Bob Olinger tops market for first Grade One of the year at Naas

Gavin Cromwell’s Gabynako looks a good value bet in rearranged race

Trainer Gavin Cromwell runs Gabynako in Wednesday’s Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle at the Co Kildare track. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Trainer Gavin Cromwell runs Gabynako in Wednesday’s Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle at the Co Kildare track. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Ireland’s first Grade One prize of 2021 is set for Naas on Wednesday. The €80,000 Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle is the centrepiece of a card called off at the weekend due to a frozen track.

Now the emphasis will be on ultra-testing ground conditions for the eight runners bidding to step up to the top flight.

Unlike last year’s exceptional winner Envoi Allen, none of them has previously struck at the top level.

It makes for a much more competitive prospect than Envoi Allen’s long odds-on rout a year ago, although Bob Olinger looks set to top the betting.

Henry de Bromhead’s exciting prospect impressed many with his maiden hurdle success at Navan last month.

It came on the back of previously having shaken up the champion bumper performer Ferny Hollow at Gowran.

The latter’s stable companion Blue Lord is Willie Mullins’s sole representative and boasts a reputation not quite backed up by the bare form of his winning Irish debut in November.

In terms of accomplishment Ashdale Bob looks the one to beat having landed a Grade Two at Navan where he finished less than seven lengths ahead of Gabynako.

The pair clash again here and if Gabynako doesn’t repeat the free-running inclination he showed at Navan, Gavin Cromwell’s charge could represent a touch of betting value.

Envoi Allen is on course to put his unbeaten record on the line in Sunday’s Grade Three Skybet Killiney Novice Chase at Punchestown.

Gordon Elliott’s star is one of 11 entries left in the race after Tuesday’s forfeit stage.

They also include the Mick Winters-trained Chatham Street Lad although that popular runner is also in the previous day’s Dan & Joan Moore Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse.

Chatham Street Lad was a wide-margin winner of a big handicap at Cheltenham last month.

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