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Monday 18 December 2017

Naas steps up to the grade

Slaney to become first Grade One at Kildare track

Naas Racecourse is now officially a Grade One track following the upgrade of the Slaney Novice Hurdle by Horse Racing Ireland yesterday.

Formerly a Grade Two contest, the Slaney Novice Hurdle was last season won by Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill and has previously been won by Grade One horses like Mikael D'Haguenent and Monksland, to name just a couple.

Naas is widely supported by trainers bringing potential high-class horses to the track for meetings during their winter jumps programme and manager Tom Ryan was delighted with the news.

"The realisation of a Grade One race for Naas has been a long-standing goal here for many years. We pride ourselves on providing a high-quality venue for young horses to prepare for festival meetings," said Ryan.

He added: "Slaney Hurdle graduates have consistently tasted success at all the major festivals and to see it achieve Grade 1 status is a big boost to our National Hunt programme.

"I'd like to thank the owners and trainers around the country for their continued support. We hope to make an announcement regarding a new sponsor for the race in the near future."

The Slaney Hurdle takes place in early January each year and is often used by trainers who opt to skip Leopardstown's Christmas meeting or prefer the 2m4f option.

In changes to the jumps pattern, the Grade One Navan Novice Hurdle has been downgraded from Grade One to Grade Two, while Navan have also seen their Grade Two Future Champions Bumper reduced to a Listed contest.

The Grade Two Nas Na Riogh Chase at Naas will now become a Grade B Handicap Chase and the committee also added a new Listed four-year-old hurdle over two miles to the Limerick Christmas meeting.

Meanwhile, Ryan Moore will be on board the Aidan O'Brien-trained Geoffrey Chaucer in tomorrow's German Derby in Hamburg.

The unlucky Derrinstown Derby Trial third failed to get into contention in the Epsom Derby where he finished last and missed last week's intended engagement in the Irish Derby, as he was declared to be coughing, but tomorrow he gets the chance to get his season back on track when taking on the well-touted Sea The Moon.

Along with the Godolphin-owned Pinzolo, Geoffrey Chaucer was supplemented for the race and the pair will face the Markus Klug trained Sea The Moon who is gearing up for a long-term tilt at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which was so famously won by his sire Sea The Stars in 2009.

Klug said: "This is a big test for him, but he has done everything well at home and will enjoy the extra furlong."

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