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First Grade 1 of 2018 for Irish Pointers

First Grade 1 of 2018 for Irish Pointers

The Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas Novices Hurdle was pitched as the meeting place of the two most exciting novice hurdlers in the middle-distance division on this side of the Irish Sea, in point-to-point graduates, Samcro and Next Destination.

With the former ruled out of the race in the day’s preceding the only Grade 1 contest to take place at Naas racecourse during the national hunt season, all the focus surrounded Willie Mullins’ charge, a graduate of the Costello pointing academy.
 
Sent off as the clear choice of the market as the 8/15 favourite, the six-year-old was never far from the pace-setting Jetz in the €90,000 contest, and whilst the field swung into the home straight all tightly grouped, it was the Malcom Denmark-owned Dubai Destination gelding who picked-up best over the final two flights.
 
His one-length success in the hands of Paul Townend over the Gordon Elliott-trained Cracking Smart, has preserved his unbeaten record over hurdles, as he looks to pave his way to the Festival in March, for which he was shortened in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle market, and is now available between prices ranging from 6/1 to 8/1.
 
Winning trainer Willie Mullins reported after the race that Next Destination, who won his point-to-point at Quakerstown as a four-year-old when defeating Arvico Bleu, could possibly get an entry for the newly created Dublin Racing Festival.
 
Mullins did not firmly commit his latest Grade 1 winner to a clash with Samcro in the Ballymore, hinting that the the other Grade 1 contests were also an option, and he is now the favourite for the longer of the three novice hurdles at the Festival, as low as 4/1 in places for that 3-mile Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle.
 

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