Racing from Naas
Live on Racing TV from 2.00pm
First Race: Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden (off time 2.00pm)
Yesterday gave us another winning day, with The Very Man finding plenty to win and then making up for Cheb De Kervinou’s poor performance in an Ulster National that saw many of the leading contenders fade out of contention.
We are blessed that the show keeps on going today and in these tying times we have a real treat – the beginning of the Irish flat season at Naas today. What’s more, we’re also going to be treated to not just one, but two pattern contests as well, albeit on ground that has been listed as heavy. All eyes will be on Sir Dragoney in the Devoy Stakes (4.00) as the son of Camelot makes his return to the track.
The wide margin winner of the Chester Vase last season, Sir Dragonet ran well to be a close fifth in the Derby and needed his run after a mid-season break in the Royal Whip Stakes before then finishing fourth in the Leger, a finish that might have disappointed many of his fans.
That is a mile – or at least 10lbs – clear of anything that his rivals have done so far, but that was his peak rating and whilst some might thing the 8/13 about him making a winning return is actually generous, there are reasons to be cautious. The biggest amongst them is probably his return from an absence in the Buckhurst Stakes, when he was plainly not at his best – and also looked tapped of speed at the trip – and whilst the ground today could bring his stamina into play, one must ask how ready he is – a great deal of Ballydoyle colts have come on a lot for their first run.
Impressive Cork maiden winner Brogue needs a lot of respect whilst Joseph O’Brien’s Numberian is interesting given is handler’s good form and his progression, but the ground is a concern for him and could be the great leveller here. Halimi has proven himself very versatile regarding trip, having gone from a 10-furlong handicap win here – on a mix of soft and heavy ground, no less – to a runner up finish in the October and November handicaps. He would be adversely affected by a slowly run race, but few will be finishing stronger and he appears overpriced given the conditions.
The Park Express Stakes (4.30) is another fascinating contest with the impressive maiden winner Even So leading the market. She looked a group horse when making short work of her field at Gowran, beating a handicap winner up and maiden winner by nearly four lengths.
The Ger Lyons stable has a strong hand here with Lemista, who made it third time lucky when taking a 1m maiden at Gowran in October on heavy ground. The form of that is strong if taking a direct line through the second and her presence, along with that of Kiss For A Jewel – who had been progressive before failing to stay over 12 furlongs at the backend of last season – makes this a race to watch.
So is the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden, given the ground and the fact all will be debutants, although it is a race with a rich history of finding class early season prospects. The Naas Nursery Of Champions Maiden (2.30) is a nice enough race without needing to be a betting contest, and the other bet on the card comes in the Naas Racecourse Launches The 2020 Irish Flat Season Handicap (3.00).
There are plenty of strong contenders, but a dive through the form shows that Tresorier was unlucky not to take a 7-furlong handicap at Leopardstown but for getting a run at the right time, and if he can repeat that or his third at the Curragh, both efforts coming on soft/heavy ground, and if he’s ready to start today then he can make a bold bid.
PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 179.38 points
(Excluding Premier League ante-post, Six Nations Outright, Six Nations Specials, Labour Leadership Contest, Cameron Brown Football Bets, New Hampshire Primary)