Grand Mogol to use stiff test as a Festival indicator

A total of 20 horses were entered for next Thursday's Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Novice Grade Three Novice Hurdle at Clonmel yesterday on the same afternoon that the entries were revealed for the three novice contests at the Cheltenham Festival.

Willie Mullins, naturally, holds a very strong hand in both with the champion trainer responsible for almost half of the Clonmel field, while he has entered an incredible 18 in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, 24 in the Neptune Investments Novices' Hurdle and 21 in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.

Trainer Liz Doyle has included Kauto Star's brother Kauto Grand Mogol at Clonmel next week and he is also entered in the Neptune Investments Novices' Hurdle and the Wexford trainer will see how he fares next week before confirming him for the Cheltenham Festival.

"Kauto Grand Mogol is very well," Doyle said. "He will go to Clonmel for the Grade Three next week and then we will decide about Cheltenham."

The seven-year-old made a winning start over hurdles but was no match for Free Expression at Navan before returning to winning ways in good style at Thurles last month.

"I am hoping we can draw a line through his run at Navan because he never travelled or jumped and was beaten a long way out.

"His performance in Thurles the next day suggested Navan wasn't his true running and, if that's proved the case, he is definitely on the upgrade.

"Clonmel is a stiff two mile six furlongs and it will be interesting to see what he can do back in Graded company.

"He did not look short of gears at Thurles but his pedigree suggests he will stay three miles and we hope he will."

Owners Gigginstown House Stud are responsible for seven of the entries in next Thursday's race, while the Leopardstown bumper and Naas maiden hurdle winner Russian Bill could seek to continue his progression for Noel Meade.

The Supreme Novices' Hurdle has attracted 38 Irish entries, while there's 44 from these shores in the Neptune and 42 in the Albert Bartlett.

Entries were also released for the JCB Triumph Hurdle yesterday in which a total of 70 horses were given the option, 15 of which are Irish trained, four trained by Gordon Elliott who won the race last year with Tiger Roll and four trained by Willie Mullins.

Meanwhile, Champagne Fever is also among the entries at Clonmel next week with Willie Mullins entering him in the 2m4f Patsy O'Brien Memorial Chase where he could face the Gordon Elliott-trained Grade One winner Roi Du Mee.