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Ginger Joe - Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle Preview

Publish Date: 06/01/2024
Fact checked by: James Leeland
Key Points
  • The Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle
  • A preview of this weekend’s highlight race
  • Cheltenham insights to be revealed here?

My Lawlor’s Of Naas preview and verdict

Racing fans, we have some serious Grade 1 action coming from Naas on Sunday and here I have a full preview for the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle. We have a fascinating line up and the result of this weekend’s biggest race may well give us some pointers towards the Cheltenham Festival, so make sure you are tuned in at 14:00 on Sunday.

As well as going through the runners, at the end of today's article I’ll also give you my verdict on how I think this race will finish and here’s a little clue - I’m taking on the favourite!

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14:00 - The Lawlor's Of Naas Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f

We have an absolutely fascinating contest here and the result of this race may give us more of an indication about some Cheltenham Festival targets too, including my ante post selection, Croke Park, who I’m hoping will perform well.

Betting odds

  • Firefox @ 2/1 Il Atlantique @ 11/4
  • Croke Park @ 7/1An Tobar @ 7/1
  • Chapeau De Soleil @ 9/1
  • Mystical Power @ 12/1
  • Lecky Watson @ 14/1
  • Readin Tommy Wrong @ 33/1

The Lawlor’s runners

Firefox heads the betting and represents the number one string for the Gordon Elliott team. I have to say that he is a lovely gelding and was very impressive on his Hurdles debut at Fairyhouse. I liked the way he moved throughout the race, and he was very straightforward too. In addition, he beat one of the highly-regarded Mullins’ horses, Ballyburn, that day, who subsequently went on to win next time out. So, Firefox genuinely has to be respected on his second start over Hurdles and he is going to be tough to beat, especially while he is still open to plenty of improvement.

Il Atlantique is the second favourite here and finished second to Firefox in a Bumper last season, but Il Atlantique looks to have improved plenty since then and won very nicely indeed on his Hurdles debut, so I think that he still has plenty more to show us. He won on heavy ground at Gowran and even though he was entitled to win at odds of 4/9, I just liked the way he looked in that race and gut feeling tells me this could be his chance to really make a name for himself.

An Tobar is a horse who has a big reputation, but it was disappointing to see how little he found when under pressure in the Royal Bond. He may appreciate going up half a furlong here, but I still think he needs to go further and he wouldn’t be my idea of the winner here. He isn’t to be underestimated, but he seems to lack gears and may be seen to best effect when he goes up to three miles.

Croke Park is a horse that I am really fond of and this lad has a very bright future in my opinion. He was second on debut in his only Bumper start but won well when he went over Hurdles next time out over a trip that was clearly too short for him. He moves very easily and he is probably going to be a very nice Chaser in time, but he can do plenty of damage as a Novice Hurdler in the interim. For his second start over Hurdles, he went up to the two-and-a-half-mile trip and he was very impressive indeed, pulling away at the finish. He seems to do all of his best work late on and when he goes up to three miles, he's sure to improve again. He really does look like an out and out three-miler in the making and I have recently put him up as an ante post bet for the Albert Bartlett at a double-figure price.

Chapeau De Soleil is another nicely-profiled horse who could still be open to plenty. He was largely disappointing in his two Bumpers, but he did win well enough on his Hurdles debut at Clonmel to suggest he could have turned a corner. That being said, it was a very average field and he is taking on a lot more here.

Mystical Power is a son of Annie Power and he is a lovely sort too, but he is hard to figure out. He surprised Willie Mullins on debut and you can read into that what you wish, but he is here with a chance if he can build on that performance.

Lecky Watson might be improving, but I’d be incredibly surprised if he was to win this race, or even get near the leaders to be honest.

Readin Tommy Wrong I think this is entirely the wrong race for this horse and the amount he would need to improve to get involved here is currently beyond his scope.

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The Ginger Joe verdict

This is going to be a very intriguing race, but I do have an idea of how this will play out. I think Mystical Power may surprise a few here and run a big race, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit the places, but he may have to settle for fourth behind Croke Park, who I think is the most solid horse in this race. He is getting better the further he goes and he is sure to be there or thereabouts at the finish. Hopefully this is just a stepping stone for him before he heads to the Albert Bartlett.

Firefox clearly sets the standard and a repeat effort of his Hurdles debut would see him as the one to beat, but Il Atlantique is the one open to improvement here. Il Atlantique has been a little weak in the market, but I actually think he deserves to go off favourite and the fact that Townend is on board tells us a lot. For me, he is the one with the best chance here, so I say Il Atlantique to take the Lawlor’s Of Naas on Sunday.

My Lawlor’s Of Naas predictions

  1. Il Atlantique
  2. Firefox
  3. Croke Park
  4. Mystical Power

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