Naas Racecourse launched the Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle this evening
at Lawlor’s Hotel in Naas, Co. Kildare.
The launch, which was hosted by Naas Racecourse Manager, Tom Ryan was
attended by a mixture of racing fans, members of the press, fashionistas, and
local traders. The fixture will take
place on Sunday, 8th of January and is the Kildare track’s premier
fixture. A Grade 1 contest, it boasts an
impressive roll call of past champions including Carvill’s Hill and Ventana Canyon.
Recent renewals of the Novice Hurdle have featured top-class performers such as
Champagne Fever, Mikael D’Haguenet, as well as two Grand National
winners Pineau De Re and Rule The World. The 2016 winner
Bellshill, subsequently scored again at Grade 1 level during the Punchestown
Festival and looks to be a high-class recruit to chasing this winter.
Lawlor’s Hotel have a
longstanding connection to Naas Racecourse as its previous owner, Mrs. Brigid
Lawlor who established the iconic Naas hotel in 1913 also bred the great Mill
House, who recorded his first victory at Naas in
the Osberstown Hurdle in 1961. Speaking at the launch, Tom Ryan said,
“We are very much looking forward to the third renewal of the Grade 1 Lawlor’s
Hotel Novice Hurdle. As the centre piece of our National Hunt programme the
first two renewals have been a resounding success, with modern day attendance
records broken in 2015 and again earlier this year. Naas’s reputation as ‘the
nursery of champions’, is well established. Over the last five year’s graduates
from the race have won a variety of top class races at home and abroad, over
€1.6m in prize-money has been accumulated by these equine stars in that time.”
The famous voice of
racing, Des Scahill was the MC for the event and he chatted to champion jockey
Ruby Walsh on his life in racing as well as his favourite moments. Walsh told
how he was around 10 or 11 years old before he really got into racing and how
he earned his amateur license on his 16th birthday. “After my first ever win, I thought it was
easy, but it wasn’t. I was raging with my mother when she made me go back to
school at 16, of course she was right.”
He went on to say how he worked both in Ireland and the UK for many
years and even though it was an amazing time and he had, “the best craic ever”,
it was too much of a strain on family life.
“As I get older I have to work harder on my fitness but at 37 years old I’m
in better shape now than I was at 19”.
Des asked him if he had a favourite horse and without missing a beat he
retorted, “Kauto Star - he was the horse of a lifetime.”
Fashion was also big on
the agenda at the launch as the big day will also feature the Hugh Statham Jewellers
Winter Ladies Day. A fabulous Raymond Weil watch worth €2,600 is up for grabs
for the best dressed lady. The fashion
judges will include broadcaster and former model, Glenda Gilson, Bairbre Power
of the Irish Independent, Jennifer Stevens, Editor of Irish Country Magazine,
and Anna Fortune of the Kildare Post.
The four runners up in the fashion competition will also win a necklace
each worth €250 from Hugh Statham Jewellers.