Since the Tote Irish Lincolnshire (4.10) was moved to Naas from the Curragh, both winners have arrived late around the inside from low draws (stalls one and three). That’s obviously a very small sample size but if we look at all big-field handicaps over course and distance in recent years a low-draw bias is evident, with eight of the 15 winners in fields of 14+ coming from stalls one, two, three or four.
There’s plenty of pace on the inside from Honor Oak (stall one), Shatharaat (two), Trading Point (four) and Warnaq Five), and I’m immediately draw to KARAWAAN from stall three. The five-year-old is making his debut for Ger Lyons after leaving Sir Michael Stoute and his new trainer has a 10-24 record with ‘switchers’ on turf since 2012 (41.7% strike-rate) for a profit of £41.00 to a £1 level stake at SP. The very soft going tempers confidence slightly.
It might seem ambitious to recommend a bet on MASTER SPEAKER (stall six) given his 1-53 turf record but he hasn’t had many opportunities on grass over 7.5f-1m, recording figures of 3226275, improving to 3225 (0-4) in fields of 12 or more runners, with the latest defeat in a field of 21 when doing best of those drawn low in the Irish Cambridgeshire at the Curragh in last September. He’s 6llb lower this time and has had a pipe-opener on the all-weather. Throw in the fine form of the Adrian McGuiness yard (form figures of 111213 (4-6) in the past fortnight) and he starts to look very interesting from an each-way perspective.
I also want an interest on FASTAR (stall nine), who is having his first run for Gerard O’Leary after leaving Brian Meehan’s care. He always seemed happiest in the spring and autumn for his previous yard, recording form figures of 2114336 (2-7) on turf outside of high summer (June, July and August). He ran a fine race against the pace bias at Sandown in September, doing best of those patiently ridden in third, and was also inconvenienced by the way the race panned out when filling the same position at Haydock next time.
Master Speaker – Naas 4.10 (1pt each-way, 14-1 Skybet, six places)
Kerawaan – Naas 4.10 (0.5pts each-way, 10-1 Skybet, six places)
Fastar – Naas 4.10 (0.5pts each-way, 20-1 Skybet, six places)