For those fortunate enough to have found the needle in the haystack that is the Grand National winner, Sunday morning is likely to be spent hungover in bed, with the sound of champagne corks still ringing in your ears. For the rest of us, though, it is a different type of Cork that we are interested in, as we attempt to recoup our losses back on the Flat, with the thought of our selections not having thirty fences to negotiate offering some mild encouragement that today could be our day.
The first step towards redemption comes in the three-year-old handicap at 2.35pm, with The Names Jock fancied to go one better than on his first start for the John Kiely yard at Navan eight days ago. Nearest at the finish (beaten four lengths), that represented a career-best effort, and with the prospect of more to come after only five starts, a 1 lb rise in the weights is unlikely to stand in the way of another bold bid. The Stack family is likely to have fond memories of this weekend from years gone by – courtesy of Red Rum – and Fozzy could provide the main threat here, with Gatsby Cap starting out in handicaps from a potentially lenient mark.
The next bet comes in the Listed Noblesse Stakes at 3.45pm, with Echo Park fancied to provide the Jessica Harrington yard with another big success following that of Supasundae in Thursday’s Aintree Hurdle. Echo Park came a long way in a short space of time last season and signed off with a comfortable success at Dundalk in October, the form of which has worked out well, with the runner-up going on to win twice subsequently.
She has the scope to make an even better four-year-old, too, and is fancied to take the step up in grade in her stride on her reappearance.
The Ger Lyons-trained Zander flopped on his reappearance at Naas two weeks ago, but that was a much stronger race than this, and he looks one to keep onside if bouncing back in the handicap at 4.15pm. Indeed, the useful effort he produced when second on his final 2018 start at Listowel is by far the best on offer here – he is 4 lb clear of the field on Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings – and this looks a good opportunity for him to get back to winning ways, with the step up to 1m 2f expected to see him in an even better light.
Finally, Lyons would appear to hold sound claims of bringing up a double with Top Line Tommy in the concluding maiden at 5.20pm. Admittedly, the bare form of his debut fifth at Gowran in October is nothing special, but he actually shaped much better than the bare result on that occasion, caught further back than ideal and keeping on well late on (under hands-and-heels) to be beaten only eight lengths. He certainly appeals as the sort to make above-average improvement with that experience under his belt, and is selected to bring a busy weekend to a successful conclusion.