Head of the posses can be ahead of the posse!

HORSES FOR COURSES by TOM RED  NAAS: Irish racing this weekend is on at Naas on Saturday. Both Fairyhouse and Cork hold meetings on Sunday. The big race of the weekend is the Grade 2 Norman Groves Chase at Fairyhouse worth over € 29,000. Martin Brassil reports Nickname in great form as he bids for back-to-back victories after winning the race from Justified 12 months ago. Nickname could be taking on the 2005 Gold Cup hero Kicking King, who is set to make his comeback from injury, but should win here following his run 2nd to Mansony in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. Tom Taaffe intends to re-introduce the 2005 Gold Cup winner Kicking King, now back to health, in this race over 2 miles.   Michael Bowe’s SWEET KILN, the 11-4 ante-post favourite for the David Nicholson Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, is an intended runner for the Listed Bank of Ireland Hurdle at Naas. There are 13 entries for the 2m3f contest including Snowy Morning who is joined by stablemates Candy Girl and Quatre Heures. and as a precaution the 2005 Gold Cup winner Kicking King in case weather affects Sunday. Trainer Jim Dreaper has Notre Pere winner of a Grade 1 race at Leopardstown over Christmas in the race. CROSS-CHANNEL: Cross-channel Paul Nicholls’ Tingle Creek Chase winner Twist Magic will face a maximum of seven rivals in Saturday’s Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot. The 6-Y-O is ante-post favourite for Queen Mother Champion Chase market following his impressive 3l defeat of Voy Por Ustedes at Sandown last month. Arthur Moore’s Mansony is among those engaged. The 9-Y-O was winning his second Grade 1 Chase beating Nickname over the Christmas when Dessie Hughes’ Schindlers Hunt, also in the race, was 3rd. Nicholl’s Hoo La Baloo 4th and Ashley Brook 5th also run.David Pipe has Pablo Du Charmil and Boylesports.com Gold Cup winner Tamarinble outsider Pauntley Gofa completing list. Mansony might be worth a bet. RECOMMENDATION: This week’s recommendation is in the bumper at Naas where John Kiely trained Head of the Posse, a fast finishing 3rd to Sean Mulryan’s I’m Still Standing at Leopardstown on Stephen’s Day, should beat the highly-rated Willie Mullins trained Themoonandsixpence and it will be better value. Shadow of the Wind trained in Waterford by Henry de Bromhead attempts to give weight following her win in Limerick on Sunday in the Cork Mares bumper. Dangers will include Fair Ina from Michael Bowe’s yard and Willie Mullins’ Fair Ina and the maiden Luca Brasi. If Shadow runs she should win. BARKING UP RIGHT TREE: For those of you who took last week’s advice Barker each-way was value in the Pierse Hurdle, well backed from 20/1 he was still returned at generous odds of 10/1. Cashel-based James Barrett saddled just his fifth and biggest winner to date in winning the €130,000 Pierse Hurdle with Barker, who was ridden by Timmy Murphy, ably deputising for the injured Martin Mooney. At 10/1 the gelding stayed on well to catch Leonatd Whitmore’s Brave Right on the run in to score by two and a half lengths with Silver Jaro 3rd for Tom Hogan and Gordon Elliott’s Roman Villa 4th. A great result for the smaller yards. INJURIES SUSTAINED: The favourite Do The Trick crashed out at the third last leaving Paddy Flood unconscious and the rider was sent to hospital for further assessment. Barker carried the colours of Eamonn Duignan and Barrett had regular jockey Martin Mooney in his thoughts afterwards. ‘I feel sorry for Martin. We rang him for advice on how to ride the race as he’s a really important part of the team and he’ll ride him the next day – that’s racing. We’ll have a look at the County Hurdle at Cheltenham now but we’ll get over today first.’   David Casey also ended up in hospital with a dislocated shoulder when taking a crashing fall at the last on the beaten favourite Perce Rock in the Novice Chase won by Glencove Marina. Glencove Marina was completing a treble for Ruby Walsh who also rode the first two winners Phsyco and Scotsirish. David was standing in for Tony McCoy who has been injured in a fall on Saturday. McCoy, along with all racing fans, is hoping he will be fit for the Cheltenham Festival. The champion jockey who damaged a vertebra when parting company with Arnold Layne in the totesport.com Classic Chase underwent an operation on Tuesday to remove a piece of bone which will hasten his recovery. NIALL MORAN RUNNER: In the 4-Y-O bumper Aiphreda from The Sliabh Bawn Stables of Niall Moran ran an eycatching race with Nina Carberry on board and will come on for the run. The selection Eddie Hales’ Astute Approach, at 4/1, was 2nd to Michael O’Brien’s Just Friends ridden by his son in law Denis Cullen. CONOR’S CLASS: What a weekend for Conor O’Dwyer who trained his first winner on the track at Punchestown on Saturday when won in the colours of Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud. Then on Sunday he rode Mister Top Notch to victory in the Grade A Handicap Chase. Trained by Davy Fitzgerald in Co. Meath the winner was given a rousing reception by connections on his return to the winners enclosure. ROSCOMMON CONNECTIONS: At Thurles last Thursday there were two Roscommon owned horses in the Maiden hurdle won by the odds on favourite Cooldine trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh. Trained also by Willie Mullins and ridden by Davy Condon Luca Brasi, 25/1, finished 6th after a bad mistake at the last and is owned by the Luca Brasi Five Syndicate which it is understood has strong Roscommon town connections and is one to watch. Kin Rosc running in the colours of Louis Conlon, trained by Tom Mullins and ridden by Ken Whelan finished 15th having run well early on in the race. WEATHER WOES: The weather put paid to racing between the flags last weekend and all 3 meetings were postponed leading to a busy weekend with 4 meetings. The Stonehall Hunt at Askeaton, Co. Limerick has been postponed to next Saturday the 19th, and the District Hunt at Fairwood, Tinahely, Co.Wicklow to next Sunday 20th. All entries stand for both meetings. The Muskerry Hunt at Dromatimore, Aghabullogue, Co.Cork has been postponed to Saturday 2nd February and will require new entries.   The Scarteen Hunt at Kilfeacle, Co. Tipperary and the Killeagh Hunt at Killeagh, East Cork take place as scheduled on Sunday.   All meetings start at 12.30 except Tinahely which starts at 12.00. horses.forcourses@yahoo.com