A decent card in Naas on Sunday, there are big fields, and big money are the order of the day.
Ballyhane Stud provide a couple of juicy carrots and this has tempted some UK based trainers to send their horses over in an attempt to plunder the big prizes.
Storm Ellen has had her way with the country, but Naas has held up pretty well in the circumstances.
The official going is yielding to soft. There isn’t much rain forecast for the weekend. Drying conditions should prevail. We’re probably looking at yielding ground.
The card kicks off with a Listed race over 7 furlongs. Current Option and Soul Search fought out a close finish in Cork a couple of weeks ago. Current Option came out on top that day, but Soul Search can take her revenge here.
She’s three pounds better off at the weights and Colin Keane takes over from Gary Carroll in the saddle.
Also, Soul Search was probably disadvantaged by track position that day. She can run a little bit free in her races.
A wide draw makes things tricky, but there are a few horses in this race who like to be on the pace and Colin Keane should be able to tuck in and pounce late. Soft ground would be a worry but, as mentioned above, I don’t think conditions will be overly taxing. This doesn’t look a particularly strong race and Soul Search can take advantage.
Paddy throws us an extra place bone in the 10-furlong handicap and EXCELCIUS may be worth a dabble at what should be a big price.
He has gone off at huge odds on all three starts since joining Tom Mullins and on two of those occasions the layers were correct to dismiss him.
It’s his penultimate start in the Curragh that I’m hanging my hat on and that day he finished second to Njord. Njord’s subsequent Galway heroics suggest Excelcius did well to get within two lengths of him.
Excelcius was well beaten in Galway and we can probably forgive that run though. It was a better race than this, and 12 furlongs on deep ground stretched his stamina.
He would probably prefer better ground on Sunday, but I’m sticking with my theory that it won’t be too testing. He can go close at rewarding odds.
Paddy are offering an extra place in this race and Devious Company sets the standard here.
He was second in a valuable sales race in York earlier in the week and he got a bit tapped for toe that day. The stiffer 6 furlongs on Sunday should suit better.
It’s a quick back up off a hard race though and our old friend MONAASIB rates the selection. This horse still has plenty of upside.
He’s progressive and he’s a strong traveller, which should help him navigate his way through this big field. He comfortably beat Artician last time out in Cork, so that suggests he’s a group race performer in the making.
He’s favoured by the conditions of this race and the bookies won’t miss him. I’ll be shocked if he can’t finish in the top four.
Hopefully Tom Mullins can have a big day and I fancy his NOT NOW ZEB to complete a hat trick in this 6-furlong sprint.
This horse had a busy juvenile campaign and didn’t look an obvious improver this season.
He has progressed though and his win over five furlongs in the Curragh last time was very taking. I dismissed him that day.
He looked to need every yard of an extended five furlongs in Navan on his previous start and it was hard to envisage him having the speed to cope with the drop in trip. He left it late, but came with a wet sail to get up late, so I rate that form quite highly.
The second has disappointed since, but a winner has come from the race and everything suggests that Zeb will relish the step up in trip here. Gavin Ryan takes off a handy three pounds, that’s why this horse looks worthy of a good bet.
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