Lyons and Keane to score with Ningxai
Ningxai can help Ger Lyons and Colin Keane maintain their fine run of form by justifying the nap verdict on a low-key spread at Naas tonight.
The Co Meath duo aggregated three wins together on Sunday and Monday and Ningxai appeals as their best hope this evening. He tackles six others in the €17,000 three-year-olds' mile handicap, having won with more in hand at Cork in May than a half-length margin over Laffina suggests.
While that form is unexciting, Ningxai scored with plenty up his sleeve, and his previous third to Hunt at Dundalk offers a decent insight into his level of ability. On that occasion, he was beaten a length-and-a-half in third behind Hunt and Ortiga, which is rated 85 after winning cosily here in the interim.
Hunt, meanwhile, was just denied off the same mark at the Curragh and is now rated 86. Given that Ningxai raced off levels with him at Dundalk, a first-time mark of 80 for 9st 2lb here looks very fair for a progressive horse.
If that perception proves correct, then he could prove hard to beat, notwithstanding that it is a competitive little affair. Jim Bolger's Algonquin and Kevin Prendergast's Mufrad also bring winning form to the table, while David Wachman's Back On Top drops in trip after disappointing over further.
Bolger, who unleashes a New Approach full-brother to his crack miler Dawn Approach called Herald The Dawn in the juvenile opener, gets the nod to plunder the extended 10-furlong handicap with Brightly Shining.
Herald The Dawn might have to bow to the experience of Ballydoyle's Curragh runner-up Lieutenant General, but Brightly Shining has lots going for it.
Still a maiden after five outings, he has run well in each of his two handicap starts, finishing second to Waydownsouth at Fairyhouse and then running gallantly to be third to Botany Bay in the Ulster Derby.
Brightly Shining went up three pounds for each of those efforts, leaving him on a mark of 80 here. That doesn't make life especially easy for him, but it is possible that he will be more suited by this distance, so it is worth speculating that he can justify the handicapper's reaction under Kevin Manning.
Mick Halford and Shane Foley ought to have little trouble plundering the three-runner conditions race with the Jersey Stakes fifth Toscanini, while Wachman's Laffina might again get foiled in the fillies' maiden by the Tommy Stack-trained Current State.
The High Chaparral progeny's third to Jacobean at Limerick is about as good a piece of form on offer in this.