Major well worth punt to lay it on line
Published 02/01/2010 | 05:00
The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase at Naas tomorrow has the makings of a fantastic race, if the fixture goes ahead, but I suspect you'd get fancy odds of racing taking place at the snow-covered track.
In any case, Willie Mullins is represented by his highly regarded Sports Line, with Bobs Pride, Jered, An Cathaoir Mor, Sorceror and Major Finnegan the other form horses among a line-up of 10.
At a tissue price of 5/1, Major Finnegan may well be worth taking on side. A useful novice hurdler, Liam Burke's charge was off for nearly two years before defeating Jered and Lenabane on his fencing debut at Punchestown in October.
Both of those horses went on to win before holding their own in Grade One company, while Major Finnegan found only Sizing Europe too good on his subsequent outing. If he can produce that level of form, the Lord Americo gelding could put it up to Sports Line.
Mullins' horse did nothing to disprove his handler's regard for him when he cantered up at Navan in November. On the evidence in the book, though, Sports Line should probably trail Major Finnegan in the betting, yet he heads the market as a result of his connections and their well-publicised opinion of him.
The others have a bit to do to trouble Major Finnegan and Sports Line.
On their Punchestown clash, Major Finnegan holds Jered, and it will undoubtedly be interesting to see how the remainder, in particular An Cathaoir Mor and Sorceror, measure up.
Those two chased home Captain Cee Bee and Zaarito at Naas a month ago, so bold shows here would further compliment that form.
In the other big race of the day, the Goffs Slaney Hurdle, Quel Esprit ought to land short odds, so it is to the Annual Membership at Naas Maiden Hurdle that we turn for some value.
Ruby Walsh again partners the likely favourite Arvika Ligeonniere in this for Mullins, but that one didn't look the most straightforward when well beaten in a bumper on its Irish debut last month.
Industry prices forecast that The Kings Sword will trade at around 11/2, and he may be the one for the win market. Hailing from Kieran Purcell's in-form Kilkenny yard, The Kings Sword has been kept busy since making his racecourse debut in April. In seven starts, the Thurles bumper winner has been out of the first three on only two occasions and he stayed on well to take third in two recent hurdles.
The Kings Sword will appreciate the step up in trip now to two miles and three furlongs, so he is expected to break his duck over jumps for Paul Townend.