'Lieutenant' to call shots on chasing debut
The fencing debut of Sub Lieutenant is one of the more intriguing aspects to this afternoon's Naas spread.
Sandra Hughes's Gigginstown Stud-owned six-year-old is a Brian Boru three-parts brother to the 2014 Gold Cup hero, Lord Windermere. A chasing type, he eventually won a bumper at the seventh time of asking.
He did better of hurdles, winning two of his six starts and finishing second to Sizing John in a Leopardstown Grade One last Christmas. He also ran well at the top level at Aintree and Punchestown.
Now, Sub Lieutenant switches to the job for which he is bred and built. He faces no shortage of opposition in the 18-runner affair, but there is no great strength in depth to the race. With that in mind, it will be extremely disappointing if Bryan cooper's mount doesn't have a big say in the outcome.
Cooper should also collect in his employer's colours aboard Petit Parisienne and Disko. Willie Mullins's Petit Parisienne was a dual Grade One winner last season, and she was far from disgraced when fifth in the Triumph Hurdle.
With the ground expected to be on the slow side at the Kildare venue, she should be in her element when she lines out in the Fishery Lane Hurdle. Just three others contest the Grade Three.
Gwencily Berbas has the potential to develop into a useful sort for Alan Fleming's in-form team, but Petite Parisienne really should be winning this for Mullins, who sends Thousand Stars to Auteuil for a three-mile Grade One. Ruby Walsh has opted to travel for the mount on the redoubtable grey in the Grand Prix d´Automne, which might prove significant, although the champion trainer has no other runner at Naas.
Disko will sport a first-time hood in the two-and-a-half mile maiden hurdle. A facile bumper winner for Noel Meade on his Punchestown bow in February, the Martaline four-year-old then finished second to Bellshill in a Grade One at the track in April.
On his Galway hurdle debut, Cooper opted to make full use of his long stride by making the running over two miles. In the end, he got run out of it by Archive, which is no slouch.
Disko should come on for the run and the experience. Indeed, if he runs to the same level, it would still be hard to envisage him getting beaten now that he steps up in distance. In the two-mile maiden, Aidan O'Brien's JP McManus-owned MacBride is fancied to make a winning return under Mark Walsh.
A triple bumper winner in the summer of 2014, MacBride was in need of the outing when he finished fifth over hurdles at Thurles in January.
He again has a break to overcome here, but the suspicion is that he should be good enough now that he has had a look around over flights.
The day's nap vote falls to the Gordon Elliott-trained Robin Des Mana in the bumper. Jessica Harrington's Bright Tomorrow is a danger here on the back of its fifth at Punchestown in April.
However, Robin De Mana is race-fit following its effort to be third at the sane venue last month, which might just give him the edge.