STAR PREVIEW Fri: Curragh

Racing from The Curragh, Wolverhampton, Kempton and Newbury featuring Irish 2,000 Guineas (Off time: 6:40pm)
Live on Sky Sports Racing HD from 12:00pm, Racing TV from 12:15pm and ITV 4 from 4:30pm


A fine card at Navan two days ago saw our fortunes change with fine margins. First our bogey Silence Please managed to nose out Our Voice in the Sailsabil Stakes, but then Shane Foley judged the fractions to perfection as Ancient Spirit got home by – you guessed it – a nose to take the Buckhurst Stakes and give us a handy profit on the day. It was a card with a number of eye-catchers – some of whom you’ll have seen recapped for you in a bumper Juvenile Watch, which is below – but Silence Please would be of great interest for the Oaks, although connections will surely be tempted to go for the Irish equivalent.

Today we have the first classics of the Irish season, across what looks a splendid two-day meeting at The Curragh.

Irish 2,000 Guineas:

Class came to the fore in both the French and English Guineas, and that can be the case in the Irish equivalent as Amory is taken to given Aidan O’Brien an incredible 12th Guineas. Considered one of Ballydoyle’s top juvenile prospects last season – he was sent off 4/7 when comfortable winning the same maiden that Ballydoyle have won with Roderic O’Connor, David Livingstone, Gleneagles and Gustav Klimt in the past – he was a smooth winner of the Tyros Stakes and showed an excellent attitude to take the Futurity Stakes afterwards, making it three wins from three starts at the time.

He was left standing by Pinatubo in the National Stakes on Irish Champions weekend, but there is no shame in that given how dominant Charlie Appleby’s charge was over the juvenile crop last season, and he followed that up with an excellent third in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere when a close third to Victor Ludorum and Alson there, finding generously for pressure once again.

That form looks excellent now, especially in this context, and his wide margin defeat to Alson in the Criterium International can be forgotten at the end of a very long year, leaving him as a standout contender here who promises to stay a mile.

There is no concern here that Seamie Heffernan has been booked for Lope Y Fernandez (beaten length further by Pinatubo at Goodwood than Armory was at Curragh), who was second and third to Pinatubo before taking the Round Tower Stakes (Fort Meyers third) and then disappointing in the Middle Park. No reason has been given for that disappointment but he ought to get this mile and be suited by fast ground, and has to be respected.

Siskin, unbeaten in four last season, is hugely respected. His gritty win in the Phoenix Stakes when he beat a ready and fit Monarch Of Egypt (having been clear of that rival in the Railway Stakes when holding a fitness edge, with Royal Lytham third) suggested that he’d be just fine going at least the extra furlong – and with fast ground to suit – although the market has made that assumption for us and Monarch Of Egypt’s disappointing runs in the Middle Park and Dewhurst suggest he’ll need to improve still. That is entirely possible, but again – the market assumes so, as he’s favourite.

The superbly bred Vatican City (all five of his siblings have won Group races including Classic winners Gleneagles and Marvellous) made his debut at Newmarket in the novice stakes taken apart by Kinross, who has run with promise twice at the top level since. That speaks well of him and he’d learnt a fair amount judged on an easy Dundalk win; The key question for him will be just how much better he is now, but one could expect even more to come afterwards.

Fiscal Rules was beaten just a head by Wichita on debut, form which looks brilliant through that angle alone, although the rest of the field has disappointed since. He may do better after this for all he’s an exciting prospect no matter what. Free Solo ran a brilliant race on debut behind the late Year Of The Tiger at Naas and then ran out a really easy winner of a Leopardstown maiden. Second Cabot Hills was a disappointment behind Sinawann next time and fourth Comoroant (Derrinstown Stud Trial winner earlier this week) was well behind Mogul so he needs to step forward but is one of the more respected threats.

Sinawann was caught in the pocket at the wrong time when second to Mogul in the Champions Juvenile Stakes (Rebel Tale, second to Armory, behind there) and a well-run mile will suit him so he has a fair each/way chance.

A big run from Fort Meyers would not surprise, although he may well be exposed now after his long juvenile season, and Royal Lytham is respected stepping upto a mile (dam was best at a mile, by Gleneagles), but Armory arguably sets a high standard for the rest of the field.

Elsewhere on the card, the Coolmore Ten Sovereigns Gallinule Stakes (6.10) is an interesting contest with Mythical – who was highly rated enough to go for the Classic Trial and then the Criterium de Saint-Cloud – a worthy favourite, although the unbeaten Crossfirehurricane, the intriguing Gold Maze and maiden Chricahua all make the race one to watch rather than get involved with.

The card ends with a fantastic renewal of the Mooresbridge Stakes (7.45) where Fleeting, who was desperately unlucky not to win a Group 1 last season, faces Irish St Leger winner Search For A Song, 2018 Irish Derby winner Latrobe and Numerian, who beat Sir Dragonet at Naas – with promising four-year-olds Leo De Fury and Guaranteed for good measure. It’s a belting contest, but not one with an obvious bet.

There’s also action from Newbury for the ITV cameras where there’s a decent spread of handicaps for punters to get stuck into. At the time of writing, there’s a decent amount of rain hitting the track which should make things just perfect for Blue Mist’s chances in the seven-furlong contest at 5.50. In four runs last season he twice ran huge races in Heritage Handicaps, firstly when finishing sixth in the Victoria Cup on his comeback, and then when finishing third in the Challenge Cup back at the same course. He was a blowout at Ayr in-between those two showings, but he might have found the ground to be too quick that day, and maybe the turn didn’t suit him at Chelmsford in the City Cup (behind War Glory).

