Belfast Telegraph

Nash's Ascot hopes rest on Tony McCoy

By Martin Kelly

WILLIE Mullins' dominance of the Irish scene has prompted James Nash to bring Massini's Trap to Ascot for today's Mitie Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle.

The Grade Two will be no easy task, as it has drawn Irving and Volnay De Thaix, respectively still unbeaten for Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson, as well as useful trio Prince Siegfried, Splash of Ginge and Long Lunch.

Kildare-based Nash, though, has set Massini's Trap a few difficult assignments since he started off jumping at the country tracks in the summer, and he was a creditable six-lengths fourth to Champion Hurdle prospect Jezki at Down Royal.

"Willie has a very strong hand of four-year-olds and I was thinking of maybe seeing if there was a race for him in England and stepping him up to a Grade Two," said the trainer.

"In saying that, there are a couple of smart ones in there, but this is a good way of starting off to see if he travels well.

"He has a bit of experience for a novice, he's basically a handicapper. I think the ground will suit."

Nash has booked champion jockey Tony McCoy for the mount and said: "I've known AP for years and when he's available, it's ideal."

A group of five gather for the other Grade Two, the Betfred Novices' Chase landed by subsequent Arkle hero Simonsig 12 months ago.

Alan King's Raya Star, former winner of the Ladbroke Hurdle, looks the headline act, stepping up three furlongs from his defeat to Dodging Bullets at Cheltenham.

Well Refreshed is reported to be in tip-top condition ahead of the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow.

Trainer Gary Moore was pleased with the nine-year-old's latest effort when he kept on stoutly to finish third behind There's No Panic in the London National at Sandown earlier this month.

All roads now point to the Welsh venue for the long-distance handicap chase on December 28, for which Well Refreshed was allotted 10st 2lb.

"It's so far so good with him for Chepstow," said the West Sussex handler. "I was delighted with his last run."

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