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We have a double header in Ireland on Sunday. Navan hosts the Flat action, while National Hunt enthusiasts get their fix in Punchestown and both are decent cards. If there is a potential star on show, it will probably be Prettiest. She is the first foal of Alice Springs and Pedigree aficionados will be salivating at the prospect of her debut effort in the opening maiden at 13:15.
Word on the street is that summer is going to break out on Sunday and that will help to dry the ground, but I’d guess that both venues will race on soft going. I’ve a couple of selections at each venue, with hopefully a winner or two among them.
As you might expect, there is plenty of potential on show in this three-year-old handicap. Bear Story and Snowy Owl look promising sorts. Iowa has plenty of ability, but I believe he’s a rogue and he will be taking a good chunk out of the market, so there’s value somewhere.
My hunch is that BATON ROUGE is the best option, as he has had a good start to the season. He bolted up in a Dundalk maiden and that race is working out well. He then ran second on handicap debut in Naas. That form has yet to be tested, but the winner is a horse I fancy to have a lucrative campaign.
Baton Rouge probably enjoys a significant class edge here and he gets first time cheekpieces on Sunday. He looks a straightforward conveyance to my eye, but Aidan O’Brien runners in first time headgear are always worth paying attention to.
He made the running in Naas and there isn’t much competition for the lead on Sunday, so may well enjoy a tactical edge. He will probably want further in time, so this stiff track will play to his strengths. A 2lbs rise for that Naas run looks reasonable and he should go very close here.
Over to Punchestown for a low-grade handicap hurdle and SHES SOME DOLL should go well. She remains relatively unexposed and she got off the mark in a maiden hurdle in Limerick last Christmas. That form of that race has been boosted since. I thought her opening handicap mark looked civilized, but she blew out in her next three starts.
She wore a tongue tie on her last run in Downpatrick, as perhaps connections discovered a physical issue that explained previous disappointments and her Downpatrick run was more like it. She clouted the opening hurdle and made a few other significant errors. Despite that she finished strongly, and was ultimately only beaten by 3 lengths.
Sunday’s slight drop in trip probably isn’t ideal, but the softer ground should ensure it’s an adequate test. She can jump better and if managing to do so, she must have a right chance in this company.
This staying handicap hurdle may offer punters an edge as Definite Plan heads the weights. He went very close to defying an 18-month absence in Killarney earlier this month and repeat of that effort might be enough here. He does look a prime contender to recoil off such a big effort though.
WALKING ON GLASS is interesting at what should be a decent price. He improved by the guts of a stone on the Flat last season and his Flat rating suggests he should have scope off a hurdles mark of 112. His latest effort in this sphere came last October, where he was third behind a handicap blot. It was a solid effort over a sub optimal trip.
Sunday will be the longest race he has ever run in, but I reckon that is a big positive. For a horse with a good record fresh, his recent comeback on the Flat in Killarney was a bit underwhelming. It wasn’t terrible though and I’m hopeful that his in-form trainer will have got him a bit fitter in the interim. There are enough positives to justify a wager, while he extra place on offer from Paddy sweetens the deal.
The last in Navan is a 23-runner handicap. Obviously, it’s a tricky puzzle, but I will chance a few bob on MUNTAHEZ. This horse is evidently considered well handicapped by connections and he was well backed three runs ago in Cork. He ran abysmally, and didn’t fare much better next time out in Limerick.
His latest effort was more like it, as he finished third behind a very solid yardstick. I don’t believe the race was run to suit him that day, as there didn’t appear to be much pace on. This horse doesn’t do anything in a hurry, so I’d be hopeful of a stronger gallop on Sunday and the stiffer track looks sure to suit.
Colin Keane retains the ride and he should know a bit more about the horse this time, as cheekpieces are tried too. Muntahez has previously run well in a visor and poorly in blinkers. The horse is definitely a bit enigmatic. But, with a bit of luck, he will improve slightly on that Cork effort. If so, he should be in the mix.
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