Its the opening day of the Flat season at Naas this afternoon and the best bet on the card comes in the Group 3 Lodge Park Stakes at 3:40pm where the Dermot Weld trained YULONG GOLD FAIRY sets the standard and should prove hard to beat.
The improving filly scored in Listed class at the Galway festival last summer and then followed this up by taking the Concorde Stakes at Tipperary, a Group 3 contest – beating the likes of Smash Williams and stable-mate Imaging.
She is bred to improve with age and couldn’t be in better hands than master trainer Weld and would be no surprise to see her progress once again this season and possibly be seen mixing it in the highest company.
This looks a very winnable race for the grade, and though the likes of Delphinia are likely to show us more than we have seen to date its hard to see past YULONG GOLD FAIRY and she should take all the beating.
The highlight race on the opening day of the flat season in Ireland is the Irish Lincolnshire at 4:10pm and though a fiercely competitive affair the one that makes the most appeal and looks a cracking each way selection is the Richard Fahey trained CROWNTHORPE.
Fahey is always to be respected when sending one across the Irish Sea and could be significant that has pinpointed this race as the early season aim for the ultra consistent 4 yr-old.
He has solid handicap form over a mile, and the conditions look ideal as his best performances have always come with a bit of cut in the ground. The trainer has clearly got him wound up early before the ground turns too quick and this looks a clever bit of placing.
In the hope they bring that little bit of extra improvement Fahey has also added blinkers for the first time and is now running from a mark just 1lb higher than his last winning mark.
As mentioned previously this is one of the trickiest puzzles of the year to solve and market leaders such as Theobald and Karawan both look like could be potentially well handicapped, but at the prices it is the English raider Crownthorpe we expect to go close and offers cracking each way value.
Tom Symonds is a young trainer who is really starting to make a name for himself and looks to have a major chance of adding to his seasons tally in the staying handicap chase at 4:35pm from Carlisle with the progressive ROYAL CLARET.
It is a fair journey from Symonds Herefordshire yard up to Carlisle and therefore could be significant that he has pinpointed this particular race for Royal Claret, who hasn’t been seen since scoring in really good style at Plumpton back at the start of December. You would have to think there would have been plenty of other opportunities closer to home and therefore could prove to be a good bit of placing by the trainer.
She has been raised 7lbs for victory that day which does not harsh at all considering she won in good style by 10lengths, and very much gave the impression that there is plenty more to come. That was just her seventh run over obstacles and would think she is the type to improve further as gains experience.
Conditions look ideal, a test of stamina on a softer surface and everything looks set for another bold effort and rates a good bet at the current price.
Carlisle stages a National Hunt flat race to close the card which looks a well above average contest for the track and the one that we fancy strongly to take the beating is the Ian Duncan trained PORTMAN.
Though seemingly not much expected on debut, being sent off at 50/1 – the 4 yr-old put up a big performance, looking outpaced and pulling hard early doors before staying on in good style to finish third behind the well regarded and really well backed Nickolson. This looks a very strong piece of form and you can only mark up the run due to the way he raced in the early stages of the race, clearly suggesting he possesses a serious engine.
As mentioned above this looks a decent race of its type, with shrewd Wales based trainer Peter Bowen sending Equus Dancer up to the track and who would look the obvious danger, but it is Portstorm we expect to take the beating granted settling better in the early stages of the contest.
A race that is likely to work out well.