Horse Racing Tips

Sunday Irish Racing Tips: Mullins at the double

Naas
Mark Milligan is backing a Willie Mullins pair at Naas on Sunday

"Ha D'or has clearly had a few bumps in the road to be so lightly raced since that good run behind Zanahiyr, but it could be that he's about to start making up for lost time now"

Irish expert Mark Milligan is back to preview the graded races on the Naas Sunday card and fancies Willie Mullins to take home both prizes...

The quality on the Sunday card at Naas is all loaded towards the front end and we kick off with a 2m Grade 3 chase (14:00) that has a competitive look to it despite attracting just four runners. I say competitive because it's hard to rule out any of the quartet with great confidence, with each of them possessing a decent chance.

Likely favourite Captain Guinness won a similar race to this over C&D on his seasonal return in November, jumping soundly in the main and coming home nearly 5 lengths clear of Andy Dufresne, albeit in receipt of 7lb from that rival.

Henry De Bromhead's charge hasn't run at all badly on his last couple of starts - both of them coming at the top level - finishing third to Greaneteen in the Tingle Creek at Sandown before occupying the same position behind Chacun Pour Soi in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown last time.

Darasso has combined chasing and hurdling to good effect over the last couple of years, though his best recent form has been when back over the smaller obstacles.

The winner of a Grade 3 hurdle here last month, he followed that with an 11-length second to Teahupoo in a similar contest at Gowran just last week.

He's a horse who stands his racing well but it's worth pointing out he underperformed on his last chase outing when beaten a long way in handicap company back in September.

Mullins holds strong hand

Willie Mullins fields the other pair in the race, Blackbow and Cash Back, the former partnered by Danny Mullins while the latter is the mount of Paul Townend. It's interesting that on their last few starts the jockey bookings have been the other way round for these two, though I wouldn't be reading too much into that.

Cash Back was a 6-length winner from stable companion Classic Getaway over hurdles on his penultimate start before finishing fourth (one place and 11 lengths behind Captain Guinness) to Chacun Pou Soi in that aforementioned Dublin Chase last month.

He's clearly got it all to do to reverse that form with Henry De Bromhead's runner here.

Consequently, I'm going to side with Blackbow, who's stamina gave out when trying 2½m for the first time last time and who should be much better suited by the drop back to the minimum trip here.

Blackbow has been relatively lightly raced over the last couple of seasons but has bits and pieces of form that is at least on a par with what Captain Guinness has achieved, not least when second to Dunvegan on his seasonal reappearance at Fairyhouse last month, giving that one 5lb.

He's a sound jumper in the main and would probably have gone closer to beating Dunvegan on that occasion were it not for making his only mistake of the contest at the last. The handy 7lb he receives from Captain Guinness could well make the difference in what looks a tight contest.

It's also worth noting that Blackbow has sported a hood in most of his starts over the last couple of seasons, though that headgear was dispensed with on his opening two runs this year. That hood goes back on here, which may just allow this exuberant type to relax a little more, and if that's the case, he could well prove tough to catch.

Feature prize also fancied to head back to Closutton

The 2m Grade 2 novice hurdle at 15:00 also has a spicy look to it, with at least four of the field having plenty to recommend them.

Flame Bearer was an impressive 12-length winner from Micro Manage on his third start over hurdles at Fairyhouse last time, finally putting it all together having taken a few runs to reach his potential. It's also perhaps worth noting he was sent off at just 10/3 to beat none other than Dysart Dynamo on hurdling debut in December, for all he proved disappointing there.

Gordon Elliott has a plethora of riches in the novice hurdling division and he could have another good one in the shape Hiaou.

In with a winning chance before being brought down two hurdles from home at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, this son Saddler Maker made no mistake at Punchestown last time, showing a good attitude to come home nearly a length to the good of the Willie Mullins-trained Goven.

That should give the master of Closutton a good line into this race and I fancy his Ha D'or to come out on top and follow up his recent win at Fairyhouse.

Making all the running there, this well-bred French import won easily despite still showing signs of residual greenness (wandered early on and jumped a little novicey at times). His previous second to Au Fleuron on seasonal bow reads well in the context of this race and it's also worth noting that he finished third to Zanahiyr on his Irish debut back on Boxing Day 2020.

I'm not entirely ruling out Meet And Greet either, who was a convincing winner over this C&D last time, though the waters are obviously deeper here.

Ha D'or has clearly had a few bumps in the road to be so lightly raced since that good run behind Zanahiyr, but it could be that he's about to start making up for lost time now, and I'll be disappointed if he can't stamp his authority here, for all that this is a deep enough race.

Recommended bets

Mark's P/L

Staked: 106
Returns: 129.24
P/L: +23.24

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