Carroll keen to 'Go Again' in Naas heat
The dust has barely settled on last week's Cheltenham Festival but attention quickly turns to the Flat scene which kicks off in fine style with the Tote Irish Lincolnshire (4.50) headlining a valuable Naas card tomorrow.
With few clues to work off when trying to predict which yards are more forward in their preparation at this early stage of the year, it may pay to side horses that have been kept busy throughout the winter.
Twenty-runner handicaps are always a minefield but ON THE GO AGAIN ticks a lot of boxes having recently kept decent company over hurdles for Meath trainer Michael Mulvany.
The five-year-old has won his last three starts on the level - successful from 1m to 1m4f on a variety of ground, including heavy - while improving for every run and could spring a minor surprise in the hands of Gary Carroll, who won the race last year on the Ger Lyons-trained Brendan Brackan
Richard Fahey sends over two English raiders in Third Time Lucky, which has been running regularly on the all-weather in England, while Carnego comes to the Kildare track fresh, but both look short of cutting the mustard in an ultra-competitive €100,000 contest and On The Go Again is selected to score.
With champion trainer Aidan O'Brien not represented in the preceding Group Three Lodge Park Stud Irish EBF Park Express Stakes (4.15), opportunity knocks for these fillies and mares to pick up some valuable black type.
Caution is advised with favourites winning just one of the last ten runnings - which included a 100/1 winner three years ago - but this does look like a good opportunity for the improving ELEGANT POSE.
With just four runs under her belt, Ger Lyons' filly is on an upward curve and can frank the form which saw her deliver a late run to collar long-time leader Making Light over course and distance in a Listed event last October.
Dermot Weld's four-year-old re-opposes while Panstarr, fifth in that race, also takes her chance but Elegant Pose looks the most progressive for champion jockey Colin Keane.
National Hunt enthusiasts also have plenty to get their teeth stuck into with a decent card at Thurles today spearheaded by the Listed Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase (2.45). Only five go to post and having saddled the first winner of the race 12 months ago with Great Field, Willie Mullins is double-handed as he searches for back-to-back victories with Montalbano and Cadmium.
INtriguing Paul Townend's decision to side with Montalbano, which left two falls behind him to score at Gowran Park last month, suggests he is the champion trainer's best chance and this is likely to be an intriguing three-way a duel between Tombstone, already a Listed winner for Gordon Elliott, and Jessica Harrington's Jett.
Mullins also sends French recruit Winter Soldier into battle in the Adare Manor Opportunity Maiden Hurdle (3.55) but a watching brief is advised as the Rich Ricci-owned five-year-old makes his hurdles debut after 711 days off.
DIAMOND KING was tipped to go close at Cheltenham before being badly hampered early on in the Coral Cup and quickly pulled up but the Enjoy White Gypsy @ Finns Borrisoleigh Hurdle (4.30) is a great chance for compensation.
Davy Russell and Elliott are a potent combination and with Diamond King 20lbs clear on ratings from nearest rival Call The Taxie and receiving 5lbs from Ellmarie Holden's charge, he is the clear choice to prevail.
Favourites have an appalling record in tomorrow's Toals Bookmakers Ulster National (3.55) at Downpatrick with no hotpot obliging in the last ten runnings but with only one double-priced winner during that time, eyes should be kept towards the top of the market in this 3m4f stamina test.
Dinnie's Vinnie is an improving sort near the bottom of the handicap for the father and son duo of Philip and Luke Dempsey and he should love the trip and conditions but another handicap may go Gordon Elliott's way.
POORMANS HILL was the well-backed favourite when finishing sixth in the Leinster National two weeks ago and with much of the 11-runner field looking exposed, siding with an improving seven-year-old and the red-hot team of Elliott and Jack Kennedy is advised in a less competitive event.