Tony Keenan has previewed the final Irish jumps cards before Christmas at Navan and Thurles and has come up with four horses to back across the two venues...
"Kauto Grand Mogol gets to race off 125 here having been placed in a hot renewal of the Martin Pipe off 135 in 2015; that was essentially a graded race with Killultagh Vic, Noble Endeavor and Roi Des Francs finishing ahead of him."
Irish racing fans are in for a lean time after today with just two Dundalk cards scheduled between now and St. Stephen's Day though at least we get the novelty factor of a rare Thurles Sunday card this afternoon.
If you think the pre-Christmas period is fallow - and let's face it, even the biggest Grinch has plenty to do this week if it's only studying racing to come - then wait until you see the schedule for January. The Dublin Racing Festival in February should be excellent but a month without Leopardstown is going to be hard going though again there is a Thurles Sunday meeting mixed in!
Navan 12:15 - Times a big price to build on Down Royal promise
This maiden hurdle is eminently winnable with no Mullins runner and the Elliott entry quite exposed; it seems those trainers are holding off their better horses for Christmas. Cask Mate is the obvious one but Curious Times looks overpriced after a promising hurdling debut up north. He was travelling well into that race before falling, likely to have finished third, and the form isn't bad with the second placing again since and the third winning at Limerick.
Improvement seems likely for the run last time and he is hardly coming from an inauspicious background having cost €65,000 at the sales and attracting some support in a Punchestown bumper last April. Given where this race falls pre-Christmas, a 115-type effort might be enough to win.
Navan 13:20 - Kauto can return to form on third start off a break
The sight of 16 runners will have many punters scurrying to find an each-way bet and in this race they would be right; not only is the shape appealing but there is a number of out-of-form and/or exposed types that seem to have little chance of placing. Kauto Grand Mogol might be put into those groups but that would be a mistake; he is becoming dangerously well-treated and there was promise in both his runs since returning from injury.
He gets to race off 125 here having been placed in a hot renewal of the Martin Pipe off 135 in 2015; that was essentially a graded race with Killultagh Vic, Noble Endeavor and Roi Des Francs finishing ahead of him. His return at Punchestown was decent considering the long absence, sticking at things while being scrubbed along before a mistake two out, before failing to get home over three miles at Clonmel having travelled well. I always prefer when horses that have been off a long time with an injury are brought back slowly and with that in mind the third start off a break might be the time to catch him.
Navan 15:00 - First To Boogie on a decent mark dropped in grade
Dont Kick Nor Bite should go well here having been a shade unlucky not to win at Gowran last time, a mistake two out leaving him playing catch-up in a race where they didn't go hard, but at the prices First To Boogie looks the play. He was particularly impressive in winning at Naas last month, allowing that his main rival unseated at the last, but the form has proved strong with that horse winning since and the distant third also looking well-treated.
He races off a seven pounds higher mark now which may not be enough and I am inclined to forgive his last run at Punchestown; he was backing up quickly after Naas and made a bad mistake as the race was heating up while it was in a much higher grade than this. Most of his racing has come over further than two miles but this looks like being well-run with the likes of Effernock Lad and Asitsohappens in the field.
Thurles 15:10 - Blinkers can improve Magic's claims back over hurdles
You can make a case that Call It Magic just isn't a hurdler but the price is too big to refuse here as a 140-rated chaser running against hurdlers rated in the 120s. His trainer certainly seemed to have a return to hurdles on his mind after the Galway win and while his run over the smaller obstacles at Cork in August was poor, it was his first outing of the season and came before the blinkers were applied.
Those blinkers seem to have brought about significant improvement and he could be hard to catch if given a forceful ride by Rachael Blackmore. Dom Dolo is the obvious alternative but he only beat the 121-rated Mighty Stowaway last time getting six pounds and that horse has been beaten in a maiden hurdle since.
0.5 Point Back Curious Times @ [19.0] or bigger in the Navan 12:15
0.5 Point Place Back Curious Times @ [4.5] or bigger in the Navan 12:15
0.5 Point Back Kauto Grand Mogol @ [21.0] or bigger in the Navan 13:20
0.5 Point Place Back Kauto Grand Mogol @ [6.0] or bigger in the Navan 13:20
0.5 Point Back First To Boogie @ [7.6] or bigger in the Navan 15:00
0.5 Point Place Back First To Boogie @ [2.5] or bigger in the Navan 15:00
1 Point Back Call It Magic @ [3.75] or bigger in the Thurles 15:10
2017 P+L: + 4.2 points