Leading Cheltenham Festival hopes Samcro
and Next Destination are set to clash in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle at
Gordon Elliott and champion trainer Willie
Mullins appear to be going all out to secure the first Grade 1 of 2018 and both
are set to have more than one runner in the race. Elliott is an odds-on
favourite to secure his first Irish National Hunt Trainers Championship after
the busy Christmas racing schedule during which he sent out 14 winners,
including Apple’s Jade, Shattered Love and Mick Jazz at Grade 1 level.
The €90,000 contest has been a target for
Samcro, clear favourite for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in
March, since his success in the Monksfield Hurdle at Navan in November and
trainer Gordon Elliott has indicated that his unbeaten six-year-old could be
joined by more than one other from his Cullentra House Stables. In all Elliott
has left eight horses in the two-and-a-half-mile contest.
Willie Mullins could run as many as three
in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle and leading his challenge is Next
Destination, already a winner at Naas this season and successful in the Grade 2
Navan Novice Hurdle last month. Next Destination heads the ante post betting
for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and his trainer is
chasing his third win in the race. Mullins could also be represented by the
Gowran Park maiden hurdle winner Carter McKay and Duc Des Geniervres, a winner
over hurdles in France last May.
Noel Meade is set to run Moyross in
Sunday's feature and Joseph O'Brien has the option of running Speak Easy.
Jessica Harrington could yet be represented by Jetez.