Navan hosts a seven-race card this afternoon and Tony Keenan has two horses to back at the Meath track...
"Jer’s Girl really wants two-and-a-half miles and her record in three attempts over that distance is good; she won a pair of Grade 1s and fell when travelling quite strongly in the Mares’ Hurdle last March."
Joseph O'Brien's win in the Melbourne Cup has rightly dominated the racing news cycle this week and it was obviously a huge achievement, Rekindling becoming just the third Irish-trained horse to win the race. His victory does however bring into the focus the great difficulty of measuring human achievement in racing where context and opportunity matters so much.
O'Brien has had almost every advantage in racing: he learned at the foot of the best, rode many of the best and now gets to train some of the best. Part of me believes that the O'Brien family are simply special horse people with a knack for getting the best out of the animal and there certainly seems to be an aura around Aidan that few other trainers have.
There is another aspect of me that wonder if there is someone, perhaps multiple someones, out there working anonymously in racing that could do just as well if not better but who will never get the chance - a mute inglorious O'Brien, if you like!
Anyway, onto today at Navan where the track has definitely drawn the short straw in terms of the weekend cards with Naas getting the much better fields yesterday. Bets look thin on the ground in truth but hopefully there will be more opportunity at Punchestown next Sunday.
Apple's Jade is brilliant mare, never out of the two in 11 career starts, and I think she would be a real player if sent for the Stayers' Hurdle in March, improvement likely as her stamina is drawn out. First time out might be the time to oppose her though especially as she carries a Grade 1 penalty and her old rival Jer's Girl looks the bet.
The Gigginstown runner got the better of Jer's Girl when they first met as juveniles back in 2015 but that doesn't tell the whole story as the selection went too hard up front. Both went on to significant success as four-year-olds but where Apple's Jade improved again last term, the wheels came off for Jer's Girl.
Things seem to have gone smoother this time, however. She returned with an easy win on the flat in Roscommon before running about as well as could be expected in the Istabraq Hurdle; not only was she backing up quickly but the two-mile trip around Tipperary is too sharp for her now.
Jer's Girl really wants two-and-a-half miles and her record in three attempts over that distance is good; she won a pair of Grade 1s and fell when travelling quite strongly in the Mares' Hurdle last March. Things set up well for her on that count today and she could catch Apple's Jade for fitness.
The 15 runners make this an unappealing each-way race, but even though the Sportsbook is paying four places, for the purposes of this column however, a win-only bet on Oscars Den is advised.
He shaped well on his first start of the season when gambled on at Tipperary, likely to have placed but for a mistake at the last. On the surface, his seventh place finish at Punchestown looks a backward step but I'm not sure it was as the trip seemed to stretch him; he may have won over further than two miles when trained in Wales but that was in a poor race. He went keenly through the Punchestown race and this stiff two miles could be ideal and certainly this looks the weakest race he has contested this season.
2017 P+L: +4.8 points