Battleoverdoyen is firmly on course for the Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle at Naas on January 6, after featuring among 44 entries for the Grade One contest.
Gordon Elliott won the 2017 renewal with Death Duty and is keen to target contest with the unbeaten Battleoverdoyen, who was most impressive on his hurdling debut at Navan over the weekend.
The Meath trainer said: “We’ve 11 entries in the race, but the horse that won at Navan the other day, Battleoverdoyen, will definitely come here.
“We were delighted to get him started over hurdles at Navan last weekend. I felt he improved from his bumper and hopefully he can improve again from his maiden hurdle to Naas.”
He added: “We have entered a good few for the race and we’ll see what happens over Christmas before making any definite plans as to what will run with Battleoverdoyen.
“There’s a good chance Defi Bleu could go there. He ran a nice race at Navan and is still learning all the time.
“Commander Of Fleet would also be a possible runner. I was happy with his run in the Royal Bond. We always knew that two miles would be too short for him, but he stayed on really well and I’m looking forward to stepping him out in trip again.
“Naas is a very fair track and normally the best horse always wins, and there are no excuses. It’s a track we like running our horses at.
“The race fits in well because there is no race in Leopardstown over the trip. It’s a Grade One and a nice race to win.”
Punchestown Champion Bumper winner Tornado Flyer is the star name in Willie Mullins’ squad, but is far from a certain starter.
Mullins has won the race three times since it was upgraded to top-level status and is responsible for 12 of the initial entries, which were revealed on Tuesday.
Also among the Clossuton possibles is the highly-regarded Annamix, who has yet to make his hurdling debut for Mullins but is already a leading fancy for the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Mullins – who pinpointed Pat Fahy’s recent winner Dunvegan as potentially the horse to beat – said: “I’m looking at Come To Me, who won well the other day in Cork. Dorrells Pierji has been good all season and he could go there.
“Pat Fahy’s horse Dunvegan was very good the other day and he’s a horse that’s going to take a lot of beating wherever he goes.
“Tornado Flyer won the other day, but I’m not sure I want to go two-and-a-half, I’ll probably stick to two miles.
“Sancta Simona is one that could go that direction, while Getareason, who was second in Navan is another possible, as well as Aramon.
“I’m hoping to be well represented. It’s a real good race, where it sits in the calendar, over two and a half miles at that time of season.”
Local trainers Oliver McKiernan and Philip Dempsey have entered their recent winners Gallant John Joe and Derrinross, while Naas maiden hurdle winner Rhinestone is part of a strong team of entries for in-form trainer Joseph O’Brien.
Racecourse manager Tom Ryan said: “I think you could be forgiven for thinking that this year’s renewal of the Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle could be the most competitive yet.
“We are delighted with both the quantity and quality of the entries for the race.”
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