Cheltenham is just around the corner and there could be some clues on display at Naas today with the track staging three Grade 2’s, here are the thoughts of Horse Racing Irelands’ Martin Pennington on the action there today:
Aerlite Supreme has run well in all three bumper outings for the Michael Hourigan stable and is taken to put that experience to good use by getting off the mark over hurdles at the first time of asking here. The son of Gold Well has yet to race here at Naas and has been a beaten favourite the last twice, including when sent off a 5/4 favourite at Limerick at the end of December. He’s had a break since then and looks likely to go well for Adrian Heskin.
Sweeney Tunes was beaten just a head in a big handicap over 2m5f at Leopardstown last month by another novice in Farrells Fancy. He scored on his first outing over fences back in October at Thurles when beating the subsequent Thyestes favourite The Westener Boy by 13 lengths and though he was well beaten by two very useful types in Back In Focus and Lyreen Legend he looks a far more solid option than the favourite who’s had jumping issues in the not too distant past.
Rocky Wednesday is taken to get off the mark for the season for the Gordon Elliott yard in this 2m handicap hurdle. The son of Rock of Gibraltar was runner-up in this race last year off a 7lb lower mark and has been running in some hot handicaps this season, with his best run arguably when runner-up in the Boylesports Hurdle at Leopardstown last month. Amateur Jane Mangan takes a valuable 7lbs off and she has a great record when teaming up with Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud this season and Rocky Wednesday can go one better than in 2012.
Moscow Mannon has always been held in the highest regard by trained Brian Hamilton and last years Champion Bumper fourth got off the mark at the first time of asking over hurdles at Navan back in December when running out the easy winner of a 16 runner Maiden Hurdle by 2 ¾ lengths when sent off an odds-on favourite. Connections have bided their time with this triple bumper winner and the son Moscow Society is taken to maintain his unbeaten hurdles record by claiming a first Graded success here.
Days Hotel found his stamina stretched badly when upped to 2 1/2 m for the first time over fences at Thurles last month and the drop back to the minimum trip looks sure to suit Henry De Bromhead’s charge. Already a Grade 2 winner over that trip at Cork earlier this season beating today’s rival Realt Dubh in the process he comes out best at the weights today and judged on that effort retains all the ability he showed as a novice when a Grade 2 winner back in 2011.
Eoghan O’Grady’s Unoccupied shaped as though this step up in trip was likely to suit when scoring from previous winner Twin Plan on his first start over hurdles after a brief spell chasing at Thurles last week and though pulled up over 3m1f in his previous outing over fences at Punchestown that was off a 13lb higher mark than he races off today. Andrew Lynch takes over from Philip Enright today and crucially Unoccupied is at the bottom of the weights which is likely to prove a major positive on testing ground like today’s.
The John Kiely trained Kilbarry Beauty is taken to double her tally in bumpers here. Having been successful at Cork on soft ground last April she went on to run Willie Mullins useful mare Zuzka to 1 ½ lengths on good ground at Limerick. She hasn’t run since then but the style of her Cork success on her second outing (she’d previously run third at Clonmel) suggests this softer ground will be more to her liking today.