Death Duty steps up to the highest level at Naas
Annie Power among seven Willie Mullins entries for Grade One at Leopardstown on January 29th
Bryan Cooper winning at Navan on Death Duty. The dual bumper winner made an impressive start to his career over jumps at Roscommon in October, and has since completed a hat-trick with successive wins at Navan. Photograph: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Death Duty is the star name amongst six horses declared for the Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle at Naas on Sunday.
Gordon Elliott’s dual bumper winner made an impressive start to his career over jumps at Roscommon in October, and has since completed a hat-trick with successive wins at Navan.
The six-year-old steps up to the highest level for the first time, with Jack Kennedy taking over in the saddle from the sidelined Bryan Cooper.
Death Duty is one of three runners for leading owners Gigginstown House Stud. Stable companion Blood Crazed Tiger bids for a fifth successive win under David Mullins, while Bel Ami Sivola chases a four-timer for trainer Noel Meade and jockey Sean Flanagan.
Willie Mullins has saddled six previous winners of this Grade One contest, including the last three.
This year Mullins fires a twin assault with impressive Punchestown scorer Turcagua joined by talented mare Augusta Kate. The Enda Bolger-trained Stand Up And Fight completes the select field.
The brilliant nine-year-old won the race 12 months ago, but he has since been sidelined with a suspensory problem that ruled him out of his defence of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last season.
“I want to get them out as soon as I can,” Mullins told the Daily Mirror. “Annie Power has two options – she also has the race at Punchestown [a 2½-mile mares’ hurdle] that she won last year – before going to Cheltenham. But it would be Faugheen’s last chance before Cheltenham. They are both well – both are riding out and doing plenty.”
He was a close second to Royal Regatta at Ascot in a Grade Two before looking sure to collect in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup only to fade up the hill.
“Kylemore Lough will either go to Thurles on the 19th for the graded chase or to Ascot for a handicap,” said Lee.“It was galling at Cheltenham last time out; he had the wind taken out of his sails at the third last. ”