An Saighdiur can find extra step for march to victory
MAAREK has something to prove in his bid for successive victories in the Listed Woodlands Stakes at Naas this evening following a listless effort on his Cork reappearance.
On his first start for long-time carer Evanna McCutcheon, the usually redoubtable sprinter never got competitive, so he is hard to fancy giving weight away all round here.
There are six others in the €40,000 contest that boast 100-plus ratings, including the unexposed Aidan O'Brien-trained Guerre, which was runner-up in a similar event on its second and final start at the Curragh in the autumn.
Also in attendance is Andrew Slattery's An Saighdiur, one of five of the 10 runners trained in the sprinting hotbed of Co Tipperary.
In the race that Maarek floundered in at Cork, the son of leading Rathbarry Stud sire Acclamation turned in a hugely authoritative performance, making all en route to storming five lengths clear of the re-opposing Scream Blue Murder.
Granted, An Saighdiur had the benefit of race fitness, but it was a polished display that suggested he could yet be progressive despite being seven years of age, which wouldn't be unusual in the sprinting division.
An Saighdiur is napped to confirm that theory under Billy Lee now, and any rain that falls on ground officially being given as good to yielding would be to his advantage.
Ger Lyons has a strong hand in the opening juvenile maiden with Convergence and Packing Go Go, the latter possibly the pick after its fine debut second at Dundalk recently.
However, Ballydoyle's only two two-year-old runners so far have won and been second, so it is worth speculating that War Envoy might provide the elite firm with its second War Front winner in this category.
Masai also has a big chance under Joseph O'Brien in the six-furlong handicap, having toppled last week's Tipperary winner Kernoff on its third outing at Dundalk in October.
Preferred, though, is Eddie Lynam's More Questions, which won twice at Navan in 2013, including on soft ground.
An improved fifth behind Srucahan at the Curragh on its second start this term, the Moss Vale gelding is a four-year-old with scope to do better again here for Leigh Roche.