Prior to Colin Keane in 2017, Declan McDonogh was the last Champion Jockey to win the title without the support of one of big two trainers, Aidan O'Brien or Dermot Weld. That win came in 2006 and McDonogh probably thought his days of winning such prizes were gone but having been 20/1 with the Sportsbook for the top jockey title a few weeks back he is now into 3/1.
The absence of Pat Smullen has opened a previously unforeseen door for him and a treble at Navan yesterday put him two ahead of Keane. It's very early days and McDonogh likely has a suspension coming for his ride on Knowing You at Gowran but Weld has his horses in good form and Keane may not be quite the good thing his current price of 1/2 suggests.
Naas 14:40 - Last year's winner Texas Rock can go well
Texas Rock seems perpetually overpriced and that again looks the case here as he reverts to what is his optimal trip. Certainly the five furlongs he raced over last time was too sharp but there was a bit to like about that run, racing on seemingly unfavoured near side at Curragh, he did well to pull clear of his two rivals. That suggested he could be ready to peak here which isn't surprising as he won the race last year and though penalised he may still be the best horse in the race. With no other front-runner in the field, there is also the chance of an easy lead.
Both the Halford horses are respected but look a touch underpriced and Chessman may prefer the mile at this point; while Archie Watson has shown himself a capable trainer thus far, he has still left John Gosden which has to be considered a trainer downgrade. Last time was ostensibly a step in the right direction for Brother Bear but he was again hanging in the finish and there could be an underlying physical issue that is holding him back.
Naas 16:15 - Oppose one O'Brien pair with another O'Brien pair
The evidence of Aidan O'Brien seasonal debutantes in the past suggests that Sioux Nation and Fleet Review could reverse Navan form with the pair that finished ahead of them but that belief seems to be in their prices already. They were seven and five lengths respectively behind Speak In Colours last time and he could be worth a small bet to uphold the form, more likely to handle this faster ground than The Broghie Man who thrives on soft.
Official ratings give Now You're Talking little chance, her 102 well behind the 114 of both Sioux Nation and Fleet Review, but time-figures suggest something else. She shaped a bit better than the result here last time, given too much to do as the race developed from the front, and the extra half-furlong is in her favour. She too is worth a small play.
Naas 16:45 - Band Of Outlaws can build on Navan promise
Ryan Moore's presence in the saddle on Bond Street seems have had excessive influence on his price and he looks too short; perhaps he has improved over the winter but his recent second when flattered by a soft lead doesn't really suggest that. His presence at the top of the market means a few of these look overpriced with Caffe Macchiato and Raphael of interest but perhaps the bet is Band Of Outlaws.
The Navan handicap he was second in last time was a messy affair but the form has worked out with both Platinum Warrior and Lisard Lady running well since and he was one of those disadvantaged by the run of the race. Held up off a slow pace, he travelled strongly into the race but was never able to get back the ground on the more forward-ridden Caffe Macchiato. A seven pounds weight swing and a more evenly-run race could help him reverse that form.
2018 P+L: -11.3 points