Brilliant Cheltenham Festival winner City Island will make his debut over fences at Naas on Saturday as long as the ground is not too testing, writes David Jennings.
The Ballymore Novices' Hurdle winner, who defeated Champ at Cheltenham, has been impressing Martin Brassil in his schooling sessions and the Mongey Communications Beginners Chase over 2m3f, won by Road To Respect three years ago, has been pencilled in as his starting point over fences
"We'd like to run at Naas on Saturday but it will all depend on the ground, we wouldn't want it too bad. It'd have to be soft or yielding to soft or something like that. I wouldn't run him if there was any heavy in it," said Brassil
"There are not too many suitable beginners' chases for him so Naas would suit, but if he doesn't go to Naas he will go to Punchestown the following week.
The ground at Naas was described as soft on Wednesday, with an unsettled forecast ahead.
City Island is as short as 12-1 with bet365 for the RSA Chase, but 25-1 elsewhere, while he is priced between 12-1 and 16-1 for the JLT Novices' Chase.
"I've been very happy with City Island and what he's been doing. He's schooled nicely. Mark Walsh does all his schooling so hopefully he'll be able to ride him on Saturday
"It's always nice to start the season with a good horse like him. It makes it that bit more exciting," Brassil added
If City Island does return at Naas on Saturday he will likely face a tricky assignment as there are a whole host of top-class hurdlers entered, including two-time Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon, who is one of ten entries for Willie Mullins.