Alderwood returns to Nass in an effort to book his ticket for Cheltenham hat-trick bid

Tom Mullins-trained star is a general 16/1 shot for Queen Mother Champion Chase and also holds a Ryanair entry

Alderwood’s last race at Naas in October left him with a hairline fracture to a pastern but a return to the Co Kildare track this Sunday could set him up for a potential Cheltenham Festival hat-trick in three weeks time. The Tom Mullins-trained star, winner of the County Hurdle and the Grand Annual Chase at the last two festivals, is one of just five entries left in the Grade Two Paddy Power-sponsored two-mile chase at the weekend.

Alderwood hasn't raced since picking up that injury but despite that is a general 16/1 shot for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham. He also holds a Ryanair entry.

Sunday’s other Grade Two heat at Naas is the Woodlands Park Nas Na Riogh Chase which sees four of the six remaining entries after yesterday’s five-day declarations owned by Gigginstown Stud. The quartet includes Mozoltov, currently 20/1 for the Arkle at Cheltenham, and 16/1 for the JLT Novice Chase, who last ran when third to Trifolium in the Leopardstown Arkle.

Today's action is at Punchestown where Upsie can resume winning ways for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh in the €20,000 mares conditions hurdle. Mullins also runs Urticaire who was behind Upsie when that 142-rated mare was fourth to Theatre Bird over Christmas. Since then Upsie has again finished fourth, to Rule The World, but this company looks easier.


Tom Foley’s Playing has been in fine form over fences since starting the season over flights and reverts to the smaller obstacles today in the second of the handicap hurdles.

Playing last won over flights fifteen months ago but his rating is now considerably lower than over fences and Ger Fox's claim help puts him on an attractive mark. Hell Cat Maggie can thrive on a slight increase in trip and get off the mark in the mares maiden hurdle.

One man absent from Punchestown is Davy Russell who instead will be at Doncaster to ride the possible Grand National contender Burton Port for owner Trevor Hemmings and trainer Jonjo O'Neill.

“Jonjo rang me the other day and asked me if I’d ride him. He’s 10, but he’s not had that much racing and as a lot of ability,” Russell said yesterday. “Doncaster’s a good track and I’m looking forward to it.”

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column