Could Grangeclare West be yet another class act for Willie Mullins? “He has a huge engine”:
Sunday: 2.20 Naas
Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) | 2m3f212y | 5yo+
The last seven favorites have won this Grade 1 race, including Bob Olinger and Envoi Allen, who went on to win the Ballymore. Grangeclare West will be trying to continue that pattern.
Willie Mullins, who has won this race eight times, could have run Gaelic Warrior, who finished second to Boodles and won at Tramore by 86 lengths in his only start this season.
He is not in the lineup at all, and Mullins has chosen Grangeclare West to lead his challenge instead. In November, the unbeaten seven-year-old won his first hurdles race at Navan by 13 lengths after sprinting clear of the last. At the time, it looked like a hot maiden, but it doesn’t anymore.
Since then, the second and third horses have lost, and none of the 12 horses that left the race and ran again have won. Grangeclare West, on the other hand, could only win, and he did so with skill.
The son of Presenting scored at Navan with a Racing Post Rating of 140, 5 pounds less than Dawn Rising’s victory over American Mike in the Grade 3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle on the same day.
The time comparison is the most interesting aspect. Dawn Rising beat Grangeclare West by 3.8 seconds to win the 2m4f maiden hurdle in a time of 5min 17.20sec. Take what you want from that. Despite the fact that they were different races that were run in different ways, it’s still fascinating to see the six-year-old trained by Joseph O’Brien win in a shorter amount of time and at a higher price.
Dawn Rising appears to be a foregone conclusion. On his final Flat start, the son of Galileo defeated Al Aasy in the Bahrain Trophy, earning a rating of 102. Expect him to return strongly given that there appears to be a lot of pace here. When he scored late at Navan, he defied Betfair’s in-running high of 499-1.
When it appeared that Affordale Fury had won his argument with American Mike, he dropped to evens in the same race and finished last. Could he have been overlooked here?
You could certainly argue that Irish Point is the best form. Last time, he was close to winning the Royal Bond, but Supreme-bound Marine Nationale caught him too late. Given that this was only his second start over hurdles, he put in a strong effort, and he could be even better over this longer distance. Gordon Elliott, who has won four of the last six races, must have a big chance with him.
Paul Townend admitted that he was surprised by the manner in which he won the maiden hurdle at Navan in November, describing his jumping as “brilliant,” and he named West Grangeclare West as his primary threat to the race.
With McKinley in 2015 and Next Destination three years later, Townend has won this race twice. The five-time champion jockey believes that Inothewayurthinkin could be his biggest threat.
Townend stated, “This is a hot race every year and fits in well with the calendar. Grangeclare West won a competitive maiden hurdle at Navan and the manner in which he won it surprised us after being off the track for so long. He jumped brilliantly that day and did things right. I think he has a huge engine. He missed a lot of time after winning at Punchestown in May of 2021 but he seems to be fine now and I hope we can make up for lost time.”
Townend added in his Ladbrokes blog post: “Irish Point was second in the Royal Bond and that is a high level of form to bring here. I do like Inothewayurthinkin. He beat me quite snugly at Cork when I rode Lot Of Joy and then did well to get up to beat Imagine at Gowran in a slowly run race the last day. I think the step up in trip will suit him as well. I hope I’m on the right one and it will be a cracking renewal.”