The opening race on the final day of the flat season at Naas doesn’t look the strongest with plenty of exposed runners looking for a change of luck today. Dee Sprinter, Fugacious, Linus Larrabee and Breaking News have had many chances to date, which is why the once raced TERRA ROSSA gets the verdict.
The Andy Oliver trained son of Showcasing was slowly away on debut before making nice headway to finish a gallant third at Navan just over two-weeks ago. Chris Hayes remains in the saddle again with both natural improving and the extra half-furlong looking good enough to see off these rivals and secure victory.
The Birdcatcher Nursery is always a cracking competitive handicap for the juveniles here at Naas with nine of the previous twelve winners carrying nine-stone or lower to victory. Other interesting statistics relate to the draw and winning SP’s since 2008, with eight of the last twelve winners drawn in stall 6 or lower and only one winner (Beau Amadeus in 2011) securing victory at a starting-price of over 10/1.
There are several runners with serious chances with those stats in mind, including Alarm Call, Colfer Kay and others doing battle again. WOOD RANGER catches my eye on many fronts with trainer Willie McCreery among the winners at the Curragh on Friday and who claimed success in this race with Childhood in 2017.
The lightly raced son of Kodi Bear took four-career starts to break his maiden which came here in a course and distance nursery on soft ground last month. Despite a big rise in the ratings that victory looked impressive on the eye, having travelled well and stretching away nicely for success. There is more to come from Wood Ranger who fits into a nice profile and should represent good each-way value in such a competitive contest.
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J.P McManus has three contenders in the November handicap where CERBERUS looks a very intriguing runner for trainer Joseph O’Brien. The son of Iffaaj had very good juvenile hurdle form last season, having won at Fairyhouse last December and placed at Chepstow and Leopardstown before finishing sixth in the Triumph Hurdle in March.
Despite remaining a maiden on the level, his return at Navan in September was a good performance before yet again stepping up in trip to finish second at Galway last month. He will appreciate the further increase in distance today and with Mikey Sheehy taking off seven-pounds, he looks nicely handicapped to go close with Royal Illusion and Haparanda just two of his main dangers.
Numerian has extremely good form in the book this season, beating Sir Dragonet here earlier in the season and finishing placed in the Mooresbridge, Alleged, Royal Whip and Trigo Stakes’ throughout the summer and intro the autumn. Late headway behind Amma Grace, who got first run on her rivals at Leopardstown for Dermot Weld, could suggest Numerian might appreciate the strip up in trip today.
I’m unsure if the extra two-furlongs will be an advantage which points me more towards siding with BARRINGTON COURT for Jessica Harrington. The J.P McManus owned six-year-old has improved all season and receives five-pounds from her main rival with Tom Madden replacing Shane Foley. She beat Dewcup easily in a maiden at Bellewstown before finishing second in the Oyster and Loughbrown Stakes’ in September. Those fine placed efforts saw her rewarded with victory in the Bluebell Stakes over course and distance here last month and she’ll go close again today.
Tips for Naas on Saturday
- Our Trader’s 5 To Thrive At Keeneland On Saturday Night
- Mick Fitzgerald’s 5 Saturday Selections At Aintree & Wincanton
- Jason Weaver’s 6 Slick Picks For Breeders’ Cup Saturday