It's all jumps racing this afternoon at Navan and Tony Keenan has found six horses to be interested in...
"It seems a long time ago when Misty Millie bolted up at this course in a flat maiden in April 2016 but she has been reinvented as a hurdler by Garvan Donnelly this season, winning twice back in April and May and shaping with distinct promise in two runs since her return."
A Sunday jumps card at Navan is a strong sign that winter is coming but most of the horses from Irish Champions Weekend just gone will have at least one more run this year so the flat is not quite done with yet. Two that stood out from the meeting as horses to follow were Kenya and Who's Steph.
Whatever the ground was on the outer track at Leopardstown last Saturday - and there were conflicting views on the subject - it was almost certainly on the fast side for Kenya in the Boomerang Stakes. In the circumstances he ran an excellent race in trying to make all, sectionals suggesting he went too hard, and having been out of sorts in the early part of the season he has now put two career bests back-to-back. The likelihood of slower ground this autumn means lots of opportunity for him.
On the subject of career-bests, Who's Steph did similar in coming second to Eziyra in the Blandford and that was conceding race-fitness to the winner and the consistent third I'm So Fancy. Her break was by design as the ground had been too quick over the summer and she did well to get so close coming from further back than ideal. It's hard to think of an obvious next race for her but with 10 furlongs now within her compass there are more possible targets.
Navan 14:05 - Take Hyperdrive and Rare Conor against the potential horses
Batts Rock is a classy sort to go hurdling with, well worth his flat mark of 91, and there is every chance he wins on debut here but prices around 3.02/1 are short enough in a deep race. The early betting suggests Advantage Point is his biggest danger but despite winning a bumper he doesn't totally convince on the attitude front and is a lot shorter than Hyperdrive who beat him at Galway.
That Galway form has worked out well and while Hyperdrive doesn't have the same scope for improvement as the Harty runner he has run two good races over hurdles now and should be thereabouts. He is overpriced as is Rare Conor who while struggling to put two runs together shaped well at Killarney last time. That run came off a 107-day absence and the form has worked out and nor was he helped by a mistake three out as the race began in earnest.
Navan 14:35 - Misty Millie can land third hurdles win
This looks a strong contest for a 0-116 but Misty Millie was my idea of the favourite and is worth backing at current odds. It seems a long time ago when she bolted up at this course in a flat maiden in April 2016 but she has been reinvented as a hurdler by Garvan Donnelly this season, winning twice back in April and May and shaping with distinct promise in two runs since her return.
She may have finished only tenth behind Rovetta at Galway but travelled strongly through the race despite being trapped out wide and looked sure to be placed at the bottom of the hill before lack of fitness and racing wider than the rest took its toll. Better was to come at Listowel next time when she chased home the well-backed Bay Hill, again not ideally suited by racing wide and having to circle the field, that track rarely favouring those sort of tactics. Ideally she would have preferred some rain but she is still worth a win and place bet.
Navan 15:40 - Good ground can help Smitty Bacall bounce back
There is a chance Smitty Bacall has gone out of form after a long summer judging on his recent pulled up effort at Listowel but there may be other reasons; the ground was much too soft and he wasn't helped by a bad mistake four out. His previous defeat of Lasoscar shows him in a much better light and he generally gives his running on better ground; in 10 runs on good going, he has only once finished out of the frame.
Of the rest, Veneer Of Charm has to prove he stays this far (he barely got 12 furlongs on the flat) and might be better suited by a big field and some cover; he ran about plenty when hitting the front in the Fred Winter. Madison To Monroe was an expensive buy at £300,000 and while he won last time at Tipperary, that was not a strong race and he is off a break now.
Navan 16:45 - Lasoscar and Fenlon's Hill two against the field
Most of this 15-runner field are quite exposed with Abbey Magic an exception; he could well win if improving on his first run for Henry De Bromhead but that is in his price and his keen tendencies could be found out at this stiffer track. Lasoscar is a solid alternative having been in fine form all summer and his chase mark may still be lenient in light of most of his recent races coming over hurdles.
Fenlon's Hill is the other one to be interested in. He has also run consistently well this summer without screaming he is well-treated but his most recent run at Perth was interesting. Despite being 10 pounds wrong at the weights, he got within seven lengths of horses like Hammersly Lake and Charbel and there seemed no fluke about it as he was still there two out. The handicapper has basically ignored that race and actually dropped him a pound for it despite his seeming to have run above himself and it is worth taking the chance he can prove it right.
2018 P+L: -16.3 points
Tony Keenan 2018 P/L
0.5 Point Back Hyperdrive @ 13.012/1 or bigger in the Navan 14:05
0.5 Point Back Rare Conor @ 13.012/1 or bigger in the Navan 14:05
0.5 Point Back Misty Millie @ 11.010/1 or bigger in the Navan 14:35
0.5 Point Place Back Misty Millie @ 3.55/2 or bigger in the Navan 14:35
0.5 Point Back Smitty Bacall @ 7.06/1 or bigger in the Navan 15:40
0.5 Point Place Back Smitty Bacall @ 2.26/5 or bigger in the Navan 15:40
0.5 Point Back Lasoscar @ 5.85/1 or bigger in the Navan 16:45
0.5 Point Back Fenlon’s Hill @ 10.09/1 or bigger in the Navan 16:45