Magico was a welcome winner for our NAP of the Day column on Thursday. Coincidentally, Friday’s selection continues that ‘Magical’ theme…

NAP of the Day

  • 15:50 Gowran Park – Magical Zoe7/4

The Jumps season is just around the corner, which is evident when looking through Gowran Park’s seven-race card on Friday.

Much attention will be on the exciting Aurora Vega, a full-sister to Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up Facile Vega, in the bumper, but it’s the Listed Mares Hurdle just under two hours earlier that I’m interested in.

John McConnell’s Anna Bunina is the highest-rated (142) of the seven horses set to go to post for this two-mile contest, but I think she’s extremely vulnerable.

The seven-year-old hasn’t won since landing a modest handicap at Bellewstown back in July 2022, and her form on ground officially soft is questionable at best – it’s currently heavy at Gowran. McConnell’s yard aren’t quite firing either.

Henry De Bromhead, on the other hand, is operating at a 21% strike rate, and his runner MAGICAL ZOE not only relishes these conditions but has a great record when fresh too.

After winning a Group 3 at Down Royal in November last year on soft, the five-year-old daughter of Shantou finished second in the Mares’ Novices Hurdle at the most recent Cheltenham Festival, also on deep ground. She was disappointing at the Punchestown Festival subsequently, but form at that meeting often doesn’t hold up and there were excuses.

With respect, it would be surprising if Hidden Land, Natural Look, Lady Of The Vale or Air Drop were to win this, which leaves Say Goodbye as the main threat to my selection. She’s clearly talented, but it’s hard to have confidence in her first time out after 490 days on the sidelines.

Magical Zoe has to give 3lbs to Anna Bunina despite being rated 6lbs inferior, and a further 6lbs to Say Goodbye, but that should be very possible given her likely ambitions this season.

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