Today's hugely valuable fixture at Naas has the look of something of a minefield, particularly with heavy rain yesterday turning the ground to soft. However there are a couple of runners who stand out as being just too difficult to resist so we'll roll the dice and see what happens.
Lavery filly improving fast
The Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes, worth a whopping €320,000, tops the bill and I was initially quite keen on the claims of last week's Cork scorer Monaasib. However his price has caved in this morning so it's on to the consolation race at 15:55 instead for the first wager of the afternoon. Richard Fahey's duo Bankrolled and Abduction, both of whom took the runner-up berth on their sole outings to date, command automatic respect here but my vote goes to Avagardner.
Sheila Lavery has had a much quieter year than one would normally expect but there have been some encouraging signs of late, not least this Showcasing filly's victory at a big price at Dundalk eight days ago. Having left a nondescript Fairyhouse debut behind with a promising eighth at the Curragh in July, that third foray saw her turn over the strongly fancied Sense Of Style at the County Louth track, and a glance at the latter's previous effort at Navan suggests it should be regarded as a notable scalp.
Joseph O'Brien's charge had finished sixth to the very smart Frenetic in June, with a host of useful types around her, yet despite the confidence behind her ahead of that second outing she appeared to be beaten fair and square.
One of just three previous winners in the field today, Avagardner is unproven on easy ground but is hardly alone on that score and the way she coped with a more demanding than usual polytrack surface is certainly a plus. Her price has rather disappointingly contracted in the last few minutes, but with four places on offer on the Sportsbook I think there is just about enough juice left in the 11/1 for an each-way bet.
In the €40,000 six furlong handicap for three year-olds which follows, Silver Spear looks the interesting one following a promising seasonal bow at the Curragh nearly a month ago. Andy Slattery's filly travelled powerfully into contention two furlongs out on that occasion before flattening out close home but all told it was a very satisfactory return and she at least holds a sporting chance of turning the tables on her conqueror Not Now Zeb on 6lb better terms.
Testing ground will certainly hold no fears for the Clodovil filly, who shed her maiden tag in similar ground at Fairyhouse last autumn before performing creditably at a higher level on her final start of the campaign.