Australia-trained Big Blue entered in the Grade 3 Limestone Lad Hurdle on Sunday. Photo: Alain Barr
Naas Racecourse is set to play host to a piece of Irish racing history on
Sunday with Big Blue possibly set to become one of, if not the first, Australian-trained horse to run over jumps in Ireland in the Grade 3 Limestone
The eight-year-old pulled up in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on his first
outing over jumps in the Northern Hemisphere. Previously though he did win the
prestigious Galleywood Hurdle at Warrnambool in May while he was a Listed
winner and was placed several times at Group level on the flat in France where
he began his career with Andre Fabre.
A winner of the Randwick St Leger on the flat in Australia and placed in a race
on Melbourne Cup day in 2019, Big Blue is trained by David Eustace and former
jump jockey Ciaron Maher who has sent out four winners of Australia’s biggest
jumps race – the Grand Annual Steeplechase.
Eamonn McEvoy, manager of Naas Racecourse commented: "Naas Racecourse is
always delighted to welcome runners from overseas and we are very excited by
the prospect of having a first Australian-trained runner.
"It is very sporting of Big Blue's connections to tackle some races in the
Northern Hemisphere and fingers crossed they will make the journey over from
Lambourn where the horse has been based for the last couple of months. The
Limestone Lad Hurdle proved the perfect stepping stone for Espoir D'allen in
the Champion Hurdle last year and it would be some story if we had an
Australian winner this year."
Big Blue is among eleven entries for the Limestone Lad Hurdle and looks set to face
strong local opposition. A three strong challenge from Willie Mullins is headed
by the high class mare Stormy Ireland while Gordon Elliott’s representatives
include the Fishery Lane Hurdle heroine Surin and the long absent Sutton Place
who defeated Supasundae to win this race in 2017.
Sunday’s card also features a potentially fascinating edition of the Grade 3
Naas Racecourse Business Club Novice Chase where Willie Mullins looks to hold a
very strong hand.
The champion trainer has four of the 13 entries with his team headed by
Faugheen who rolled back the years to record that memorable victory over Samcro
in a Grade 1 at Limerick over Christmas.
Mullins could also rely on the impressive Grade 2 winner Carefully Selected
while he has also engaged Allaho who was among the leading staying novice
hurdlers of last season and began his career over fences with a second to Easy
Game at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Further interest in this three mile affair is provided by Joseph O’Brien’s
Cheltenham Festival winner Early Doors while Matthew Smith has entered his
Drinmore Novice Chase second Ronald Pump who could revert to fences following
his second in a Pertemps Qualifier several weeks ago.
McEvoy added: "The entries for the Naas Racecourse Business Club Novice
Chase are exceptional as well and there is no doubt that Naas Racecourse proves
to be the perfect test for any horse that is wishing to tackle the hill at
The card concludes with a new edition to this fixture in the Naas Hunters Chase
where the entries include the former Irish Gold Cup winner Edwulf and the
Cheltenham hero Black Hercules. The initial entries also include David
Christie’s Dylrow who created such a big impression when winning a good hunters
chase at Down Royal on St Stephen’s Day.
The Limestone Lad Hurdle proved the perfect stepping stone for Espoir
D'allen in the Champion Hurdle last year and it would be some story if we had
an Australian winner this year.
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