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A really competitive card, and we open with a decent 5-furlong Stakes Sprint where THE HIGHWAY RAT stands out for me. You can put a line through his last run over 6 furlongs, but he’s won twice over course and distance so we’ve no worries there. He may take a lot of beating, while Harry’s Bar maybe the one to chase him home. He’s my NAP of the night.
A Listed 5 furlongs sprint for two-year-old’s and it’s a wide-open contest. Jamie Spencer stays on from Bellewstown on Thursday to ride Sassy Rascal for George Boughey, but the contest could centre on Ger Lyons’ GEOCENTRIC and Johnny Murtagh’s Ladies Church. The latter got a 3lbs penalty for a Listed win and that may just swing it in favour of Geocentric, who has a good draw in stall one.
Split Passion may head the market, but has had plenty of chances without yet getting her head in front. Meanwhile, Joseph O’Brien’s New Moon Rising will be popular too. The value for me lies with ALQABEELA and trainer Keven Prendergast has a good strike rate at the track recently. She looks to be coming back to herself and the drop down to 7 furlongs from a stall four draw will suit.
A 7-furlong Nursery handicap where a lot of these are quite tightly matched and a few are making their handicap debuts. Common Practice and Papa K both make their handicap debuts for Joseph O’Brien and Jessica Harrington respectively.
However, I’ll stick with the old adage of the best horse in a nursery usually carries top weight and I’ll go for NERO TULIP, who also makes his handicap debut. He dead heated with Aidan O’Brien’s Leinster House (who runs in the 18:45) at Naas and looks the one to beat.
Aidan O’Brien has won this Listed race on six occasions in the last 10 years and is represented by Leinster House. We should get another guide to his chances by how Nero Tulip runs in the 18:15, but he’ll have to be pretty smart to beat Ger Lyons’ MARKAZ PANAME – who was an impressive winner at Cork last time.
Absolute Ruler is a course winner and had a luckless run at Leopardstown on Champions Day and could bounce back.
Burning Lake form stall two will be popular while Jack Berry House was heavily backed when third last time at this venue, but has to race from stall 17 which won’t help his chances.
The most interesting one for me looks to be ACARI, who is trained by Gary Caldwell and ridden by Colin Keane. He could have a bit of upside to him with the cheekpieces on. Ignore his run last time on soft ground at Gowran Park, as before that he was eye-catching on good ground at Tipperary. Off a mark of 52 in this one, he can go close.
A 1m handicap is the penultimate race on the card and BRIGHT GLORY should get us out of a hole – if we’re in one. He has a good draw in stall seven and can win for the first time in five starts for Mick Halford and Ronan Whelan after a promising eighth at Gowran Park.
* Read more of Fran Berry’s top tips at SportingLife.com
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