Cossack to lead Moscow home
Tomorrow's seven-race spread at Naas promises to be an absolute treat for racegoers and punters alike.
Willie Mullins may have his customary couple of short-priced favourites early on, but the rest of the card looks genuinely competitive.
The pick of the lot on the Paddy Power-sponsored programme is the Grade Two Novice Hurdle, with Mullins' unbeaten Annie Power pitted against Don Cossack, Defy Logic and Moscow Mannon. Three less precocious, but nonetheless able sorts – The Tullow Tank, Art Of Logistics and Diplomat – complete a cracking line-up for this €41,500 contest.
Given how Annie Power's form was franked in grand style by her nearest Clonmel victim Dressedtothenines at Punchestown on Wednesday, she cannot be readily discounted.
Paul Nolan's JP McManus-owned Defy Logic, so rampant on its hurdle bow at Fairyhouse, is one of two that AP McCoy flies in to ride for his boss, but Don Cossack (right) and Moscow Mannon might be poised to fight this one out.
Both have competed at a high level, though Moscow Mannon's only run over hurdles for Brian Hamilton came when he won at the first time of asking at Navan early in December. While he is respected, the more experienced Don Cossack is preferred.
Granted, Gordon Elliott's oversized Gigginstown Stud-owned six-year-old has been a shade disappointing of late, but his length defeat to the Willie Mullin-trained Mozoltov at Punchestown was no bad effort.
He remains a very exciting long-term prospect, so he is fancied to get back to winning ways under Davy Russell.
McCoy can pay for his journey on the Mullins-trained Upsie, a dual French bumper-winning mare which tackles the opening maiden hurdle. The Closutton handler might also take the Woodlands Park 100 Club Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase with the Ruby Walsh-ridden Mikael D'Haguenet, whose jumping frailties may not be exposed here.
Ballyadam Brook, representing in-form trainer Terence O'Brien, and Nolan's Sweeney Tunes are no slouches at their best.
Still, it's hard to oppose Mikael D'Haguenet against inferior opposition after his polished Thurles success last month.
Mullins and Walsh rely on Call The Police in the Grade Two chase, which also numbers Realt Dubh and today's Fairyhouse declaration Roi Du Mee among five runners.
Days Hotel, undone by a bad blunder at Thurles last time, might just shade the spoils for Henry de Bromhead and Andrew Lynch on this drop back to his optimum distance. The lightly-raced eight-year-old was previously unbeaten in three over two miles and he will relish the testing going.
The day's nap vote goes to course winner Beneficial Spirit in the two-mile handicap hurdle.
Philip Rothwell's 10-year-old found only the well-treated Tennis Cap too strong at Naas last month, having previously won a very decent handicap chase at the same track off a mark of 107. He gets in here off 103, a figure that becomes even more appealing when you factor in the 7lb allowance of his rider Andrew Ring.