Bellshill eases home to complete Naas double for Willie Mullins
Ruby Walsh guides both 5-2 favourite and Shaneshill to wins in quick succession
Bellshill took the grade one Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle at Naas. Photograph: Inpho
Bellshill had little difficulty landing the odds in the Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle at Naas.
The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old made it three out of three over the smaller obstacles as he dispensed of his four rivals in emphatic fashion.
Last Encounter set the pace with Bellshill and Stone Hard tracking the leader in the early stages. While Stone Hard weakened tamely out of contention before being pulled up, Bellshill (2-5 favourite) cruised alongside Last Encounter at the second last in the hands of a confident Ruby Walsh.
From then on the issue was not in doubt and Bellshill pulled five lengths clear of the long-time leader to claim this Grade One over two and a half miles.
It was a quickfire double for Mullins, Walsh and owners Graham and Andrea Wylie following Shaneshill’s success in the previous race.
Mullins said: “He might need to brush up his jumping a bit. His jumping has been fantastic up to now, and I’d give him the benefit of the doubt and say it was due to idling in front on that very testing ground.
“He’s progressing nicely and has a huge cruising speed. He’ll probably go next for the Deloitte at Leopardstown (on February 6th).”
Bookmaker Paddy Power trimmed Bellshill to 9-2 favourite from 5s for the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham while Boyesports now quote him at 3-1.
Earlier Shaneshill overcame a mistake at the second last to take his unbeaten record over fences to two in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase.
Successful at Thurles five weeks ago, Shaneshill (4-7 favourite) followed up in good style despite giving his supporters a scare when he pecked on landing at the penultimate obstacle.
Walsh quickly gathered up the Mullins-trained seven-year-old, who sealed victory with a much better jump at the last.
Sizing Codelco kept on for second place but was four and a half lengths down at the line. Kitten Rock was 16 lengths away in third.
Mullins said: “He gave me a fright at the second last and again at the last. Ruby really asked him at the last, and at least he was slick under pressure.
“I was surprised how much speed he showed against good horses, and I’m very happy with him.
“The Grade One at Leopardstown (on February 6th) would look the obvious target time-wise. He might just need a bit more practice on a racetrack.”
Shaneshill was trimmed to 5-1 favourite, from 8-1, for the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham with Betfred.
Meanwhile All You Need made a pleasing debut over fences when running out a tidy winner of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase at Naas.
All You Need (2-1) asserted after jumping the last, drawing away to score by two and a half lengths from Melbourne Lady.
Curragh Na Gold was nine and a half lengths away third but odds-on favourite Uranna flopped in fourth.
Fleming said: “She jumped well for her first time. She travelled very well, and should have no bother winning a few more chases.
“I’ve no real plan at the moment but in that ground I’d say we’ll keep her to two miles. She’d have no problem going up another half-mile on better ground.”