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Elliott expects Don hit at Naas

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18 December 2011; Don Cossack, with Nina Carberry up, on their way to winning the Irish Form Book 'Future Champions' Flat Race. Navan Racecourse, Navan, Co. Meath. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

18 December 2011; Don Cossack, with Nina Carberry up, on their way to winning the Irish Form Book 'Future Champions' Flat Race. Navan Racecourse, Navan, Co. Meath. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

18 December 2011; Don Cossack, with Nina Carberry up, on their way to winning the Irish Form Book 'Future Champions' Flat Race. Navan Racecourse, Navan, Co. Meath. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

THE last two horses to win Sunday's Grade Two paddypower.com Novice Hurdle and go to Cheltenham were Go Native and Felix Younger.

Go Native won the Supreme Novices' Hurdle for Noel Meade and Paul Carberry and Felix Younger finished second to the current Arkle favourite Simonsig in the Neptune Investments Novices' Hurdle.

This weekend's renewal at Naas looks to be an absolute belter with Gordon Elliott's Don Cossack, Paul Nolan's Defy Logic, Annie Power trained by Willie Mullins and the Brian Hamilton-trained Moscow Mannon all pitching up.

Needless to say, Naas are thrilled to have such a crop contesting the 2m race, although Cheltenham plans for all concerned will be shelved until after Sunday.

Don Cossack continues on his retrieval mission, having been well beaten when falling behind classy Pont Alexandre at Navan and then finishing a much more promising second to the ever-improving Mozoltov at Punchestown earlier in the month.

The Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old remains one of the most highly regarded novices in their growing ranks, and his trainer confirmed his charge to be well in himself ahead of his latest assignment.

 

Form

"He is in great form and he has come out of Punchestown very well," Elliott revealed. "We will keep him to two miles for the moment and he won't mind the soft ground. It looks a good race and we'd be hopeful of a big run from our lad."

As regards Cheltenham, the Grand National-winning trainer added: "He is in the Supreme Novices and the Neptune, but we'll get Sunday out of the way first before we make any further plans for him."

Paul Nolan has never made any secret of how highly he holds Defy Logic and the JP McManus-owned six-year-old has lived up to his lofty reputation on his two most recent outings.

In November he won a Fairyhouse bumper by 35 lengths and earlier this month he made a winning debut over hurdles at the same track by 34 lengths. He too holds an entry for Cheltenham and the Neptune, but like Elliott, Nolan is keeping his cards close to his chest prior to Sunday.

Wexford-based Nolan told the Herald: "We'll see how we get on on Sunday and we'll deal with Cheltenham after that.

"He was very good at Fairyhouse on his first start over hurdles, but to be honest with you it was no less than we expected. We were delighted with the way he done it and he does everything really right."

Ominously for Sunday's opposition, Nolan feels that Defy Logic has probably improved for his jumping debut.

"He had a small setback after winning his bumper which held him back a little bit and forced him to miss Christmas, therefore he didn't really get the benefit of his bumper run so we would be confident he has improved nicely since Fairyhouse."

Nolan concluded: "He looks a million dollars and is in good nick so all being well we will be in Naas on Sunday.

"It's a big step up as the likes of Don Cossack have invaluable experience and we are coming from maiden company but he jumps well and we are very hopeful of a big run."

Trainer Hamilton wasn't ruling out a return to Cheltenham for Moscow Mannon who finished fourth in last season's Champion Bumper there, but admitted to the Herald this morning that a stop-start season could see him stay at home.

Moscow Mannon, like Defy Logic, has only raced once over hurdles, that coming with a maiden win at Navan in December, and six weeks after he was supposed to run in the Slaney Hurdle at Naas, the seven-year-old will finally get to make a second outing.

"We haven't had the ideal preparation, I'd have liked to have had a run into him a couple of weeks ago and while I haven't ruled Cheltenham out, he will need to go and run very, very well to be considering going to Cheltenham with him. It's a fact-finding mission on Sunday," Hamilton said.

"It's his first run against the big boys and he lacks a bit of experience, we are not going there with high hopes but we still have a decent horse and we just have to see what way we go."

The County Down handler explained the complications of the season so far: "Last year we got a great run with him and never had any problem all the way through, but he scoped dirty 10 days before the Slaney Hurdle at Naas and there was no chance of running in that and we were set to run three weeks ago but he hurt himself in the box going to gallop so that knocked that out."

Having been declared this morning with regular rider Declan Lavery reclaiming the ride from Andrew Lynch, who deputised while Lavery was sidelined, it is now all systems go for Moscow Mannon in what looks a top class renewal of the paddypower.com Novice Hurdle, a race worth the entry fee alone on Sunday.


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