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Naas

  • 13:30 Slaney Novice Hurdle 2m 4f

  • (Grade 2) €37,500 added 5yo+ 3 ran
  • Winner €24,375 2nd €7,125 3rd €3,375 4th €1,125
  • Going: Soft, Soft/Heavy in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 5m 4.00s
  • Off time: 13:30:31

Full result

13:30 Naas Result 5th January 2014
Pos Draw Dist Horse Weight Jockey Trainer Age SP
1st Briar Hill (IRE) 11-10 R Walsh W P Mullins 6 1/3f
Tracked leader in 2nd, pushed along after 3 out, ridden to lead 2 out, stayed on well under pressure run-in opened 2/7 touched 1/3
2nd Apache Jack (IRE) 11-3 B J Cooper D T Hughes 6 10/1
Led, clear at 3rd, reduced advantage from 4 out, ridden and headed 2 out, kept on under pressure from last opened 10/1 touched 10/1
3rd ¾ Very Wood (FR) 11-0 P Carberry N Meade 5 10/3
In touch in last, slight mistake 3 out and soon ridden, no impression on leaders from next, kept on without threatening from last opened 7/2 touched 7/2
NR Upazo (FR) 11-3 P Townend W P Mullins 6

Betting breakdown

Tote Win: £1.40
Straight Forecast: £3.51 Exacta: £3.40

Placepot: €17.90, Pool: €0.0

Verdict

It's hard to produce a visually impressive performance in testing ground so it was, perhaps, no surprise that very few bookmakers opted to alter BRIAR HILL's ante-post odds for the Cheltenham Festival following this hard-fought success but the run represents his best performance over hurdles to date. The Champion Bumper winner had to make his own running in a modest maiden hurdle and again in a Grade One match, the form of which has been let down, but appeared to relish getting a lead here and his hurdling was much improved as a result. He stayed on well for pressure from the last and was well on top at the line which was no mean feat considering he was conceding 7 and 10lbs to two useful rivals. His trainer, not surprisingly, deems a run in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle unlikely but the Albert Bartlett must surely be the preferred destination for this dour galloper. Apache Jack had Ruby Walsh rowing along aboard the eventual winner when quickening the pace into the straight and kept on well to hold on to second. He looks an improved performer this season and it would be no surprise to see him line-up in the staying novice hurdles at the spring festivals where the likely better ground may well suit. Very Wood was expected to appreciate this longer trip having finished in midfield behind The Tullow Tank in the Royal Bond over the minimum. Proven under the conditions, it was disappointing that this point winner couldn't take more of a hand in the finish but his stable is enduring something of a lean spell at present and he may well prove capable of better than this in time.