Horse racing tips: five to thrive at Naas on Sunday

James Shortt previews a blockbuster day of Irish racing action

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

14:00 – CAPTAIN GUINNESS

This looks a nice opportunity for CAPTAIN GUINNESS to get back to winning ways for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore in the opening Grade 3 Chase at Naas. The son of Arakan does battle with Cash Back once again following their efforts behind Chacan Pour Soi in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown earlier this month. Despite having to give weight away to all rivals here, this looks his level following a similar course and distance success in the Popular Square Chase last November.

Elsewhere, Paul Townend and Danny Mullins swap rides on the Willie Mullins runners with Blackbow dropping back in trip and currently on a long losing run. Cash Back pulled hard in Foxrock and was well held by Captain Guinness on that occasion, so it’s hard to see the form reversed. Race tactics will be interesting in a small field with Blackmore likely to play her hand late, while Darasso returns quickly and races over fences for the first time since September 2021 for Joseph O’Brien. 

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14:30 – BALLSHANNON ROSE

Our very own Ruby Walsh was quite confident about the chances of BALLYSHANNON ROSE before her victory at Thurles last month and Paul Fahey’s mare can score again on Sunday. She battled extremely well to score from Jeremys Flame with that form enhanced earlier this week with victory from Gavin Cromwell’s runner at Thurles on Thursday. Lieutenant Command might prove the biggest danger with Eoin Walsh taking off 5Ilbs on his handicap debut over fences for Gordon Elliott.

15:00 – HA D’OR

HA D’OR couldn’t have won more easily when finally landing his maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse last month and can progress further by winning the feature Grade 2 Novice Hurdle this Sunday. The son of Nidor was a little green but jumped smartly to score from the front on just his fifth career start. His Irish debut third to Zanahiyr stands out and there’s no doubt the Closutton team have nursed him forward slowly over the past two-years. 

The Mullins team has a line on the ability of Flame Bearer after Pat Doyle’s runner finished third to Bronn here last month, before getting the better of the fellow Mullins trained Micro Manage at Fairyhouse. Elsewhere, Hiaou can improve for his Punchestown win for Gordon Elliott with both Goven and L’yser subsequently enhancing the form with victories. However, Ha D’or looks a horse on the rise and can secure back-to-back wins for me under a forward ride by Paul Townend. 

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16:00 – HIGHLAND CHARGE

Micro Manage has been a little frustrating having been turned over at short odds on all three starts over hurdles for Willie Mullins. The son of Rip Van Winkle just hasn’t lived up to his flat form and might have to settle for a place yet again in this maiden hurdle behind HIGHLAND CHARGE. The son of Fame And Glory has been unlucky not to win over hurdles yet having ran solid races behind some nice horses this season.

His sixth-place finish to Eric Bloodaxe here last November reads well with Joseph O’Brien’s runner along with Supreme Jet and Hiaou all securing subsequent wins to enhance the form. His second to The Goffer was also boosted with that horse securing a graded success at Thurles earlier this week. Meanwhile, his second to Sir Gerhard at Leopardstown at Christmas stands-out with Willie Mullins’ star winning again at the DRF and Ash Tree Meadow and Goven subsequent winners from that race.

17:30 – MUSIC DRIVE

The trainers involved in the closing bumper at Naas on Sunday will be thankful that Willie Mullins has nothing declared following his dominance in these races in recent months. MUSIC DRIVE just gets the vote over Sandor Clegane with both runners coming here following second place finishes behind two Closutton winners at Leopardstown in recent months. Music Drive did his best to give Redemption Day a race over Christmas with a tongue-tie now used and Jamie Codd in the saddle.

Sandor Clegane was impressive when winning on debut at Punchestown and did well to finish second to Facile Vega at the DRF earlier this month. There’s very little between the two with the dying ground conditions favouring both runners, but for me the use of Jamie Codd combined with the previous excellent record of the Cullentra House team in this race gives Music Drive the edge to take the finale. 

Naas Best Bets

14:00 – CAPTAIN GUINNESS
14:30 – BALLYSHANNON ROSE
15:00 – HA D’OR
16:00 – HIGHLAND CHARGE
17:30 – MUSIC DRIVE

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

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