There are 14 Irish races across two meetings at Navan and Thurles today and Tony Keenan has found a few to back...
"Scoir Mear brings really strong form to the table. The race in which he was second to Jury Duty looks the best staying handicap hurdle run in Ireland this season and already the form has worked out down the field. Scoir Mear was beaten on merit that day but took the rise in class in his stride and this is a lesser race."
Yesterday's cards at Ascot and, in particular, Haydock were marred by heavy fog and it seems reasonable to ask what good is served by running these meetings. Having attended a few 'fog meetings' in recent years, I know they largely spoil the day for the racegoer while the experience is hardly any better for those watching at home. There are obvious integrity issues in such weather and there are safety ones too; in Ireland the jockeys are supposed to be able to see from one obstacle to the next for racing to go ahead and that had to be in doubt at Haydock at least where the result of one race wasn't known until minutes afterwards.
As for today's Irish cards, we have some 14 races to pick from at Navan and Thurles but in truth I thought betting opportunities were thin on the ground.
Thurles 12:30 - Scores much better than chase debut
Double Scores looked a decent prospect for chasing last term, notably on a strong-travelling but ultimately non-staying effort over three miles at the Fairyhouse Easter Meeting, and this distance should be ideal for him. His chase debut looks a shocking effort but that doesn't tell the whole story; not only was he well-backed but he was moving up smoothly into contention three out before a terrible mistake ended his chances.
Royal Caviar is the hurdling class of the field with a mark of 137 but he comes quite late to chasing being eight and finds wins hard to come by. Keppols Queen too was a classy hurdler but the early signs of her chasing career suggest she will struggle to meet that level.
Navan 13:20 - McManus runner has much the best form
Early prices have Gurteen in short here but there are plenty of negatives with him - 133 is high enough on his hurdles form; he may tie in with Min and De Plotting Shed, rated 154 and 150 respectively now, but their improvement came later on. Furthermore, this trip could stretch him as he is a notably strong traveller while I don't like the decision to revert from chasing at this early stage.
Kings Bandit, too, is short enough as his Cork form looks ordinary but Scoir Mear brings really strong form to the table. The race in which he was second to Jury Duty looks the best staying handicap hurdle run in Ireland this season and already the form has worked out down the field. Scoir Mear was beaten on merit that day but took the rise in class in his stride and this is a lesser race. He should be clear favourite on my prices.
Navan 13:55 - Back a couple to beat the favourites
The fancied runners in this staying maiden hurdle are worth opposing. Madurai is by Marju and never raced beyond 12 furlongs on the flat so has to be a doubtful stayer while the form of the bumper won by Stoneford didn't work out. Call The Taxie has looks temperamental any time he has been involved in a tight finish.
Glenloe looks the most solid of the shorter prices; a full-brother to both Alfie Sherrin and Hawkes Point, he seemed in need of a stamina test on his last run over 18 furlongs when he was disadvantaged by having to race wide for much.
Of the bigger prices, Vinalhaven is worth a small play too. He won a decent point-to-point back in November 2014 and seemed to be working back into form when sixth to Brelade last time; that was a good effort in its own right but he can be upgraded for going too hard from the front.
1 Point Back Double Scores @ 14.013/1 or bigger in the Thurles 12:30
1 Point Place Back Double Scores @ 3.613/5 or bigger in the Thurles 12:30
1.5 Point Back Scoir Mear @ 6.25/1 or bigger in the Navan 13:20
1.5 Point Place Back Scoir Mear @ 2.35/4 or bigger in the Navan 13:20
0.5 Point Back Glenloe @ 6.05/1 or bigger in the Navan 13:55
0.5 Point Back Vinalhaven @ 30.029/1 or bigger in the Navan 13:55
National Hunt Season P+L: -4.7 points