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We’ve got a decent card in Navan on Sunday, where Santiago is the star of the show. Last year’s Irish Derby winner makes his seasonal comeback in the Vintage Crop Stakes at 16:20. This looks a tricky task on paper and he has to concede weight to Stratum and Master Of Reality.
I’d be surprised if either runs to within 7lbs of their ratings though. Baron Samedi is improving but will need to find more here and I’d make Santiago an odds on shot here. The odds available look perfectly fair if you play at short prices. My Sunday wagers will come at bigger prices though.
SCREEN SIREN runs in the sprint handicap and this will be both her seasonal and handicap debut. She showed progressive form in three maiden runs at the backend of last season. She was beaten just over 3 lengths last time out in Dundalk and the winner of that race is a useful sort. The second has also won twice since.
The handicapper looks to have taken a civilised line in allocating Screen Siren an opening mark of 70. Sarah Lynam had her horses in really good nick over the winter and I imagine she’ll have this filly fairly straight first time up. If that’s the case, a big run can be expected from this unexposed filly.
There is an unusually big field line up for the Salsabil Stakes and as you would expect, there are a host of potential improvers on show here. I noticed that plenty of these are bred to appreciate, and have form on soft ground. The quicker surface here may catch a few out.
MAAR should bounce off the ground and she also has the benefit of race fitness, having only made her debut last month in Dundalk. She showed promise that day and built on it when getting off the mark at the same track a couple of weeks ago. It’s possible the second that day underperformed, but it was a seriously impressive effort from Maar though.
She travelled beautifully before coming clear under considerate handling and she obviously needs to take a big step forward here. That’s entirely possible mind you, as she’s tactically versatile and race fit. We’re likely to get a double figure price and that’s enough to tempt me into a bet on this well-bred sort.
SCOTT LANG could prove ahead of his opening mark in this staying handicap. This four-year-old only made his debut in January and he finished a close second that day. It wasn’t much of a race granted, but his subsequent second at the same track is useful form. The winner that day has an outside squeak in the big juvenile hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.
Scott Lang then ran another respectable race in Navan last month, the trip was too sharp that day and he stuck on well enough for sixth. He does have a slightly high head carriage and can wander around under pressure, but I’m inclined to put that down to inexperience. He should be improving, and an opening mark of 73 doesn’t look excessive. This step up in trip looks certain to suit.
I’m going to take a flyer on CAPE ISLAY in the second division of that staying handicap. This takes a bit of explaining as he has barely beaten a horse on his last four starts, but he did finish second off a mark of 79 on his seasonal bow last year – so at least we know he goes well fresh. This horse got to a mark in the mid 80’s in 2019 and he races off 73 here.
In a year when Henry De Bromhead has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Grand National, is it too much to ask that he can pull another rabbit out of the hat here? It probably is to be fair and this horse is going to be a big price though. I will chance a few shekels win only!
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