Navan: 7 April 2018 (heavy)
5f 3-y-o+ maiden
Without even checking the form lines of King Of Leinster (by Zoffany) I would be likely to be interested in him as he is very familiar to trainer James Barrett who has previously handled four of the family for the same connections. They have been a reasonable success with Lake George (Alkaadhem) being the star who won 7 races and needed top of the ground. He was a 7f specialist. By contrast, Shes An Art (Excellent Art) won a single race over 11f but needed cut. As is not unusual in this game, the mare was covered twice more by Alkaadhem but produced nothing of the calibre of Lake George again.
King Of Leinster is showing every sign of improving the tally of winners for the unraced Elbio dam. On a day that saw my eye-catcher, For Pleasure, get Barrett off the mark for the season he must have been dreaming of a race day double as King Of Leinster came in for good support and went off a solid 4/1 chance following two placed efforts at Listowel and Cork on heavy ground over 6.5f and 7f respectively.
It’s clear that Barrett has a little bit of figuring out to do with this horse to get him to win but I’m reasonably confident that’s not too far away. He was ridden here by a 10lbs claimer with two previous wins on the board having been ridden previously on both occasions by Kevin Manning (who rode an outsider for Brendan Duke here). He was also dropping back from 7f to 5f and remains an entire colt. I thought I discerned the slightest sign of waywardness from the horse as he came under pressure but having looked well beaten he was staying on again at the finish beaten 6L in fifth. Seven furlongs looked to catch him out at Cork a week earlier so it looks as it 6f beckons. An interesting set of posers for Barrett who trained Barker to win A Pierse Hurdle in the days of wine and roses.
5f 3yo+ handicap (100 = anchor weight)
Des Donovan gained, deserving on your point of view, fame or notoriety when associated with Barney Curley gambles in the past and is now back in Ireland training from a base close to Tipperary town. He has trained three winners since his return in 2017 but clearly can train horses.
Dandyman Port (cleverly named!) was bought out of France for £75,000 following a good start to his career at two in 2016 , the highlight being a 5.5f win on heavy ground. Nine runs later, he is winless for Donovan although the good news is that he mark has fallen from 93 to 74 here and connections obviously think he is ready to win as he was punted into 9/2 favourite here under the eye-catching booking of Colin Keane. He only managed to finish sixth, beaten just over 5L. To my eye, the 5F looked a little short for him as having come under pressure early he was running on again as the winning post arrived. Sors won this race providing an early boost for my review horses.
He was blinkered and hooded on occasions last year but neither experiment was repeated. It is probably also noteworthy that whilst he was never particularly fancied prior to this run, he did manage two Racing Post Ratings of 88 and 83 last August (good-yielding) and September (heavy) so, on that basis, looks well handicapped. He has also been tried from 5f to 7.5f so we must accept for now that trips of 5f to 6f will bring out the best in him. I could see this horse being competitive in handicaps on the Curragh and definitely looks worthy of attention. One may assume that wherever he turns up next it will be on the basis of what Colin Keane has recommended.
1m2f 3-y-o handicap (45-70)
An interesting race of its type as it’s the first time last year’s two-year-olds get to run a distance in excess of one mile proudly carrying their new 2018 handicap marks so it can be a complete guessing game beforehand.
ATR’s Gary O’Brien found the springer in the market – although he may well have instigated the punt – in the shape of Noel Meade’s Art Of America with Colin Keane again called upon to try to get the gamble home.
He was backed into 7/2 favourite but was beaten 13.5L into fifth in what looked a tender ride to me when all chance of success had disappeared thanks to the enterprising ride given to the winner For Pleasure – another winner I found in my analysis in recent weeks.
Art Of America may not have enjoyed the ground but he was certainly travelling well off the pace a few furlongs from home before staying on reasonably well on the run to the line. Perhaps better ground will be to his liking but I’m fairly confident that Meade will get a good tune out of him from this lenient-looking mark of 64.
It should make anyone sit up and take notice when I relate that Meade had just two three-year-old handicappers last season that ran against their own age group and both won a combined three races from just eight starts for an ROI of 131%. That looks a stat to retire on!
1m5f 4-y-o+ 45-70 handicap
This race was of a little interest afterwards even tough quite a number of horses attracted support and it is unlikely I will be investing too much on any of them any time soon.
Runyon Rattler, Turasoir and Big Ego all attracted support here but I don’t really like these staying handicaps where a lot of the form is exposed and you are not playing with too much “give” in the handicap rating.
The real enigma in this race for me is Charles O’Brien’s Strange Notions who finished eighth. She’s now four-years-old and cost her owners €80,000 at Arqana in August 2015 but has never really raised a gallop so far in her flat career although she was fourth in a maiden hurdle at Naas in January. This was only her fourth-ever run on the flat (her first in a handicap off 58) and I have to suspect that she has some ability to persevere thus far with her although a hood suggests she is very headstrong at home and occasionally on the track. Given her initial cost it’s not surprising to see she is a half-sister to 4 winners including a French Listed winner over 12f. Of the quartet mentioned from this race, she goes into my tracker as one to keep an eye on. Warning: not one for the widows and orphans fund.
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