Described by chairman Dermot Cantillon as a 100/1 shot, Naas and officials from the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board had to take the unfortunate decision to abandon the marquee Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle meeting on Sunday after just one race due to thick fog.
The track was inspected for the threat of frost and fog at 7.00am, and it soon became apparent that the latter was the real worry. There were further inspections at 9.30am and 11.00am, when officials gave the meeting the green light. However, by the time of first race 12.30pm, it was clear that the fog had thickened, and there was a near 20-minute delay.
Allowed to run
That race was eventually allowed to be run, but most of the two-and-a-half-mile contest was invisible, with runners only emerging in front of the cameras on the turn from home and after the last.
The stewards subsequently consulted with a group of riders, the riders’ association representative, trainers representative Gordon Elliott, the Medical Officer, Racecourse Manager and Clerk of the Course before deciding to abandon the remainder of the meeting with conditions showing no signs of improving.
Clerk of the Course Brendan Sheridan commented: “Before racing you could see the last fence pretty clear, but unfortunately it has come back down again. I live just between here and Punchestown, less than a mile away, and there is no fog at home. It’s unfortunate but just one of those things.”
The meeting, which features the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle has been rescheduled to this Friday, and it will be free admission. The feature is a quality renewal, which is highlighted by a couple of the best novice hurdlers from Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins’s yards - Firefox and Ile Atlantique.
The latter was just shading favouritism on Sunday and bids to give his owner and trainer another win in the race, after teaming up to score here with Ginto in 2022.
Firefox took the measure of subsequent impressive winner Ballyburn when they met at Fairyhouse in November and looks a real prospect. The same can be said for Ile Atlantique, a 19-length winner of his maiden hurdle at Gowran Park.