The racing from Ireland thankfully continues for the time being. We’re afforded a real treat this Monday, with the start of the flat season at Naas. Featuring a Group Three, a Listed event, as well as a number of competitive handicaps and maidens, there’s plenty of interesting contenders out there.
3.00 Naas: Mokhalad
The seven-year-old MOKHALAD is just three from thirty-eight at racecourses other than Naas, but has an impressive record of two-from-three at the County Kildare venue. The gelding was sent off 3/1 favourite on course debut in April. He stayed on strongly to defy a big weight on good-to-yielding ground.
Raised six pounds, he ran a cracker behind the re-opposing Hathiq over an inadequate five furlongs at Tipperary prior to returning to this venue with a two-length success. He found life tougher from marks in the mid-80s after winning at Bellewstown in July, but returned to form back at this venue in November.
Having broke well, he paid the price for racing against another rival out in front but did well to go down by just three-lengths under an apprentice. He has the top class Colin Keane onboard here, and he does much of his best work in the spring months. With that considered and his impressive course record, he’s an attractive each way bet.
4.00 Naas: Sir Dragonet
A P O’Brien dominates every Irish racecourse, as well as a fair few British ones, and the same applies to Naas. He’s had the most winners at the track over the past five years, with seventy horses carrying the Coolmore colours to victory from 315 runners.
The leading yard has a number of strong chances of success today, none more so than SIR DRAGONET. A three-length winner on debut, he followed that success with an impressive romp in the Chester Vase. Sent off the 11/4 favourite for the Derby next time, he was beaten less than a length by stablemate Anthony Van Dyck.
He failed to progress in two subsequent starts, but faces a big drop in grade here. He’s clear on figures despite shouldering a penalty and judged on his run style and two wins last spring, will love the testing ground.
4.30 Naas: Even So
Colin Keane enjoyed a productive season in 2019 with 115 winners, earning €2,623,905 in prize money. Eleven of those winners came at Naas, making him the leading rider over the past five years with forty victories. Having started the year in fine form with six winners at Dundalk, he’ll be full of confidence onboard EVEN SO.
Trainer by Ger Lyons, the daughter of Camelot finished a running on third behind Blissful on debut, a rival who had the benefit of experience. That effort and a step up to a mile saw her post an improved showing at Gowran the following month, bolting in by four lengths on soft ground.
Taking up the running after a furlong, she proved impossible to peg back under a positive ride from Keane. The second has since placed from a mark of 83 and the third is rated 97 after finishing fourth in a Listed event. Open to further improvement in her three-year-old campaign and partnered by a top jockey, she’s a hugely interesting contender.