We're all set for a seven-race jumps card from Naas on Sunday afternoon, featuring the Grade 1 2m4f Lawlor's Of Naas Novice Hurdle, and Dave Randall from the Racing Post has picked out two selections.
Willie Mullins went 21-86 (24%) in the 14 days prior to racing at Cork on Saturday. The prolific County Carlow handler is 54-187 (29%) with all his runners over fences at Naas and jockey Paul Townend is 303-919 (33%) when riding over fences for the yard.
Mullins has won this 2m novice chase six times in the 10 runnings since 2014, including the last four through Cash Back, Energumene, Blue Lord and Appreciate It.
MISTER POLICEMAN is this year's representative, though he was admittedly workmanlike when making a winning debut over fences at Fairyhouse on soft to heavy ground in November.
Mister Policeman joined Mullins from David Cottin in France for 120,000 euros in March 2022, shortly after winning two 2m2f conditions hurdles on very soft ground at Fontainebleau that month.
Mullins didn't take the wraps off his new recruit until April 2023 when the selection made a pleasing winning Irish debut over hurdles at Cork on yielding ground. He was given a Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 150 for that display.
From today's opposition, only the more exposed 2021 Triumph Hurdle winner Quilixios has achieved an RPR north of 150 in his career - 153 when second to Teahupoo in the Grade 2 Limerick Hurdle on heavy ground in December 2021.
Quilixios won his chasing debut by a neck (RPR 131) over 2m3f on soft back at Limerick in October, but he is on a retrieval mission here dropping right back in trip after disappointing upped to 3m in Grade 2 company at Punchestown in November.
Mister Policeman had to show a determined attitude to make a winning return to action on his chasing debut after a 229-day break at Fairyhouse, but his jumping was pretty assured (RPR 140), and he looked a bit ring-rusty more than anything.
He is entitled to improve from the whole experience and that would leave Gordon Elliott's Sa Fureur with a bit to find having been left in front at the last by the fall of Mullins' Hunters Yarn when getting off the mark over fences at Fairyhouse on heavy ground last month (RPR 138).
Gavin Cromwell went 5-33 (15%) in the 14 days prior to racing at Cork on Saturday. Cromwell is 4-25 (16%) with all his runners over fences at Naas and an each-way hunch feels that his representative INVICTUS MACHIN can go well in the 10-runner 2m handicap chase.
The selection is unexposed after only seven career starts. He registered a Racing Post Rating of 123 when winning going away on soft ground on his debut at Down Royal on soft ground over hurdles in November 2022.
The distaff side of his pedigree is all about chasing, though, and he went over fences on only his fifth start in October. He showed improved chasing form on his third such start at Fairyhouse in November and it is notable that he now making his handicap debut over fences from a potentially exploitable rating of 112.
Some market confidence would be welcome in the run up to the race as he is one of three in the field owned by J P McManus, and a good showing from Mister Policeman in the previous contest would enhance his Fairyhouse chasing form, and his claims.
The following Grade 1 2m4f novice hurdle (2.00) is clearly a race to note, with Bob Olinger and Envoi Allen among the recent winners, but nothing stands out to this observer from a betting perspective.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.