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Willie Mullins makes history with century at Naas

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McKinley and Paul Townend (blue cap) coming to take Tell Us More (Bryan Cooper) and Free Expression (AP McCoy) in the "Lawlor Hotel Novice Hurdle" at Naas

McKinley and Paul Townend (blue cap) coming to take Tell Us More (Bryan Cooper) and Free Expression (AP McCoy) in the "Lawlor Hotel Novice Hurdle" at Naas

McKinley and Paul Townend (blue cap) coming to take Tell Us More (Bryan Cooper) and Free Expression (AP McCoy) in the "Lawlor Hotel Novice Hurdle" at Naas

Most going to Naas yesterday for the tracks first ever Grade One meeting had an opinion on which of the two unbeaten records would remain intact following the Lawlors Hotel Novice Hurdle.

Few were bold enough to predict that neither Tell Us More or Free Expression would return home unbeaten.

Tell Us More was one of three Willie Mullins trained and Gigginstown House Stud owned runners in the seven-strong field and he was also the odds on favourite after two fairly facile wins at Gowran Park on his only two outings on the track.

But he could only manage to fill the runner-up spot as Mullins claimed his 100th Grade One winner in Ireland courtesy of the unheralded Mckinley.

Bryan Cooper and Tell Us More set out to make all the running in the 2m4f contest with Gordon Elliott's unbeaten Grade Two winner Free Expression and AP McCoy following in second and while it looked like the market leaders would do battle up the straight, 33/1 shot Mckinley was always closing under Paul Townend and eventually as Tell Us More clearly had Free Expression held, Mckinley finished well to turn over the favourite by three-parts of a length.

PULLING UP

Mullins, who was training his 130th Grade One winner, admitted that Mckinley was a last minute inclusion in the race after last been seen pulling up in the Future Champions Novices' Hurdle at Leopardstown just over a week earlier.

"This is fella was improving all the time but I didn't think he would improve that much," Mullins admitted afterwards.

"I've been delighted with him at all stages and I only threw him in at the last second. I had the other two declared and I just decided to run him at the last second as I said to myself 'where else am I going to go with him' and now he has come out and done it."

Mullins said that nothing serious came to light after the horse pulled up suddenly under Townend at Leopardstown.

"Paul gave him a great ride and at least the improvement I have been seeing at home has been vindicated now.

"Paul pulled him up at Leopardstown as he said he was lame and that was disappointing as we lost two runners in a Grade One in fifty yards (Nichols Canyon fell) but he must have just hit himself or tweaked a nerve or something on that occasion.

Reflecting on runner-up Tell Us More, the champion trainer commented: "He jumped great, raced great but probably just had to do all the donkey work out in front and that probably just told on him.

"He beat off Free Expression who was the horse we thought we would jump and stay as well as but possibly Mckinley's flat experience (Curragh maiden winner) might have paid off in the end. Tell Us More had three wins but probably didn't have to fight or battle in any one of them and it was just inexperience maybe."

Speaking after winning the mares beginners chase on Robert Tyner's Whatwillwecallher, AP McCoy admitted he was " a little disappointed" with Free Expression but suggested something may have been amiss.

positives

"He finished off his race but tended to lean in behind for whatever reason - hopefully there is a reason."

Trainer Gordon Elliott was taking the positives from the run of the six-year-old.

The in-form trainer said later in the day: "He ran a good race. AP said he hung in the whole way. He was only beaten a length and a half and galloped on the whole way to the line."

Discussing future plans for his trio Mullins said: "I will look at the Deliotte at Leopardstown for Mckinley and Tell Us More and Killer Crow probably wants further."

The 33/1 upset in the big race of the day would have came as no surprise to regular visitors to Naas which is renowned as ' the punters' graveyard' and there was plenty of evidence of that in the first two races as 1/7 favourite Fort Smith could only finish third in the opener which was won by Lisclogher Lad, while Blood Cotil, the 1/1 favourite for the novice chase, could only finish third also as Sizing Granite battled hard to set up a possible tilt at Cheltenham's Arkle for trainer Henry de Bromhead.

Trainer Robert Tyner continued his good run of form as Leap Dearg completed a hat-trick in the handicap chase and Whatwillwecallher defied a 1,148 day absence to complete the brace.

Tyner was just glad to get the talented JP McManus owned mare back on track and has no real definite plans for her in the near future.

"It took a while with her as she had a few niggly problems and fair play to Mr McManus for being so patient," Tyner said.

"I had her ready to go at the end of the season last year but the ground went on us. I don't know why it took so long this season - maybe because she was off so long."

A modern day record of 5,462 attended Naas yesterday.


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