There are four Group races at Naas on Sunday, which is fantastic for the County Kildare venue. The graded action and prize money on offer has attracted some quality animals on home ground and from across the Irish Sea.
The Group 3 Weld Park Stakes is the first graded race of the day and its for two-year-old fillies over seven furlongs. Aidan O’Brien is responsible for the favourite in the form of Hermosa, who finished third in the Group 1 Moygalre Stud Stakes behind Skitter Scatter at the Curragh. The daughter of Galileo seems to be steadily progressive and is the leading candidate in this contest.
Paddy Twomey has an incredible record and in particular with his two-year-olds. Normally Twomey sells his charges on after they have found the winning bracket but this is not the case with Foxtrot Liv who he trains for Martin Schwartz. The daughter of Foxwedge took three starts to get her head in front but she was contesting some hot race on each occasion. She ran extremely well in her most recent start when just going down by a head in a listed race at Leopardstown and looks sure to give another good account of herself here.
Sir Mark Prescott sends over Brassica on the back of a novice victory in Beverley at the beginning of the month. This was just her second racecourse appearance but with the way Prescott’s horses improve with racing she may have more to offer and can take home some of the place money.
Other to consider include Elleanthus, Servalan and Trethias.
Selection: Foxtrot Liv
Dermot Weld’s Falcon Eight puts his unbeaten record on the line in the Group 2 Loughbrown Stakes where in truth there doesn’t seem to be much quality opposition. Declan McDonogh’s mount has only stepped foot on Ji the racecourse twice but beat a decent yardstick in Light Pillar by over five lengths at Killarney. This represents a big step up in class but this half-brother to Free Eagle has lots of potential and is the one to side with.
The main resistance to the favourite will most likely come from Twilight Payment who is one of the most consistent stayers in training and very rarely runs a bad race. Jim Bolger’s five-year-old was last seen finishing fourth in the Irish St Leger which is very decent form but you’d like to think that Falcon Eight is a class above him.
The only other viable contender is the Aidan O’Brien trained Cypress Creek who looked on an upward curve until blowing out in the Irish St Leger behind stablemate Flag Of Honour. The race conditions suit the son of Galileo and with more positive tactics, perhaps he can reverse form with Twilight Payment.
Selection: Falcon Eight
Only seven go to post in the Renaissance Stakes, which is a Group 3 race over six furlongs for three-year-olds and upwards. It looks like another slightly weak version of this contest with the exception of the globetrotting veteran Gordon Lord Byron. The apple of Tom Hogan’s eye finished fifth only eight days ago in a Group 3 in the Czech Republic and it’s understandable why Hogan turns out his ten-year-old quickly again.
The former Group 1 winner faces opposition from the Eddie Lynam trained Fas who is six years younger than her rival. Formerly trained in France, the son of Fastnet Rock has been placed in Group company in France and at the Curragh in July. It will be interesting to see if the younger legs can outsprint his elder.
St Patrick’s Day has been a bitter disappointment since joining Aidan O’Brien from Bob Baffert following a victory at Del Mar. This full brother to the triple crown winning American Pharoah finished third on European debut but has run dismally on three stars since.
The only other three-year-old in the field is Julia’s Magic and she may just be the surprise package having finished fourth in a listed race over course and distance. She then finished midfield in the sprint handicap on Champions Weekend and may improve past some of her more experienced rivals.
Selection: Julia’s Magic
The Group 2 Beresford Stakes is the final Group race on Sunday and it’s once again for two-year-olds. Aidan O’Brien trains the first three in the betting, with chief among these being Mount Everest who took three starts to get his head in front but will stay this trip well and looks sure to give a good account of himself under Ryan Moore. Japan and Sovereign make up the remaining O’Brien representatives and both could easily improve past their more fancied stablemate but it is very hard to know with these O’Brien two-year-olds.
The only unbeaten horse in the field is the Ger Lyons trained Pythion who dead-heated with Howling Ridge on debut at Leopardstown. The joint-winner had previously finished third in a strong Curragh maiden, so the form has a very solid look to it and given normal improvement this son of Olympic Glory may upset the Ballydoyle apple tart.