Karamaya to swoop at Naas
One of the oldest races on the Irish calendar is up for grabs at Naas tomorrow and its lucrative winner's pot of €26,000 ensures a typically competitive renewal.
The Birdcatcher Nursery -- which was first run after the Second World War -- always attracts a decent field and this year's contest is no different, with Muaanid heading the weights having run in a Group Two event last time.
Just below Dermot Weld's top-weight in the race is John Oxx's Karamaya and this one is a very interesting contender, with the booking of Declan McDonogh for the Aga Khan-owned filly almost as eye-catching.
This daughter of Invincible Spirit made an impressive debut over this distance at the Curragh last month when coping well with soft ground to get up close home to edge out Gathering Power.
Subsequent to that success, Oxx stepped her up to Group One company for the Moyglare Stakes over seven furlongs, but she struggled to cope with the extra furlong and weakened in the closing stages to finish seventh behind Sky Lantern. That was still a decent display for only her second run and she seems sure to find further improvement, yet there's no shortage of dangers.
Paul Deegan's Fromajacktoaking is bidding for a four-timer and doesn't look overburdened with 8st 6lbs, while Jim Bolger's progressive Beyond Thankful has to come into consideration, as does the aforementioned Gathering Power which is weighted to reverse form with Karamaya.
However, Oxx's youngster looks like she has been given a decent draw in stall 11 as high numbers invariably do better in sprints on this track when the going is testing, so she's definitely worthy of a speculative bet.
The master of Currabeg can also strike in the featured Garnet Stakes, in which his Manieree is taken to rediscover the form she showed at the end of last season when she landed the Blandford Stakes. While Oxx's inmate hasn't shown the same sparkle in three runs this season, a repeat of her respectable seventh in the Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp a fortnight ago should be good enough here.
In the day's opener, the in-form combination of Bolger and Kevin Manning can record another two-year-old winner with Leargas. Runner-up behind Curly Wee on his Cork debut over six furlongs, the son of Kheleyf couldn't cope with the drop to the minimum distance at Tipperary and can now take advantage of its good draw on the outside of the field.
At Cork, the emphasis is on the jumpers and the featured two-mile handicap chase could see an overdue win for Henry de Bromhead's Echo Bob which has been a model of consistency, while another solid performer, Liam Cusack's Last Time D'Albain, is chosen to take advantage of an attractive mark over hurdles.