Thursday 14 December 2017

Death Duty can prevail at 'Punters' Graveyard'

Jack Kennedy: rides Death Duty. Photo: Sportsfile
Jack Kennedy: rides Death Duty. Photo: Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Naas stages just one Grade One card per year - not enough, considering the quality of this venue - but that sole occasion is one to savour tomorrow.

Death Duty is the star of the cast, put in by Paddy Power at 4/7 in the feature event, but it is not a formality. Moreover, the lesser races captivate at the track questionably known also as 'The Punters' Graveyard'.

This Lawlor's Hotel Novice Hurdle is nearly monopolised by the major forces in jumps combat right now: Gigginstown (half the field), Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins (a third apiece). Such is the depth of the sextet, the ultra-promising Bel Ami De Sivola is 33/1!

Death Duty, trading at 9/4 for Cheltenham's Albert Bartlett, ought to prevail. He looked to be realising his hurdling potential at Navan, yet chasing is going to bring this horse to another level in theory. Perhaps he can become Gold Cup quality.

Augusta Kate, owned by a syndicate that includes Lee Westwood and Alan Shearer, is the choice of Ruby Walsh. However, stablemate Turcagua has a crucial jumping edge and is put forward as a value alternative to Death Duty.

The €21,000 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase could be a Grade Two. American Tom, one of the best-looking jumpers in training, can only take to this venue better than he did when jumping to his left at Punchestown. Former stablemate Stone Hard has gotten his act together; rampant last time, he's feared.

Noel Meade inherited Art Of Security from Sandra Hughes and, nicely backed, he ran a huge race at Leopardstown. A similar performance may do in the opener, though he was expected to come on from that.

The betting could be volatile in the Eastcoast Seafood & Gouldings Hardware Handicap Chase. Pulled Mussel might have upwards of a stone in hand but has no chance on his chase form. Robert Tyner may have him right, in which case the two stone he gets off Velocity Boy will be more than enough.

Adrian Joyce is double-handed in the conditionals' event, Rock On Rosie of more intrigue. Slowmotion should take the Rushes Supervalu & Lemongrass Restaurant EBF Mares Beginners' Chase.

The Tuckmill Gallery, Aria Boutique & Jingles Hat Hire (Pro/Am) Flat Race fascinates. Robbie McNamara gave Cosmo's Moon a big mention recently but Le Richebourg must be feared.

Cork's McCarthy Insurance Group-sponsored card today can see Veinard go one better in the opener for Gordon Elliott, who can strike in the maiden chase with the classy General Principle, Blazer the danger.

That one's trainer, Willie Mullins, attacks Mallow with heavy artillery and French-breds, Chateau Conti and Bon Papa, are hard to oppose in their maiden hurdle assignments.

Willie's brother, Tom, has been in superb form this term. Under his tutelage, Scoir Mear has progressed over two stone in the weights; he may achieve one last hurdling win this year in the handicap hurdle.

The handicap chase is difficult. Sumos Novios, a strapping jumper not seen in the guts of a year, can go to war fresh and his big weight will be no major concern, course victor Toushan a solid alternative.

West Coast Time's silks are rarely seen in bumpers but Drumconnor Lad, well-backed at Leopardstown, is preferred.

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