Sport

Nucky Johnson's form reads well on racecourse return at Naas

Noel Meade trains Nucky Johnson, the best bet on Thursday's Naas card
Noel Meade trains Nucky Johnson, the best bet on Thursday's Naas card

NUCKY Johnson could be nicely treated on his return in the rated novice hurdle at Naas on Thursday.

The Noel Meade-trained gelding has an initial mark of 125 in the two-mile contest, which is essentially a novice handicap, and that could be on the lenient side.

He was promoted to the winners’ spot when last seen at Punchestown in November and that form has worked out well.

The Vadamos gelding was carried to his right in the closing stages then by The Big Doyen and got the race in the stewards room.

Hunters Yarn was a length back in third that day and he has won since before finishing mid-division in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham off a mark of 147.

Nucky Johnson had been third to a smart sort in Three Card Brag on his only other outing over hurdles and is open to further improvement. He could be a bit better than this grade.

Abbeydale has the same rating of 125 and could be a danger. He appreciated dropping back to two miles last time in Gowran when beating hotpot Raglan Road.

That looked a good performance with the pair pulling nicely clear of the third and Michael O’Sullivan takes a valuable 5lb off his back now.

The in-form mare Doyen Ta Win is another that has to be respected and will be dangerous if given a freebie in front. She got a 15lb hike for winning in Wexford, though, and this looks tougher.

A couple of races later The Connector can bag a follow up win in the two-mile-two handicap hurdle.

The Michael Hourigan-trained gelding was a good winner at Punchestown last month and the five-year-old looks open to further improvement.

He got a 7lb rise for his victory and connections offset that now by giving talented claimer Aidan Kelly the mount this time.

The bumper on the card could be an informative contest and big-money purchase Mahon’s Way catches the eye on his first outing for Henry de Bromhead.

He makes his first start now for owners Cheveley Park having cost £360,000 after his point-to-point win at Lisronagh in November.

The Walk In The Park gelding is out of a half-sister to Champagne Fever, a top-class performer a few years back who landed the Cheltenham bumper and Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Willie Mullins saddles Mirazur West in the race and he looks an obvious danger. The Westerner gelding was unlucky not to win on his sole point-to-point start, falling when leading at the last in Dromahane.

GARY CARSON'S NAAS SELECTIONS

(next best in brackets)

1.57 By Your Side (Night Sparkle)

2.32 Troubled Times ( Something Abouther)

3.07 Nucky Johnson (nap) (Abbeydale)

3.42 Crafty Gael (Nemean)

4.17 The Connector (dbl) (Thecornerhouse)

4.52 Wee Small Hours (Tangental)