Alan Dudman looks at Sunday's card at Naas, and he's going for a big price selection in the feature Leinster National...
"He finished second in an Irish National last April from 140 in heavy ground, but he's a fragile horse for a 12yo and he has been pulled up in his last two starts."
No confusion in backing Mister Blue Sky
The 15:15 2m Kingsfurze Listed race over hurdles brings together all sorts of strands of form and lines. There's a bit of everything here; ex-UK Flat racers, previous French runners and certainly a couple of stayers that might struggle with this minimum trip.
The two that are up against it in terms of finding this happening too quickly could be Gallant John Joe and Thunder Down Under. Click here to read what Gordon Elliott has to say about the latter, but he looks a horse for the future and a trip. Gallant John Joe ran in Commander Of Fleet's Grade 1 at the Dublin Racing Festival over 2m6f, so it has to be a major worry with him back down in distance in a small field, but I respect him as a horse.
Hearts Are Trumps is an improving handicapper, and a good one who has competed in some competitive races. He's shot up 24lbs since October.
Throw in the forecast rain - and that might do for the chances of Retribution. So it leaves me with the Willie Mullins-trained Mister Blue Sky.
Connections paid a fair few quid for him at 130,000 at the Newmarket sales in 2017, but he's only been seen once since joining Mullins, and that was in October when he bolted up at Wexford by eight lengths. That was his first run for 404 days, so the small matter of a 132-day break shouldn't be a problem. He really did win easily on debut.
He was a useful horse on the Flat with Sylvester Kirk, and crucially showed a liking for soft ground. The more rain the better please for Sunday. He has to run to a good level here against some useful opponents, and he was trading around the [3.70] mark last night.
Potential pace burn-up to suit the Kaiser
The Grade 3 Novice Chase looks a cracker despite the small field, and the remarkable Monatomic is declared again. He's a great trading horse who has been appearing here plenty recently, but he's up against it.
The pace to the race is crucial; as both Jetz and Camelia De Cotte like to lead and dominate - so something will have to give.
Jetz won the Grade 3 Flyingbolt at Navan last time by an impressive eight-and-a-half lengths and jumped really well despite a bit of a scare at the first. He was given a fairly soft lead in that, which is unlikely to materialise here with Camelia De Cotte. Her jumping has improved this season since she has progressed through the ranks, and she slammed a field of mares to win a Grade 2 last time.
I was hoping that Kaiser Black was going to be a bit bigger than the 7/4 Sportsbook price as he is a fascinating contender. His run behind La Bague Au Roi in the Grade 1 at Leopardstown last time firmly puts him in the picture, and he is also the top-rated runner in the field at 154. That's a fairly big rating.
My angle with him is that he stays well and has been mentioned as a potential Irish National horse for the future. I imagine he'll get a waiting ride and try to pick off the front-running duo as he stays 3m well. He also acts well in heavy if the rains really develop.
The price didn't excite me, but it might be worth throwing in an In-Play back at a higher price with his stamina to kick-in late.
Two to back over hurdles - including one for Joseph O'Brien
Joseph O'Brien's West Coast Time probably went into a lot of notebooks (old paper ones or electronic versions) last time when he came from a poor position to finish second at Gowran Park from 123. That was his first run for over year and he remains on the same mark for another crack at a handicap. He has to be of interest despite his place at the top of the betting. He was 7/2 last night on the Sportsbook, but any replication of that run should see him go close.
He ran in the Champion Bumper and was a useful horse in that sphere. West Coast Time is another on the day that could enjoy conditions if the rain arrives and turns the ground testing. He landed his bumper in heavy by nine lengths and it was good to read in the trainer's blog that he will relish any showers. Click here to read what O'Brien says about his chances.
Another runner who is weighted to run a big race on his old bumper form is Mount Pelier.
He showed plenty on his handicap debut last time at Navan under a hold-up ride, and despite a nudge up the ratings to 116, he has a fair bit of ability judged on his form from very early in his career - including a second to Carefully Selected.
One more chance for Mullins' chaser, but no more chances for Blow By Blow
The feature Leinster National has the usual battalion of Gigginstown-owned horses - although with just four in the maroon and white, playing "spot the cap" will be a bit easier.
A couple of bets this season are out again - including Blow By Blow. I put him up for the Grade 2 last time at Navan and he ran an absolute shocker. He sulked and didn't want to know, which also created problems with his jumping. He's a good horse and off 142 he is well treated, but he is losing the plot and could be running out of excuses. His trainer has said he is regressing, but on the flip side, these type of horses can often do well for Gigginstown when switched to competitive handicaps.
He is around [20.0] but do I trust him? Probably not, but I'll be kicking myself if he wins, as I won't be backing him.
The other floater here at a big price is Isleofhopendreams. He finished second in an Irish National last April from 140 in heavy ground, but he's a fragile horse for a 12yo and he has been pulled up in his last two starts. He is another one chalked up accordingly, but lots of rain could make him interesting. I am happy to give him one more chance and the price does compensate - again at around [20.0].
We have the 1-2 from the Grand National Trial at Punchestown last month in Dounikos and Wishmoor - but they haven't been missed in the market.
Back Mister Blue Sky @ [3.70] in the 15:15 at Naas
Back Kaiser Black In-Play at four times higher than BSP in the 15:45 at Naas
Back West Coast Time @ [4.50] in the 16:20 at Naas
Back Mount Pelier Win and Place @ BSP in the 16:20 at Naas
Back Isleofhopendreams Win and Place @ BSP in the 16:50 at Naas