American Tom aimed at Naas prize
Views from connections ahead of the the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase at Naas on Sunday.
Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci run American Tom on Sunday
A change of direction is expected to bring out the best in the highly-regarded American Tom at Naas on Sunday.
The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old arrived from France with a big reputation in 2015, but was a slightly fortuitous winner on his hurdling debut at Gowran in November 2015.
He was then not sighted for over a year before making his chasing bow at Punchestown last month, where apart from showing a tendency to go to his left, he was faultless in the jumping department on his way to an assured victory.
American Tom goes left-handed for the first time and faces just three rivals in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: "I thought American Tom put up a hugely impressive performance in Punchestown and considering he jumped left most of the way, going the other way around should bring about some improvement.
"Gangster (runner-up at Punchestown) has come out and run very well again since, so I think the form is good.
"It is a step up, but I think he's well able for it."
Two of American Tom's opponents carry the colours of Gigginstown House Stud.
Noel Meade's Road To Respect made a fine start to his career over fences at this venue in November and has twice performed creditably at Grade One level, most recently finishing third behind the Mullins-trained Min at Leopardstown.
Gordon Elliott's impressive Limerick scorer Stone Hard also carries the Gigginstown silks.
"We're hoping the softer ground and the track will play to Road To Respect's strengths," said Gigginstown manager Eddie O'Leary.
"Stone Hard has a lot of ability. He can race a bit keen, so if we can sort that out he could be a very good horse."
Some Plan, from Henry de Bromhead's stable, completes the field.
The nine-year-old won on his first start over fences at Punchestown and was still in contention when falling at the second-last in an Arkle trial at Cheltenham in November.