2.00 5f Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden (Plus 10 Race) (2yo)
The opening race is something of a shot in the dark for punters with all 8 of these 2-year-old’s taking to the stalls for the very first time. However, it’s hard not to be struck by the breeding of the Aidan O’Brien trained Lipizzaner who is half-brother by Uncle Mo to a 6f Australian Group 2 winner and is out of a Group 1 winner. On that basis he’s my selection although I wouldn’t be getting involved in a race like this at odds on.
2.30 6f Naas Nursery Of Champions Maiden (Plus 10 Race) (3yo+)
Another race where there’s not an awful lot to go on (but that’s the fun of the early part of the flat season) but again AOB is likely to head the betting with Knight of Malta who was 4th over C&D on debut in October. By War Front and out of an Oaks winner there’s probably more to come from Knight of Malta with the form of that first outing working out OK as the winner has since stepped into graded company while the 3rd has subsequently won with the runner up making the frame again elsewhere also.
Jessica Harrington’s Grizzly will wear a first-time tongue-tie and has been gelded since a respectable 4th on debut over track & trip but the form of that race looks rather weaker than the colt Knight of Malta so I side with the favorite here.
3.00 6f Naas Racecourse Launches The 2020 Irish Flat Season Handicap (3yo+)
This looks an absolutely cracking handicap and should serve up a treat as flat racing returns with a bang on Monday at Naas. Let’s start with Dundalk regular Dark Vader who has won 2 of his last 3 starts (both wins at Dundalk) and looks to have a good shot at transferring that form to the turf given he races off the same mark of 92 as when scoring on the AW last time and was only beaten over a length on his last turf start which was at the Curragh back in June. Dylan Browne McMonagle claims 7lb.
Mokhalad is a C&D winner who’s been operating at the minimum trip of late and looks well weighted with Colin Keane in the saddle for Damian Joseph English while Arcanears is another who has lit up Dundalk Stadium of late but faces a tough task off 17lb higher than his last turf mark.
Tresorier looks a big threat having made the frame in a massive field at the Curragh in October (6f) before going down by a head over a furlong further at Leopardstown and is now just 1lb higher.
Sendmylovetoyou is a lightly-raced filly who won her maiden on debut (6f) before running a cracker on handicap debut next time. Something must have been a-miss when dropped back in trip at Navan latest but you can never rule out Whelan & Halford and she could bounce back at a generous price here.
Finally, a note of caution also on ruling out Titanium Sky who ran in some hot races last year but was very up & down in the form book. Carrying almost 10-0 tomorrow and racing from a wide draw will probably be too much of an ask for the 4-year-old but a good run shouldn’t go unexpected.
With a rail draw and a generous price expected I like the look of an ew investment with Sendmylovetoyou.
3.30 7f Naas Racecourse Business Club Madrid Handicap (3yo)
Not quite as competitive on paper as the handicap that precedes it but there are some nice sorts involved here nonetheless. Hong Kong is a course winner (6f) who stepped back up in trip (7f) and into Group 3 company at Newmarket last time and is handed an opening mark of 88 for this handicap debut.
Lustown Baba won the valuable Foran Auction Final over the course and trip and has to beaten seriously while Justina is worth a market check being a winner over this trip on debut in Roscommon who performed well over a mile next time before being turned over as 15/8f at the Galway festival, better ground would suit.
Hong Kong looks a step above on what could be a good afternoon for Aidan O’Brien.
4.00 1m2f Devoy Stakes (Listed) (4yo+)
Sir Dragonet will go off a warm order here for you guessed it….Aidan O’Brien. However, the former favorite for the derby has disappointed before including when being turned over at 4/9f over this trip at the Curragh in August.
With that in mind, can we find anything to oppose the Camelot colt? Brogue was very impressive when winning on debut over this trip at Cork but the ground may be a concern while the same goes for recent Dundalk runner-up Numerian.
Halimi loves these conditions and will keep finding when others around him faulter so may be the each way bet at potential double digit odds but for me the obvious one is Sir Dragonet who’s class should shine through under the ride of Seamie Heffernan.
4.30 1m Lodge Park Stud Irish EBF Park Express Stakes (Group 3) (3yo+)
Conditions will play a big part in our first group action of the campaign where we could see Even So reverse the debut form with Blissful given the latter is tackling this trip for the first time and seems to prefer quicker ground while Even So won on the soft over this trip at Gowran last time and looks a potential big improver for the top team of Keane & Lyons.
Elsewhere, Hamariyna really catches the eye being rated 102, winning twice as a juvenile including the 1,000 guineas trial at Leopardstown but isn’t certain to totally appreciate the ground.
Lemista won over the mile in the mud at Gowran LTO but looks to have something to find on the top two which leaves me with Kiss For A Jewel as my final prospect. Clearly stretched too far over 10f latest, the Dermot Weld charge was beaten a neck over C&D when last seen here and looks a stayer in such conditions.
However, it’s hard to shy away from the likely favorite Even So who I feel will reverse the form with Blissful on what is just a third career start.
5.00 1m Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden (Plus 10 Race) (3yo)
Russian Emperor, Lough Cutra & Emiyn all catch my eye in the finale.
Russian Emperor ran green over 7f on debut at the Curragh when a 10-1 shot but stayed on extremely strongly to grab 3rd and should progress enormously for that effort if settling quicker at Naas while Lough Cutra was beaten under a length into second over 7f on debut also at the Curragh in October.
Emiyn is an Invincible Spirit colt whose dam was a Group 3 winner and Dernmot Weld’s charge just faded in the closing stages to miss out on a podium finish on debut over C&D on heavy going in November.
The ground is a definite concern for Russian Emperor but it’s hard not to be impressed with how he finished the last day and given it could be a red-hot day for the team of AOB & Seamie Heff it’s hard to look away from the son of Galileo.