The first race at Naas (13:30) on Sunday is big on numbers, but low on class – think Millwall FC – and the form of the Willie Mullins-trained Fast Buck is some of the best on offer.
He finished runner-up to Fakir d’Oudairies on his hurdling/stable debut at Cork last month, showing an aptitude for hurdling and leaving the impression he can better his fairly useful Flat form in this sphere.
The winner has since franked the form in no uncertain terms and it will be disappointing if he isn’t able to go one place better now with that experience under his belt.
Uisce Beatha is the Irish word for whiskey, and no doubt there will be plenty slurped if Uisce Beatha wins the novice handicap chase at 14:30. Trainer Joseph O’Brien is having a magnificent season, and has a couple of leading chances at the Cheltenham Festival in the J.P. McManus silks in the shape of Le Richebourg and Sir Erec.
Uisce Beatha isn’t at that sort of level yet, but he built on his previous promise over fences when opening his account at Fairyhouse last month, his strength at the finish proving the difference.
The handicapper has perhaps taken a chance with his opening mark of 126 and, with the likelihood of even more to come, Joseph O’Brien’s charge is fully expected to follow up.
The 16:35 race doesn’t look the strongest handicap and it will be disappointing if Kayf Thou isn’t able to resume winning ways.
He opened his account on handicap debut at Fairyhouse last month, not always fluent at his fences but proving well suited by the test of stamina. It could be worth forgiving his latest effort when ridden by an inexperienced amateur, leaving the impression he wasn’t suited by the slight drop back in trip.
He looks the type that will stay longer than the mother in law and, while he will be well suited by marathon trips in time, there is still some room to manoeuvre with his handicap mark and he should go close here with Jack Kennedy back in the saddle.
In contrast to the opening race, the closing bumper at 17:05 is low on numbers but high on quality, and it is Midnight Run who is taken to come out on top.
He created a deep impression when winning a bumper on debut at Galway in October, and showed improved form when beaten only by the exciting Envoi Allen in a listed event at Navan last time, holding every chance when ridden two furlongs out but held by the winner in the final furlong.
That form has been boosted since, too, and in excellent hands, Midnight Run is expected to prove too classy for his rivals here.