Wednesday 13 December 2017

Zaarito's luck can change

Damien McElroy

Scuttled by sudden snow showers more than once, Naas manager Tom Ryan expects to proceed as planned at the Kildare venue tomorrow despite the ongoing night frosts that tend to clear quickly most mornings.

"We had a further frost here last night but it had cleared and we were raceable by 10.30 this morning. The Met Eireann forecast is for something similar overnight so we should be okay," Ryan explained yesterday.

"The ground on the 'chase track is fresh and raceworthy as there hasn't been much traffic on it due to the various cancellations lately and we're happy with the level of declarations for this meeting," he added.

A year ago the fixture had to be put back due to snow but their delayed session saw horses of the calibre of Joncol, Sports Line and Coole River hitting the target and there's some quality on view again this time.

Colm Murphy's luckless Zaarito and the Oliver McKiernan-trained Whodoyouthink, which both scored at Leopardstown after Christmas, will be prime fancies to get back on the winning trail while last season's Punchestown Grade One hero Rare Bob adds a touch of class to the Lucan Racing Leinster National.

First into the fray in the Novice Hurdle is locally-based Whodoyouthink which followed up his runaway maiden success back at the Dublin course last month when a fair fourth in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle to Dunguib.

That level of achievement so far entitles this very promising five-year-old to preference over the likes of Stonemaster, Baron De'l, Dundalk all-weather winner Hans Crescent and the unbeaten Silver Friend.

While the following Naas Directors Plate Novice Chase might not contain a Joncol this year, Zaarito likewise is a talented individual hailing from a leading Wexford stable even if he's been trying the patience of connections.

A narrow defeat in November over tomorrow's track to Captain Cee Bee and then a clear-cut win around Leopardstown suggested Colm Murphy's former bumper star was back in the groove over the larger obstacles.

An early exit on his next outing at the Foxrock venue preceded a frustrating tumble with Davy Condon at the final fence in the Moriarty Novice Chase when seemingly poised to challenge Citizen Vic and Weapon's Amnesty.

The young Cork rider takes the reins again tomorrow and, in common with Murphy and the gelding's syndicate owners, deserves better reward which may indeed come their way off a less frenetic pace and on a better surface.

Rested since being eclipsed behind Pandorama at Fairyhouse late last year, easy Limerick winner Pesoto and 'chasing debutant Lastoftheleaders could emerge as greater threats to Condon's mount than Whatuthink.

Rare Bob worked well enough at Leopardstown last Sunday evening to encourage Dessie Hughes to saddle him under top weight in the Lucan Racing Leinster National won a year ago by the ill-fated Emma Jane.

Ballytrim, which also participated in that busy schooling session, runs here too instead of heading to Cheltenham and last year's Ulster National winner looks a more likely repeat winner for Willie Mullins than Equus Maximus.

The prize could go instead to one of the lighter-burdened brigade and Tom Taaffe's Kings Advocate rather than mudlark Casey Supreme might fit the bill after useful runs at Leopardstown over a much shorter trip.

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