Our Irish racing tipster Johnny Ward previews the weekend action at Naas and Leopardstown.
My column resumed with the work of a prophet last Friday.
"What joy to tip horses again! Some will lose, some might even win," I typed, clearly predicting going through the whole weekend without a winner.
As much as the guts of three months without racing was tough, it means we've an avalanche of excellent fayre all of a sudden; it shows no hint of a halt as Naas and Leopardstown welcome steeds over the next couple of days.
One of the biggest issues for punters at the moment is figuring out the ground. Going descriptions are limited metrics. We have had rain but do remember the east coast of Ireland had a drought not long ago and it has to be pretty hard underneath.
It is hard to be sure what this horse's ideal trip is, or whether he is entirely genuine (carries head a bit high) but he was sent off only 3-1 in two maidens last year and he made a bright return over the course and trip last time, encountering a few bumps and closed gaps along the way, running on strongly. The rain should help him as he stays a mile and Colin Keane is back aboard.
Another race potentially favourable for each-way players, Dark Design's chance is solid. He was a bit sluggish from the gates at Roscommon but recovered nicely and he has a perfect draw here. He showed a fine attitude under a drive to get up for third at Roscommon and more looks on the cards.
I really like this one. Tough As Nails is a stallion who has sired plenty of winners from ordinary mares. A sister to this filly, for example, ran 21 times for the yard, finishing in the first three on 12 occasions and being rated in the 80s, remarkably similar to her dam.
Take My Hand returns quickly after a truly extraordinary performance at Fairyhouse Monday. Drawn highest, she broke well but ended up pretty much last, partly because of her draw and partly because she was barely steerable, so badly did she hang left. Chris Hayes seemed unable to get after her until it was far too late, and she flashed home. Everything about this test at Naas is perfect and, drawn one, she should win.
It is fair to suggest Gee Rex's performance here on debut for Joseph O'Brien recently was pretty divisive. His midfield finish was far from what the market expected, yet he was terribly slow early on and finished really nicely. With no wins from 16 starts he could be one who simply doesn't fancy it but on ability he will win this race and the extra furlong combined with easier terrain will benefit.
This horse is hard enough to win with (three successes from 54) but his Leopardstown record when the ground is yielding or better is 1041245 - the fifth-placed finish his most recent one when a shade unlucky early in the straight. He should be thereabouts.
Robbie Colgan is possibly the most underrated rider in Ireland and his quiet style is the stuff of genius, yet he was at work nearly all the way when this one returned over a mile, finishing midfield, here last week. He is not an easy ride but on that evidence stepping up in trip he has a decent chance here in a weak race and he has a far better draw.
One can forget this horse's run at the Curragh and he has a much better chance here. He is back to the right type of trip, likes Leopardstown, and is interesting at the likely odds.Last chance to get your free month trial of Racing TV! Every race live from over 80 meetings from some of the best British and Irish racecourses. Click here for more details.
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