A good card at Naas on Saturday and we start off with a 2m Maiden Hurdle at 12.00 where Willie Mullins’ Blackbow makes his much-awaited reappearance. We didn’t see him last season through injury, but he’s in great form at home and his schooling has been very good.
He was a very good bumper horse, finishing fifth at Cheltenham to Relegate and the second to Tornado Flyer after a couple of wins at Leopardstown.
Fingers crossed he can get his hurdling career off to a flyer.
A small-but-select field line up for the Grade 3 Fishery Lane hurdle at 12,30, where you could make a case for five of the seven runners. Gardens of Babylon was probably the best of them as a novice, but can be inconsistent, Surin carries bottom weight for Gordon Elliott’s team and Arverne is a very interesting runner for Gavin Cromwell.
Willie has two declared in Tiger Tap and Quartz Du Rheu and it might just be the latter who has the fitness edge on these rivals in what is likely to be very soft ground at Naas.
The 13.05 is the Poplar Square Chase over 2m where Henry De Bromhead’s Ornua is the highest rated in the field having won a novice chase at the Aintree Festival last season. However, I had very high hopes for Cilaos Emery last season after he won a decent beginners’ chase at Gowran Park. He then picked up an injury that ruled him out for the rest of last season but is in good form at home so far.
I’m hoping he can get his career back on track at Naas.
In the 2m 4f handicap hurdle at 13.40 Willie runs Sayar in what looks a very competitive race. He should improve fitness-wise for his run on the Flat at Galway last month but looks just to have an each-way chance at best on Saturday.
The second maiden hurdle is off at 2.50pm where Gordon Elliott’s Column of Fire and Martin Brassil’s Longhouse Poet will be on many people’s list in the 2m 3f contest. Willie Mullins introduces Et Dite who won two AQPS Flat races in France, goes well at home and has schooled well.
However, his stablemate Elexir D’ainay in the JP McManus colours was second on his only start last season to Vision D’honneur but never got his ground after that.
Mark Walsh rides and I think he’s a good horse.
Willie runs three in the 2m 3f Beginners Chase at 15.25. While Voix De Tiep will love the ground and Getareason is a brilliant jumper, their stablemate Tornado Flyer would arguably be the best of these on reputation.
If I was still riding, I’d probably have done the same as Paul Townend and picked Tornado Flyer. Joseph O’Brien’s Tower Bridge looks a big danger to Willie’s chances of winning it though.
To finish off the card, Patrick Mullins rides Some Might Say for his father in the concluding 2m bumper at 16.00. Our bumper horses haven’t been winning with the same frequency recently, so it’s hard to be confident.
Denis Hogan’s More Info ran a decent race when third on debut to Larquebuse last month, while Jamie Codd’s mount Annieguire was second in a mares’ maiden point-to-point and carries a bit of a reputation into this contest. Other than that, the market may prove the best guide as it usually does in these races.
*Prices correct at time of publishing