The strong support for HAZEL on her racing debut at Naas 13 days ago was nearly justified before she got collared close home. On that occasion, Donnacha O’Brien’s filly did plenty right and with the benefit of that experience under her belt, she should be very hard to beat.
The fact that she holds two Group 1 entries suggests she is highly regarded. Nimbostratus’ third-placed effort behind More Beautiful on debut looks solid and she should follow Donnacha O’Brien’s filly home.
Both Aidan O’Brien and Ger Lyons are represented here, but it’s likely they’ll have to play second fiddle to Johnny Murtagh, who holds a strong chance of extending his brilliant run with PUERTO DE VEGA.
The son of Lope De Vega made up considerable late ground when third to Admiral Nelson on debut and that’s the best piece of form on offer.
Throw in that he’s likely to improve from that, along with the fact that he holds entries in the Phoenix Stakes and the National Stakes, and he should be good enough to make it second time lucky here.
Plenty will fancy the Jessica Harrington-trained Protagonist, who has been making hay since racing resumed with two stylish wins. While there’s every reason to suggest that he may add to his tally, he’s now gone up 16lbs since his win at Gowran Park a fortnight ago.
Carrying top weight won’t be easy, especially giving weight to the likes of DELPHI, which appeared to be a surprise winner at the Curragh eight days ago. The market suggested that he might be in need of his seasonal reappearance, but he showed great tenacity under pressure and is sure to benefit from the step up to 1m 2f.
Given that he also holds an entry in the Group 2 Curragh Cup later in the month, the hope is that he proves better than a handicapper.
A really intriguing handicap with plenty of in-form runners vying for this valuable prize. Tauran Shaman was backed like defeat was out of the question in the Paddy Power Lincoln and he’s worth watching, as is Tartlette, who will be suited by the drop in trip after being nabbed close home at the Curragh.
However, they might all be up against it in taking on PATRICK SARSFIELD, who made a mockery of his handicap mark at Leopardstown 13 days ago. That looked like the performance of a group horse in the making and he can use this prize as a stepping-stone to better things.
Of the rest, it’s worth noting that Gavin Ryan has picked Saltonstall over Edification and that could be significant.
Plenty of familiar names from the National Hunt sphere and on hurdle ratings, this looks a fine opportunity for FELIX DESJY to return to the winners’ enclosure.
Not seen since finishing second in Grade 1-company at the 2019 Punchestown festival, after winning a Grade 1 at Aintree, Gordon Elliott’s charge looks head and shoulders clear on all known form. With Jamie Codd booked, he should have plenty in hand here.
After pulling off a hefty gamble at Bellewstown on Thursday, any market support for the Charles Byrnes-trained Thosedaysaregone should most definitely be taken seriously.
* Prices on our snazzy new bet widget are bang up to date.
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