Ireland’s Flat trainers have come out in force to support the first meeting in the country since Horse Racing Ireland decided to extend its attempt to continue with meetings behind closed doors during the coronavirus crisis.
Aidan O’Brien is one notable name missing from the list at Dundalk – though he has no fewer than 22 entries for Naas on Monday – but his sons, Joseph and Donnacha, both have runners, along with Dermot Weld, Johnny Murtagh, Mick Halford and many more.
In all, there is €92,000 on offer for the runners in the eight all-weather Flat contests. While the atmosphere will be odd – and strict additional measures are in place to ensure social distancing – all concerned will be grateful for the chance to keep money moving around the racing economy, for as long as the Irish government is content for them to do so.
Yuften (2.30) in the claimer is the only odds-on runner on a card that has attracted a maximum turnout of 14 runners for two of the eight races and a double-figure field for all but one. He has plenty in hand on Friday’s terms – and so far at least, is the best-backed horse on the day according to William Hill. He has been a bit below his best on his last two starts and is probably one to treat with caution.
A better bet could be Misty At Sea (nap, 4.30) at around 6-1 when he makes his handicap debut in a six-furlong contest later on the card. The four-year-old has run with promise on his last three starts and got to within six lengths of United Front, a potentially very useful colt from the Aidan O’Brien stable, in a maiden over Friday’s track and trip last time. The time of that race was strong and an opening mark of 72 may have let him in a pound or two light.
Two more runners that could be worth an interest are Reverberation (1.30) in the opener and Lequinto (nb, 5.00) at the other end of the card. The former is no world-beater but registered the only win of his career over Friday’s course and distance off a mark of 61, and has been dropped a couple of pounds to 49 since his run at Newcastle last time.
Lequinto, meanwhile, showed much improved form to be beaten less than a length when making his handicap debut at Friday’s course last time out. That seemed to come as something of a surprise to his connections – he set off at 40-1, and had a Betfair SP of 120-1. He came from a lot further back than the first two home and has an obvious chance to get off the mark on Friday.