Free Expression To Tame Novice Hurdle
When it comes to finding the winner of Sunday’s big novice hurdle at Naas (1.30pm), then it could be worth sticking with in-form runners who won last time out, as each of the last 10 victors of the Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle did just that.
One who fits that profile is Willie Mullins’, Killer Crow, who won a 24-runner maiden at Naas a few months ago (2m4f, soft), and while this represents a big step up in class, it’s worth noting that this race favoured unexposed types yet to reveal their full potential in Graded events…
Of the last 10 Lawlor’s Hotel winners…
10 returned 8/1 or shorter, though 8 were non-favourites
10 won last time out
9 had 1-3 hurdle runs
9 were trained by W Mullins (4), N Meade (2) or M Morris (2)
8 ran over 2m2f or further last time out
8 won 46% or more their hurdle runs
7 ran at Navan or Punchestown last time out
Mullins, who has won this race four times, also has the 6yo, Tell Us More, who won an 18-runner maiden by an impressive 11l at Gowran park in November (2m, heavy) and as a 3m points winner should prove even better stepped up in trip on Sunday. Mullins also has McKinley, who has a bit to prove having been pulled up on Boxing Day.
Noel Meade is another trainer who has enjoyed succes in this race during the last 10 years, and relies this year upon Couleur France, a 7yo that won a 2m4f novice in November, prior to being beaten 7l in a Grade 2 at Navan three weeks ago (2m4f, soft). Some may say that gelding had his limitations exposed last time, and he may remain vulnerable to more unexposed types on Sunday.
Gordon Elliott is also out to bag Sunday’s prize with Free Expression, who recorded a career best when winning a Grade 2 at Navan in November (2m4f, soft). This 6yo showed a smart turn of foot to settle matters on that occasion, which will put him in good stead for Sunday. He remains the class act in the field with Graded success to his name, and it will take a good one to lower his colours.
Ted Walsh meanwhile, has On Impulse, an 8l maiden hurdle winner at Punchestown last month (2m4f, yielding), who will need to improve if figuring, as will Paul Nolan’s, Fine Article, who also won a maiden by over 2l at Limerick last week.
It’s hard to get away from the Willie Mullins factor in this race, and of the trio he has targeted on Sunday, the vote goes to Gordon Elliott’s, Free Expression, who smacks of class and has a useful turn of foot.