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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 13 April 2021

Advantage Point, All For Joy and Fauguernon make most appeal in Naas maiden hurdle

There are only a handful of serious candidates in the second division.

Sean Flanagan will ride the Noel Meade-trained Fauguernon.
Sean Flanagan will ride the Noel Meade-trained Fauguernon.
Image: Matt Mackey/INPHO

AT FIRST SIGHT, both divisions of the maiden hurdle today at Naas are intimidating.

Yet there are only a handful of serious candidates in the second division, a few with previous form and newcomers representing respected trainers, such as Royal Thief for Henry de Bromhead, and You Can Call Me Al for Edward O’Grady, who saddled a maiden hurdle winner at Thurles on Thursday.

Of those who have run, Advantage Point, All For Joy and Fauguernon make most appeal.

Fauguernon was a listed winner on the flat in France in 2017 and can be expected to improve from his recent hurdles debut for Noel Meade and Gigginstown when fifth to a Gordon Elliott-trained winner in the same colours at Fairyhouse.

All For Joy won a point-to-point and ran well on his only hurdles start last season. He has been notably consistent in finishing second in all five bumper runs, but that tendency to find one too good must be a concern.

In the circumstances, the Edward Harty-trained Advantage Point, by Germany, sire of the trainer’s 2008 Supreme Novices’ winner Captain Cee Bee, has plenty going for him.

Winner of a Punchestown bumper last summer on his second start, he made a satisfactory introduction to hurdling when fourth in a Galway festival maiden.

On his only appearance since, he did not seem to see out the demanding 2m3f at today’s venue in November, although he was 16 lengths in front of Dallas Des Pictons, who has won twice subsequently, including a valuable 3m handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Joseph O’Brien’s grip on the juvenile hurdling scene has been a major feature of recent weeks, with one-two results at Cheltenham and Leopardstown providing highlights.

The former French-trained Konitho has also played a part, winning readily over course and trip on his Irish debut and now bids to take another step up the ladder when taking on five rivals in the EMS Copiers Rated Novice Hurdle.

A physically imposing sort who seems to have matured considerably since showing relatively modest form in France, Konitho probably has greater potential than stablemate and fellow Triumph entry Band Of Outlaws, a Limerick maiden winner over Christmas.

The two other Triumph entries in the line-up, Coko Beach and Maze Runner, have plenty to prove after failing to feature in a Grade 2 contest at Leopardstown.

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It would not be surprising if potential supporters of She’s Made It in the 23-runner Adare Opportunity Handicap Hurdle are put off by the fact that the Padraig Roche-trained mare has been a beaten favourite on her last four starts.

However, it is worth giving her another chance to redeem herself and her consistency suggests she should at least land the place portion of the bet.

In defence of her record, it could be argued she possibly hit the front too soon when fading late into third over a longer trip at Clonmel last time. Before that, she was beaten only a neck at Cork, form boosted by the third winning her next two races.

Probably best suited by being held up in a truly run race over this 2m trip, she can make amends now that the capable Liam Gilligan has got to know her a bit better. 

- Alan Sweetman

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Following a tough Six Nations opening defeat to England, Joe Schmidt will look to regroup against a dangerous Scotland side. This week, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey are joined by Bernard Jackman to assess the damage of last weekend and look ahead to the clash in Murrayfield:

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