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Gordon Elliott’s Chemical Energy to soar at Naas as Willie Mullins can hit landmark with winner number 4,000


Trainer Willie Mullins is chasing his 4,000th worldwide winner this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

Trainer Willie Mullins is chasing his 4,000th worldwide winner this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

Trainer Willie Mullins is chasing his 4,000th worldwide winner this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

Chemical Energy was not a guaranteed stayer when sluicing up at Cheltenham in October and the step up to three miles seems to have unlocked bags of improvement from Gordon Elliott’s charge.

Subsequent winner Mahler Mission was beaten up a stick in second that day at the Cotswolds, so the form has worked out favourably and Davy Russell’s mount sets a decent standard in tomorrow’s Grade Three Finlay Ford At Naas Novice Chase (12.57) at Naas.

Willie Mullins has landed three of the last four renewals – including with subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Stattler 12 months ago – and he relies on Thurles winner Ramillies this time.

Thedevilscoachman adds another touch of class to the contest, but Noel Meade’s seven-year-old is on a retrieval mission after falling in the Drinmore and Chemical Energy can make it three from three en route to the Cheltenham Festival in March.

There are question marks over most of the contenders in the Grade Three Naas Racecourse Business Club Limestone Lad Hurdle (2.42), with Bob Olinger disappointing over Christmas at Leopardstown when heavily fancied in the Christmas Hurdle.

If returning to something like his best, this drop to two miles should be well within the grasp of Henry de Bromhead’s charge, but that is far from a given, while the consistent Darasso is a much more reliable prospect.

Joseph O’Brien’s charge is forced to give away significant weight to all of his rivals, though, and a chance is taken on Echoes In Rain. Mullins’ seven-year-old has always threatened to be a Grade One performer and she was travelling sweetly enough in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle before hitting the deck two from home.

She may be ready to finally put her best foot forward under Paul Townend, while the Fairyhouse feature today sees Elliott’s Halka Du Tabert trying to follow in much-vaunted hoof prints.

Honeysuckle prevailed in the 2019 edition of the Grade Three Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle (2.11) on her way to superstardom and the same sky blue and white silks are represented once again by Halka Du Tabert.

The six-year-old is three from three in her career and oozed class at Naas before Christmas, but the Mullins pair of Ashroe Diamond and Saylavee set a high bar and this may be one for punters to sit back and enjoy rather than putting hands in their pockets.

This promises to be a special weekend for the all-conquering Closutton maestro as he sits one success away from hitting another famous milestone of 4,000 worldwide winners.

The most likely headline maker is the warm-order Bronn in the opening beginners’ chase (12.26) at the Meath track on a day when he also saddles the brilliant Energumene in the Grade One Clarence House Chase (1.20) at Cheltenham.

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