Given how well he ran from a long way out of the handicap in a hot handicap at Naas on Sunday, Duke Of Leggagh really ought to come out on top in the Bective Restaurant, the fifth race on Wednesday afternoon’s card in Navan.
Michael Mulvany’s horse went down the nursery route in 2022 and took a fine step forward on his last outing of the season, racing away to win a Gowran handicap off a mark of 56. That earned him a mark of 69 but connections were happy to let him run from 12lbs out of the handicap in Sunday’s race.
Despite being up against it, he ran a superb race to push the potentially very smart Paddington to a length and three-quarters and now gets the opportunity to run off the mark of 69. Of course, there is a concern that this race will come too soon after his seasonal debut, but connections’ hand has been forced as he has been upped to 81 for future races. In conditions which play to his strengths, he is difficult to oppose. Of his rivals, Florida Taiga is of some interest in her first handicap.
French Claim can make a winning return in the Navan Racecourse Race. Paddy Twomey’s colt was a promising two-year-old and began his three-year-old campaign with a runaway success in a race at Cork before being placed in the Derby trial at Leopardstown and the Irish Derby itself. He ran better than his placing might suggest when seventh in the Doncaster Leger and posted his only disappointing effort of the season when well beaten in the ultra-competitive Irish Cesarewitch.
That last effort is easily forgiven and given his record when fresh and his ability to cope with testing ground, he can put a third win on his card. Okita Soushi is the one most likely to test him. Joseph O’Brien’s five-year-old is bidding for a quick hat-trick, having won twice on the all-weather in February, and has a clear fitness advantage but no proven form on testing ground, and that sways the verdict in favour of French Claim.
Aidan O’Brien has made a quick start to the season, with two winners on Sunday in Naas, and he can add another to his early tally with Gooloogong in the Navanracecourse.ie Maiden. A promising fifth to stablemate Bertinelli in a backend juvenile maiden in Dundalk, the full brother to Oaks runner-up Cayenne Pepper will appreciate the step up to 10 furlongs, and can take this en route to better things.
2:50 French Claim (NB)
3:25 Paradise Lost
4:35 Duke Of Leggagh (Nap)
5:05 Not Just Any Eagle
5:35 Time Tells All
2:15 Pulse Of Shanghai
2:50 Okita Soushi
4:00 King Leodegrance
4:35 Florida Taiga
5:05 Lady Arwen