It's the final day of the flat turf season in Ireland at Naas along with the Cork National Day at Mallow. Tony Keenan has five horses to back across the two cards...
"Law Girl's second to Limini over Irish Champions Weekend in a good time puts her in the mix and she could have won that day with more luck while she looked a non-stayer in the Cesarewitch having travelled strongly."
Dealing with Samcro now is more cold cut than hot take but I may as well give my thoughts; it seems everyone else has! As a seasonal return, his second to Bedrock was not a bad run; if a top-class hurdler had done it, most would deem it satisfactory but for an apparent superstar it hardly delivered the brilliance that had been expected. He jumped a bit big but travelled best, staying on again in the finish having possibly been out-speeded over a fast two miles.
The obvious target for him could be the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse but that is a problem because not only do Gigginstown have Apple's Jade for that race but also because that it is an end in itself; there is no logical Cheltenham contest that the Fairyhouse Grade 1 leads into, the Aintree Hurdle being the most similar race in the calendar.
When connections were deciding what to do with Samcro this summer, it looked a straight Champion Hurdle versus Gold Cup call, if not this season then next for the latter, but what happens if there is no ideal race for him at the Festival should he stay over hurdles? Earlier this year, Michael O'Leary was roundly mocked for suggesting there should be a 'championship hurdle over two-and-a-half miles' at Cheltenham and how ironic would it be if that was the very race his great hope would be suited by?
Robin De Foret and Winter Escape dominate the market for this Grade 3 novice chase but the former has a penalty and continues to jump moderately while the latter had little to beat in his Galway win allowing that he was impressive. An upset may be on the cards with Young Turk perhaps the one to provide it.
Like so many Gigginstown horses he looks to have improved for chasing and while he took three goes to break his maiden over fences, it was understandable that he needed his early runs as he had been off the track for 10 months. He beat a pair that had been rated 134 and 133 at their peak over hurdles last time and with a bit in hand too, his jockey seemingly keen to arrive late with one run. Those tactics showed him to good effect and hopefully Davy Russell will be able to use a similar approach this afternoon.
The ground may be a little soft for Song Of Namibia but with his mark dropping and some distinct recent promise he is worth a small win-only bet. He was out of sorts for much of the early and middle part of the season but as a consequence his rating has fallen from 92 to 76 and there was more to like in his course-and-distance ninth in early-October. After missing the break a little, he repeatedly met trouble in the straight, finishing with plenty to give and dropped another three pounds as a result.
Since then he won a charity race easily at Leopardstown which doesn't show up in all form guides, comfortably reversing his Naas running with Uncle Henry despite being worse off at the weights. That horse is rated 80 and they pulled 11 lengths clear of the third so the form looks reasonably solid considering the type of race it was.
Willie Mullins sets us his usual multiple-runner challenge in these valuable staying handicaps, 10 of his going to post here, and perhaps Pakora is worth chancing at a big price. She was very impressive over hurdles at Galway beating Holding Pattern and Canardier and while beaten at [1.2] next time she returned lame so that effort can be forgiven. Her flat form isn't the easiest to equate as she hasn't run on the level since August 2016 but that fifth in the Prix Minerve worked out ok; the second won a pair of Group 2s subsequently along with getting Group 1-placed while the fourth won a listed race soon afterwards. It is hardly unreasonable to expect Mullins to have gotten some improvement out of her and if he had run back on the flat after Galway she would be a much shorter price than is available now.
The Irish Cesarewitch form could have a big part to play here with the first five all declared though the third Mr Everest needs one to come out to get a run as first reserve. That is very possible as he is jocked up and his connections have Golden Spear in the race who won at Down Royal yesterday; he would be no forlorn hope if taking his chance. Still, I expect Mr Everest to get in and he looked the one to take from the Navan race, doing best of those held up in a race where the principals were up with the pace and also having to weave his way through.
The ratings have the final race of the flat turf season between Riven Light on 112 and Mustajeer on 108 but there are reasons for looking elsewhere. Riven Light is coming off a bad run in Korea and looks a fast horse at this point in his career, the striking thing about his second Galway Mile win being how he travelled through the race and he didn't look like he wanted 12 furlongs. Mustajeer acts well around Naas and was a good fourth in the Ebor but his temperament tends to hold him back and may not be entirely worth his mark.
Romiyna has a chance and the blinkers might sharpen her up as she looked a bit paceless last time but Law Girl looks the bet. It is no certainty she will take part having run at Lingfield on Thursday but opportunities on the flat are about to run out and she seems much better in this code. Her second to Limini over Irish Champions Weekend in a good time puts her in the mix and she could have won that day with more luck while she looked a non-stayer in the Cesarewitch having travelled strongly. The Lingfield run was only ok but she met some trouble there and may not have enjoyed the all-weather.
Tony Keenan 2018 P/L
0.5 Point Back Young Turk @ [14.0] or bigger in the Cork 14:10
0.5 Point Place Back Young Turk @ [3.2] or bigger in the Cork 14:10
0.5 Point Back Song Of Namibia @ [9.0] or bigger in the Naas 14:30
0.5 Point Back Pakora @ [23.0] or bigger in the Naas 15:00
0.5 Point Back Mr Everest @ [14.0] or bigger in the Naas 15:00
1 Point Back Law Girl @ [11.0] or bigger in the Naas 16:05
1 Point Place Back Law Girl @ [2.7] or bigger in the Naas 16:05