There are just the two handicaps on today's Navan card, but they are attractive contests from a betting perspective and I'd like to think I have found a live one in each of them.
The first comes in the Navanracecourse.ie Handicap (15:20) and the Joseph Murray-trained Captain Cullen is the one that stands out at the prices. Formerly trained by Gerry Keane, he has won more than his share of races over the years, but he always made things difficult for himself by racing freely. I long suspected that a drop to sprinting might well suit him and he went a long way to confirming that at the backend of last season, making a successful drop to six furlongs at the Curragh prior to going very close in a valuable five furlong handicap back at that track on his next start.
Crucially, all three of his subsequent starts have come on ground that was too soft for him and thus his underperformance is easy to excuse. He also switched trainer at the start of this season and while he has been the only runner to represent Murray in his career thus far, he did shape well for a long way on his latest start at Naas, making good headway to lead prior to floundering on the soft ground inside the final furlong. He is now just 3lb higher than when winning well at the Curragh in August and 4lb lower than when second in a valuable contest over this trip at that track a month later.
The prevailing ground will suit, he is well drawn and this stiff five furlongs should play to his strengths. He looks set to run a big one.
The other handicap on the card is the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap (16:55) and, to be fair, it is very competitive indeed. The three-year-old Curvy probably sets the standard after her impressive victory over this course and distance and a 12lb rise might not be enough to stop the 775,000gns yearling purchase following up in this, but the Eddie Lynam-trained Princess Glamour looks to represent value against her.
The daughter of Authorized took her time to get organised once entering handicaps last season, but came good when getting off the mark in a mile handicap on soft ground at this track in October. She won with plenty of authority on that occasion and while the form doesn't read at all badly, she was allowed to start the new campaign off just a 2lb higher mark.
She very much caught the eye on her return to action in a mile handicap on heavy ground at the Curragh a fortnight ago. She raced a bit fresh and was well buried in the rear, getting a bit squeezed up and still being in last position with a furlong-and-a-half to race, but she finished nicely from that point to pass 10 rivals under a considerate ride.
While it was a more than satisfactory comeback that she could be expected to improve from in any case, there is the potential for further improvement being brought about by this step up to a mile-and-a-quarter. While there is plenty of speed on the dam side of her page, she is by the stamina influenced Authorized and now looks ready for this extra distance.
Princess Glamour is well drawn and expect her to be dropped in early in a bid to give her the best chance to settle over the longer distance, but also expect her to be coming home well and hopefully get seriously involved in the finish.
Back Captain Cullen 2pts each-way @ 15.014/1 or better in the 15:20 at Navan
Back Princess Glamour 1pt e/w @ 15.014/1 or better in the 16:55 at Navan
Current P&L for 2015 Flat season