Things could be better. It has been 9 days since my last trip to a racecourse. It could be 25 years since I went as long without a trip to a track. Turns out I’m not cut out for combat situations. Always suspected as much.
I’m a lover not a fighter.
Though I’m not getting any lovin’ either. Well I say that. HRI are showing me some. Their can-do spirit has kept Irish racing on the road. It means something to focus on, and has given a semblance of meaning to my days.
The flat season kicks off in Naas on Monday. Sir Dragonet is the star turn. He runs in the listed race at 4pm. I’m a bit worried that the Ballydoyle horses will need a run.
They were well forward last term but Aidan O’Brien mentioned that the mild winter was a factor there. It has been wet, wet, wet this winter. The Dragonet also has a penalty. This isn’t much of a race though. It will be disappointing if a horse with group one aspirations this season can’t get it done here. He won’t be much of a price though. Here are a few more appealing betting propositions.
Knight Of Malta runs in the maiden at 2.30pm. He’s one of my horses to follow for the season. He’s a son of Oaks heroine Was. He’s also one of the more impressive physical specimens I saw last term. It was hard to correlate what my eyes told me with the market indifference when he made his debut in Naas last October. He was sent off at 16/1.
Perhaps he hadn’t shown much at home. Perhaps he was still considered a bit weak. In the event he ran above expectations in finishing fourth. The third and fifth that day have won since. He actually broke well and looked fairly professional in the race. Not your obvious eye-catcher on debut granted. I’m going to trust my eyes though.
He has the looks and pedigree of a stakes horse. He has oodles of physical scope. He will need further in time but the deep ground in Naas will help. I suspect he’ll be favourite but not a prohibitively short one. Grizzly ran to a decent level on debut, and Dermot Weld’s newcomer Eshtiya has a classic entry.
The Madrid Handicap (3.30pm) is usually an interesting race. Elusive King is the one I’m most interested in this year. He was one place behind Knight Of Malta in that aforementioned Naas maiden. He was a more obvious eye-catcher, breaking slowly and running on under tender handling.
He put that experience to good use when winning at the track a couple of weeks later. As already mentioned I’m a fan of that first piece of form. Ken Condon did well with the full sister Elusive Beauty. She was a tough, talented, ground versatile sort. I’d be hopeful that Elusive King would be in a similar mould. If so he should be capable of doing some damage off a mark of 85.
The Park Express Stakes (4.30pm) looks a competitive affair. I expect Even So to be a backable favourite. She’s a filly of some potential. Ger Lyons usually has his horses ready to go at this time of year. This filly built on a taking debut third when bolting up in Gowran last September.
She holds some notable entries later in the season. She’s likely to want further in time but Colin Keane will ensure an adequate test in the conditions. She’s owned by John Magnier. Ger Lyons has earned the patronage of owners like Magnier and Khalid Abdullah. Even So can put another feather in the trainer’s cap here.
Hopefully, Ger can follow up in the maiden at 5pm. This looks a hot maiden. Emiyn and Russian Emperor both ran to a high level on debut. So did Lough Cutra. He was second in a backend Curragh maiden last October.
Due to lift issues I was late to the races that day so didn’t see the horse in the flesh. He looked a scopey sort on the telly. That form is untested but it was probably a decent race. Lough Cutra was notably keen through that race. It was to his credit that he stuck in for so long. His wide draw on Monday is a concern.
Colin Keane will be conscious of settling the horse. With plenty of newcomers I’d be hopeful he can get a position just off the leaders with some cover. We can also assume that his conscientious trainer will have worked on getting him to relax. If so this horse looks to have an engine.
Hopefully, he can motor home.