Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 20 January 2018

Newsletter can foil Minalisa's bid for a repeat in Naas sprint

Fran Berry, who previously steered Minalisa into second behind Louis The Pious in the Ayr Gold Cup is back aboard
Fran Berry, who previously steered Minalisa into second behind Louis The Pious in the Ayr Gold Cup is back aboard
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

A year after triumphing in the €60,000 Yeomanstown Stud Dark Angel Stakes, the Rae Guest-trained Minalisa returns for a third stab at the Naas Listed race.

Having been chinned on the line in 2013, the Oasis Dream mare deserved her 2014 success.

With Fran Berry, who went on to steer her into second behind Louis The Pious in the Ayr Gold Cup, back aboard now, Minalisa must have a chance.

She hasn't won in four outings since the corresponding event last year, but on that occasion she hadn't won in six tries over the previous 12 months. July certainly seems to be her month, so the Newmarket-based runner is sure to play a big part again.

Still, the home defence is quite stern, with the visiting Andrea Atzeni booked to partner Johnny Murtagh's Stroll Patrol, which is now rated 104 following her win in a valuable Curragh handicap.

Of the nine runners, though, Newsletter is the one to keep on side. Ken Condon's Sir Percy three-year-old has proved highly progressive this term, winning at this level at Nottingham before emerging with plenty credit when second to Ainippe in a Curragh Group Three.

She then ran better than a finishing position of fifth suggests in the same grade at York 12 days ago, keeping on gamely after getting a little tapped for toe.

Divine, which finished just behind Newsletter, was a commendable third in a Newbury Group Three on Saturday, so the form looks solid. As a filly that loves a bit of cut underfoot, tonight's forecast fast conditions may again render Newsletter vulnerable over six furlongs.

However, given her still unexposed profile, she has it within her scope to keep improving, so she is fancied to collect under Shane Foley.

Condon's Strait Of Zanzibar also has a life in the €16,000 mile handicap, but preferred as nap material in that is Ger Lyons' Ningxai. Colin Keane's three-year-old mount gets in off bottom weight of 8st 13lb, having run well to be fourth here on his recent handicap debut behind Algonquin.

Ningxai nearly got knocked to the ground after passing the two-furlong pole that day, but he recovered to stay on purposefully. Off the same handicap mark now, he should be the one to beat.

The same firm might take the six-furlong edition with Navan runner-up Trust Your Opinion, while Lyons and Atzeni combine for the newcomer Bear Cheek in the juveniles' opener. On form, Tommy Stack's Wayne Lordan-ridden Aspar ought to win that, after a fine Curragh debut second to the classy Final Frontier.

Irish Independent

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