Naas host an interesting eight-race card before this week's cold snap and Tony Keenan has three horses to back this afternoon...
"Impact Factor on the other hand looks to have achieved much more on his maiden hurdle runs, second to Getabird and Paloma Blue on the first two of those, the latter the best time performance on offer in this field."
The 'Beast from the East' weather system threatens to wreck national hunt racing over the coming week and with it comes implications for the going at Cheltenham; will this cold snap leave unsettled conditions that give us a first proper soft ground Festival in a long time? The soft ground Festival has been a value loser for amateur weather forecasters for many a year but we are bound to get Cheltenham that is run on soft or heavy ground from start to finish at some point.
Perhaps it will be in 2018 but what this might mean for finding winners is unclear. The vast majority of the UK trials this season have been run on a slow surface and it's always that way in Ireland anyway. A lot of the puzzle of Cheltenham these days seems to revolve around finding the best Irish horse and perhaps that trend would become more important on soft or heavy going, remembering that those descriptions tend to be more extreme in Ireland.
Aside from those speculations, the ground at Naas this afternoon (soft) seems sure to be pretty testing on what is shaping up like a decent betting card.
The artist formerly known as one of the biggest thieves in Irish racing, Coeur Joyeux has become a more resilient horse since joining Philip Dempsey and being sent chasing, winning two of his seven starts over fences and generally running well in the others. He shaped with promise in a stronger race than this at the Dublin Racing Festival, up with a good pace for much before a mistake two out gave him every opportunity to throw in the towel, but he plugged on well to take sixth place. That form is already looking strong with the eighth and ninth winning since.
Coeur Joyeux came into that race having not run since mid-November - he missed an intended start in between with a temperature - so there should be improvement in him for fitness and his previous defeat of Sumos Novios was good on the clock with the run before that at Clonmel also working out. Fitzhenry in the same colours is an obvious danger but might prove best over a bit further than this.
This Grade 2 seems to have suffered a little with Willie Mullins running most of his best two-mile novices at Leopardstown in a bid to beat Samcro and brings together impressive maiden winners rather than those with proven graded form. Cartwright is an exciting prospect and showed reasonable finishing sectionals when winning over course-and-distance last time but it is fair to question what he beat and he does look a little on the short side.
Impact Factor on the other hand looks to have achieved much more on his maiden hurdle runs, second to Getabird and Paloma Blue on the first two of those, the latter the best time performance on offer in this field. His last win at Punchestown likely undervalues him a little as he was ridden to win rather than put up a figure but the second and third have both won since and he should be clear favourite for this on my tissue with prices bigger than [4.0] worth taking.
Goulane Davina was tenth in the same race as Coeur Joyeux last time but that doesn't tell the full story; not only was she four pounds out of the handicap but she also had to come from an impossible position and actually did well to finish where she did. This is a much worse race and it is worth pointing out that she finished third in a graded handicap to the thriving De Benno at Limerick over Christmas off the same mark as today before a slightly underwhelming sixth at Cork, granted that she did help force an overly strong pace.
She is not certain to get this three miles but there is no way she should be one of the outsiders of the field given she is the one runner that has been running in better races than this and generally with credit. Swingbridge is the obvious danger if he can finally put things together; his jumping has been the issue over fences but he comes here in good form.
2018 P+L: -12.75 points
1 Point Back Coeur Joyeux @ [7.2] or bigger in the Naas 14:40
1 Point Place Back Coeur Joyeux @ [2.2] or bigger in the Naas 14:40
1.5 Point Back Impact Factor @ [4.0] or bigger in the Naas 15:10
1 Point Back Goulane Davina @ [21.0] or bigger in the Naas 16:45
1 Point Place Back Goulane Davina @ [5.5] or bigger in the Naas 16:45