mullins’ Shaneshill impressed on his chasing debut at Thurles in November and this race sets up a fascinating clash with the Edward O'Grady-trained Kitten Rock who impressed so many on his first start over fences at Navan. Sizing Codelco was a good winner at the Listowel Festival but he has a little to prove as he only got as far as the first fence when tried in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices´ Chase at Sandown last time. Uranna, trained by Willie Mullins, looks the one to beat in the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Beginners Chase, while Robert Tyner’s Fairly Legal could take some catching in the Annual Membership at Naas Maiden Hurdle. Tom Ryan, General Manager of Naas Racecourse, commented: “Once again we are delighted with that standard of entries for Sunday’s card. The 2015 event broke the modern day attendance record here at Naas and we look forward to welcoming another large crowd to get 2016 off to a flying start. The racing focus has now turned to the spring festivals and Naas plays an important part in preparing horses for them. I’m sure a number of Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown Festival winners will be on show here in the coming weeks. The Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle has a particularly good record in that regard”.   For further information, contact Catherine Murray Sales & Marketing Manager, Naas Racecourse on 087 465 0761 or email [email protected]

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