Thursday 14 December 2017

Any Second Now can justify Mullins' Festival swerve with Naas success

Willie Mullins. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Willie Mullins. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Willie Mullins has a general rule: do not run horses within three weeks of their last appearance.

On occasion he deviates - sometimes we take the detour route - but it follows that Naas' offering tomorrow, branded in recent years as a 'Cheltenham trials day' is really nothing of the sort. It falls too close to the festival for most aspirants.

Nonetheless, as ever at Naas, the card is compelling and we can park Prestbury Park thoughts for the time being. Cheltenham might have been briefly considered for Any Second Now but, siding with pragmatism, connections looked beyond the horizon.

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This exciting Oscar-bred eschews the boat and likely wins the feature Paddy Power Onside App Novice Hurdle instead. This is a pretty perfect next step on the ladder for Ted Walsh's horse.

As Grade Twos go, it is decent, but he looks progressive enough to win. Still a little green, running rather in snatches, he overcame inexperience to win at Punchestown last time - possibly the best form on offer.

Barry Geraghty will be looking forward to steering Any Second now for the first time.

The startling aspect of the Grade Three We Show All Live Racing Steeplechase is Henry de Bromhead's record. Days Hotel's prowess in this event means that De Bromhead seeks his fourth win in five editions, this time with Alisier D'irlande.

Highly talented on his day, Alisier D'irlande has had a hit-and-miss time of it in Ireland. Most recently he ran over hurdles at Navan, shaping a bit better than the bare result. Perhaps he can lead them a dance now back chasing.

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The Woodlands 100 Club Nas Na Riogh Novice Handicap Steeplechase can be a pointer for high-class glory in the future. Indeed, Empire Of Dirt snared this two years ago. Velocity Boy is interesting over the distance for Barry Cash, but Space Cadet is preferred. Things went badly awry at Leopardstown last time but that was a proper race and he should jump better now.

Kolumbus is a hopeful pick to take the opening maiden hurdle. Blast Of Koeman would be the pick in the handicap hurdle if they were racing the other way but, at this left-handed venue, recent course winner Dylrow gets the nod.

Likely Larry Capri still has a bit to spare from the handicapper and he can take the staying handicap chase.

There was a nice gamble on the winning pointer at Fairyhouse late in January, where he proved much too strong for a quite reliable rival in Paper Lantern. Dermot McLoughlin's horse can surely win more races.

Lisa O'Neill can continue her fine run in the bumper aboard Monbeg Worldwide - Gigginstown's runner did not exactly impress in his Cork victory in October, though the runner-up is a useful horse.

This is a modest contest considering the fine winners in the past decade, including Rite Of Passage, Samain, Outlander and Killultagh Vic.

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