Brendan Duke: Here’s four Sunday smashers from Navan and Salisbury

Forget that National Hunt business El Duke is going Flat out for winners at Navan & Salisbury on Sunday...

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Turns out a week is a long time in bankrolls. Took my bulging, post Tiger, wallet to Fairyhouse. There is now a hole in my roll. Quite the achievement to not back a winner for three days. We soldier on. An exciting week ahead for the Dublin-based racing fan. I’m giving strong consideration to starting my odyssey in Navan on Sunday, and going racing for six consecutive days. With Navan, Naas, and Punchestown all within a 45 minute radius, it’s unlikely that my journey will be recorded in poetry. Nonetheless, it will be a test of just how comfortable, my comfortable shoes are.

It’s to Sunday we turn for the tips this week. Saturday’s action is interesting, but betting opportunities appear thin on the ground. Always a treat to see Altior strut his stuff, of course.


The first thing to note regarding the Navan card, is the weather. The ground is already on the easy side of good. With 13 millimetres of rain forecast between now and start time, the horses will probably have to cope with borderline soft going.

The Vintage Crop Stakes (4.15pm) is the highlight. Remembering Dermot Weld’s high class, courageous stayer, never fails to raise a smile. A constant presence during my mid teens. He’s definitely one of the reasons racing is my abiding passion. Aidan O’Brien has reintroduced Order Of St George, in this race for the last couple of seasons. With his retirement, it’s reasonable to infer that Capri will be the Ballydoyle Cup horse of choice this term.

He will start a short-priced fav on Sunday. He likes cut in the ground, won first time up last term, and the yard are flying. Not a horse I would fancy taking a short price about though. Should Capri fluff his opening lines, Southern France looks the most likely to pick up the pieces.┬áHe began his career with a second at this meeting last year. Greenness got him beaten that day. He progressed through the grades after that. His best effort was a running on third in the St Leger. The subsequent Cesarawitch disappointment, is easily forgiven. It’s unlikely his improvement has plateaued. If we got a price, he would look a knocking each-way play against Capri.

There are two other listed races on the card. The Committed Stakes (3.10 pm) can go to the other O’Brien. Cava was a rare winning juvenile debutante for Joseph last season. She backed that up, with a close third behind So Perfect at the Curragh. That’s red-hot form. The only snag is the rain. Her family prefer quicker conditions. Talented full brother Hitchens, rarely raced with soft in the ground description. He did run alright on it once though. Cava appeals as a filly who could go a long way. It’s probably worth chancing her.


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Word on the street is that Pink Dogwood is currently Ballydoyle’s most likely Oaks winner. That should see her start a warm order in the Salsabil Stakes (3.40 pm). Second guessing Aidan O’Brien is a dangerous business. However, these fillies won’t really have been tested at home. It’s surely no more than a best guess? Hopefully the market will overreact to that guess. Stablemate Chablis is interesting. This filly has a rich middle-distance pedigree.

I imagine that’s one of the reasons she made over 1.5 million guineas as a yearling. She managed to recoup a fraction on that outlay last year, in a back-end maiden at Gowran. That wasn’t much of a race, but it’s probably worth taking the chance she can go on to much bigger things. Hopefully that will start on Sunday. She should be an each-way price to do so.

Finally, to Salisbury. It might be worth chancing Quloob to get his career back on track, in the 4.40 pm. This horse took off as a three-year-old. His rating improved two stone, in just four runs. Hopes were high that he would take another leap forward last term. His Newmarket comeback, though a little disappointing, wasn’t without promise.

His follow up effort at Newbury, was dismal. Connections drew stumps after that. He returns having been gelded. He has also had a wind op. Hopefully these measures can get him back on track. A mark of 95 would look lenient, if he can rediscover the form of that 2017 campaign. Owen Burrows has his horses in decent nick. Given his problems, the bookies might just underestimate Quloob’s chance.

*Prices correct at time of publishing but markets do move

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What do you think?