Irish Eyes: There’s a good Lad

After a winner in his latest column, Irish Eyes returns to pick out the best bets at Navan and Thurles today.

Can Noel Meade do Irish Eyes another favour at Navan?

Noel Meade did us a favour last week when a 9/2 shot of his beat better-fancied rivals from the stables of Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins and he might be able to get one over on those two yards again today in the first race at Navan.

Joey Sasa looked no more than average in two starts last season, finishing third of seven and third of six (beaten 14 lengths) in two bumper starts, but he looks a completely different horse in three starts this season.

He hacked up in a Galway bumper in October from Champagne Classic – who proceeded to hose up by 10 lengths in a similar race next time out – before turning out five days later at Down Royal.

The seven-year-old completed the double in very easy style, accounting for numerous winners, among them last weekend's impressive Cork maiden hurdle winner Dr Mikey, and he conceded weight to most of his rivals in doing so.

Joey Sasa then made his hurdling debut here three weeks ago and, following a mistake at the last, failed by a mere neck to concede 3lbs to the winner, the pair finishing five lengths clear of the third. He'll have to concede weight again today to 16 of his rivals given he is rising eight and faces a bunch of four-year-olds and mares.

It is admittedly unusual for a National Hunt horse not to debut until he reaches the age of seven, but his trainer assures us it was because he was simply not broken rather than him suffering an injury of any sort.

The son of Winged Love is a good mover so the worry tomorrow would be the softer ground but that being said, he looks so classy that he may well get away with it given he is making up for lost time and already has the hurdling experience under his belt.

Asthuria looks a good thing in the featured Listed Mares Novice Hurdle at Thurles but at a best-priced 4/7 she can only be included in multiples unless she should drift for any reason.

Making her Irish debut last season, this French recruit finished third in the Grade One Mares' Novice Hurdle Final at Fairyhouse, where she was comprehensively beaten by Jer's Girl but had the 130-rated Cashelard Lady over three lengths behind.

Her only realistic rival today looks to be Shattered Lady and considering she has a current rating of 127, it's easy to conclude this should prove a walk in the park for the Mullins mare, who should go on to make her mark at the highest level in the time.

Back at Navan, local trainer Gerard Keane's small team are in fantastic form at present and even his Flat horses are running well, with Red All Star only beaten by a half-length or so on Friday night at Dundalk.

Effernock Lad is surprisingly quick for a Generous son of a Le Bevard mare despite the fact his half-brother Gagewell Flyer was effective at shorter distances as well. He won a handicap hurdle at Sligo during the summer on heavy off a mark of 98 and two-mile chase at Naas on his penultimate start off a mark of 96, both under today's rider Mark Flanagan who claims 5lbs.

The handicapper gave him 6lbs for the second of those wins and he ran very well off a career-high mark of 102 next time when beaten just over a length by a JP McManus-owned favourite on yielding ground that might not just have been quite soft enough for him.

The winner was raised 11lbs for his success and given the 114-rated Golden Boot was three lengths adrift of Effernock Lad in third, the handicapper has given the selection a fair chance off a revised mark of 105 in the handicap chase at 2.55.

McManus again supplies a big danger in the shape of Coolaghknock Glebe but he'll know he's been in a race if he manages to best the admirable Effernock Lad.

Nap: Joey Sasa, 12.15 Navan

Next Best: Effenrock Lad, 2.55 NavanTreble: Asthuria, 2.10 Thurles

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