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Ruby Walsh: Simply Ned is the one to beat at Naas as the Cheltenham Festival gets closer

by Ruby Walsh | February 20, 2016

I’ve moved on from the shock of Faugheen’s Champion Hurdle absence after Wednesday’s news so hopefully it’s all onwards and upwards now. He’s fine. It’s just a niggly injury and he should be back next season after resting up.

While Annie Power has to be supplemented, she probably won’t do much until next week where she’s going to have to hit the boards running in her homework to make a case for herself to be included in the Champion Hurdle line-up.

Arctic Fire and Nichols Canyon are back into their work, have started their preparations and are in good form. Let’s hope it stays that way now and we can get the rest of the team there in one piece.

But there’s Naas on Sunday to come first…

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Woodlands Novice H’cap Chase 2.55pm

Willie Mullins saddles Net D’Ecosse (Editor’s note – Net D’Ecosse is a non runner)

Paddy Power Shops Better Value Nov Hurdle  (3:30pm)

I have just two rides at Naas tomorrow, starting with Au Quart De Tour in the novice hurdle. He fell at Fairyhouse but redeemed himself at Gowran Park after that. The second horse that day has been beaten since but the third has won subsequently.

This is a step up in grade again and he may want a bit further than this 2m trip. Hurry Henry isn’t a bad horse either, Jessica Harrington’s Don’t Touch It looks the one to beat after an impressive win at Leopardstown last time.

Paddy Power Over 260 Shops Nationwide Chase (4:05pm)

Twinlight has struggled a bit this year having to carry a Grade One penalty in all these races so he’s always giving weight away. His last run in the Tied Cottage at Punchestown was an improvement when fifth to Felix Yonger. He still had a chance at the second last but the others were too strong for him from the second-last fence.

Bright New Dawn has had plenty of races and won last time at Clonmel when he beat Rubi Light but has to improve again while Days Hotel’s form ties in with Twinlight he’ll also have to improve.

Simply Ned looks the one on form that will prove the strongest. He was just collared by Flemenstar at Leopardstown over Christmas after galloping clear when Un de Sceaux fell on Paddy Power Day and drops back to Grade 2 company here.

Paddy Power Clane Shop Flat Race (5:10pm)

Willie runs Avenir D’Une Vie who I’ve a tipped a couple times but has delivered just once so far. He’s working quite well and should be good enough to beat the likes of Tamlough Boy here.

Ruby Eye Catchers 750

Cheltenham 2016

Even though he won and it was there for all to see I thought Smashing ran a solid race at Gowran Park last Saturday. He was always going too quick for Ballycasey and Morning Assembly and sprinted away from us down the straight. It was a solid Ryanair Chase performance.

Liz Doyle’s Without Limits won the bumper on Punchestown on Wednesday fairly handy and could be a decent sort. He was beaten by Aidan O’Brien’s Aspen Colorado by almost five lengths at Leopardstown so it’s a good pointer to the Champion Bumper where the Ballydoyle runner heads the market.

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