NAAS Sun: We look ahead to Naas on Sunday for a competitive eight-race card that includes two Group 3s and two Listed contests.
⭕ First up is a novice race (1:45pm) over 5f, and while all seven runners are of interest, the two Ballydoyle debut winners River Tiber and Democracy may have this between them. Democracy did well to win over 6f at the Curragh, but it’s hard to oppose River Tiber after the impression this son of Wootton Bassett created when winning by 10 lengths at Navan.
⭕ The first Listed race on the card is the Sole Power Sprint Stakes (2:15pm) over 5f. Castle Star and Ladies Church have plenty of back class and are entitled to utmost respect at this level, but Ken Condon’s Moss Tucker looks a horse on the up after two excellent runs in Listed company so far this season. He was a gutsy winner over this course and distance last time out, when beating a strong rival in Tenebrism, and there’s no reason to think he won’t go close once again, despite carrying a penalty for that success.
⭕ Next up there’s more sprint action with the Group 3 Irish EBF Fillies Sprint Stakes (2:45pm) over 6f. Considering Ribchestina is bred to be better over a mile, it was impressive she managed to win as well as she did over this course and distance on debut last month. She had to be brave there too, when barging through a gap to get to the front and then cleared away from her rivals at the finish. She beat the odds-on Paddy Twomey-trained Vanity Pays, and it’s interesting that Ribchestina has subsequently been acquired by the Twomey yard. They must think she has plenty of ability and she could be the one to side with here.
⭕ The 3:15pm is a 7f Listed race where it could well be worth giving another chance to the Jessica Harrington-trained Villanova Queen. This filly returned this season when beating Monaasib over 7½f at Tipperary on good ground and the form of that race has been franked with the fourth placed horse going on to win in Listed company since. She was sent off at 9/2 on her next start, when upped to a mile in the Group 3 Amethyst Stakes at Leopardstown, but ran no sort of race in soft ground conditions that didn’t suit. Back on a quicker surface she could well bounce back.
⭕ A big field of 15 are set to take their chance in the Group 3 Lacken Stakes (3:45pm) over 6f. Aidan O’Brien has won this race with some high-class performers in recent years, including Caravaggio and Sioux Nation, so his runner, The Antarctic, is sure to be popular with Ryan Moore in the saddle. However, he was beaten six lengths by Ocean Quest on reappearance at Navan last month and he will struggle to turn that form around with Jessica Harrington’s improving filly. Ocean Quest holds an entry in the Commonwealth Cup and another impressive win here would make her of strong interest in that event.
⭕ A maiden (4:15pm) over a mile sees Unless attempt to get off the mark at the sixth attempt, having finished as runner-up on her last three starts. She may have to have to play a supporting role once again though, as Persian Jewel looks a likely improver after shaping well on debut. This daughter of Showcasing kept on into third on heavy ground at Leopardstown and should have come on for that experience. She holds entries in both the Irish 1000 Guineas and Irish Oaks, and is taken to record a first success here.
⭕ The 4:45pm handicap over a mile could well provide some Royal Ascot clues. Aidan O’Brien’s Broadhurst is sure to be popular after routing his opposition in a Dundalk maiden last month, but arguably of equal interest is the Micky Halford & Tracy Collins-trained Kalikapour. This son of Lope De Vega ran well in a strong maiden on debut last October, before winning comfortably next time out, over a mile at Dundalk. There should be more to come on only his third start.
⭕ The finale (5:15pm), a handicap over a mile, looks a tricky puzzle to solve. Johnny Murtagh’s Blues Emperor created a nice impression when finishing second on reappearance at Limerick. Being by Gleneagles, he should be suited to this better ground and looks to have further progression in him off a mark of 84.