A stiff seven furlongs with an uphill finish and cut in the ground appear to bring out the best in this five-year-old, and assuming the ground doesn’t become unduly testing, this could be a very winnable opportunity for him.

Juvenile Watch:

The first juvenile contests of the season at Navan (took place Wednesday, like all the races reviewed below) promised on paper and didn’t disappoint. Ger Lyons and Colin Keane were off the market when the speedily bred Frenetic, who was out of a 6-furlong winner in the USA and a half-sister to US 5f-7f graded winner Big Handsome, took the early leaded, cartwheeled down the hill and showed a fine turn of foot to run out a comprehensive winner. Graded contest surely await but the runner up and third were really the eye-catching ones.

Aidan O’Brien has made a fine start with his juveniles this season and in the shape of Mother Earth (Zoffany filly out of 8-9 furlong listed winner and Group 3 second Many Colours) and Snowfall (Deep Impact filly out of Best In The World, a full sister to Found) he had two horses who would be bred to excel over much further than a partly downhill five furlongs at Naas, but the pair ran tremendous races after being understandably outpaced coming down the hill, with Mother Earth finishing a comprehensive second from eighth, and Snowfall running on up the hill to take third on the line from Meala.

Both are of immediate interest for the future, and will surely do their best work later. Meala, who is also bred to need further (dam an unraced half-sister to to Group-placed 7f-1m winner Home School, 9.4f winner Aiseolas and 1m winner Dynamite Dixie) ran a decent race and shaped smartly.

The 2.30 was all about the Air Force Blue colt Chief Little Hawk (from sire’s first crop out of 2003 Matron Stakes winner Marylebone), who pinged the gate, glided down the hill and was always in control, running out a comfortable winner. He’d have to be a leading chance at Royal Ascot if connections decided to go. His performance looks even better when a line is taken through The Blue Panther (third behind Poetic Flare in the first maiden of the season at Naas) who ran on for second, with Hyde Park Barracks (another Air Force Blue colt out of the 2001 Listed winner Secret Charm) running a respectable race given that he’ll be sure to need further than this.

In Britain we were treated to Kadupul, a half-sister to Suedois (William Haggas/James Doyle) got the better of Willabell (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori) a War Front winner out of dual US Turf Grade 1 winner Photo Call) in a fantastic final stretch that Kadupul just managed to get the better of in the run to the line. The withdrawal of Beverage and Heat and Dust means it’s hard to value what they’ve achieved, but they were 12 lengths clear of the well backed favourite Belardie (went off evens) and at the very least they are useful.

Pontefract had two juvenile contests, bringing racing back to Yorkshire. Inhaler showed a cracking attitude to give Karl Burke and Ben Curtis another juvenile winner, holding off the fast finishing pair of Dandy’s Max (Ben Haslam/Andrew Mullen) and Disco Beats (John Quinn/Jason Hart). All ran very respectable races and credit to the winner for showing such a fine attitude but the horse that makes easily the most appeal was Tinochio (Kevin Ryan/Kevin Stott), who went at least two furlongs wide at the start, was last coming into the home turn, and green around that bend, and then rattled down the home straight to almost grab glory.

In another half furlong he’d have won and that would probably have been the case with a decent draw – he was the only horse involved that was drawn high (came out of stall 12, top three started in 3, 1, 4) and he’ll surely be fine over six furlongs too. It’s tough to know what to make of the overall form but connections will be disappointed if he doesn’t win races.

In the next race, Bonne Vitesse (Brian Ellison/Ben Robinson) got the better of favourite Scusucaru (George Boughey/Ben Curtis), showing a good attitude to come out on top but paying a handy compliment to Dandalla, the impressive Newcastle winner who had her no less than eight and a quarter lengths behind that day.

Listen Again was never able to go with the front pair but her finish to take third from Lucy Rules marks her down as a horse who should be able to win a maiden at some point and there’s plenty that should make Tim Easterby happy with that run.

Today the focus will be on the juvenile contests at The Curragh and Newbury, with the opener (4.05) at The Curragh over the minimum trip of five furlongs. These were the horses that we’ll be watching in particular at both contest:

4:05 Curragh

Lunar Space: Bred for further, being a half-brother to listed winner Paene Magnus (wins came 1m-10.6f AW) and 1m2f-1m4f winner Mainicin

Admiral Nelson: Kingman colt out of the 2011 Dick Poole Stakes winner and Sales race winner Shamandar

Cooper’s Hawk: Awtaad colt with huge amount of quality on damside, as dam is unraced sister to 1m Listed winner Gabrial, and granddam is 10.5f winning half-sister to a pair of US Grade 2 winners

Irish Chief: War Front colt out of Kilboy Estate Stakes winner and Nassau Stakes second Wedding Vow

At Newbury, we have two novice contests, a novice for colts, at 7.00 and 7.30 Horses of interest are:

7.00

Running Back: Muhaarar colt who is a half-brother to five winners including the prolific juvenile Kool Kompany for Richard Hannon and Ryan Moore

Spanish Colt: By Kodiac for red hot Andrew Balding yard with high quality breeding on damside, being out of unraced half-sister to 7f-1m1f Gr 3 winner Sandiva and Danish 1m1f Listed winner Wentworth

7.30

Al Watan: Dubawi colt out of Dutote Desejada, herself placed in Grade 1 events in Argentina (1m2f and 1m4f)

Majd Al Arab: Colt by The Gurkha out of the three-time Italian winner Celtic Filly

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Armory 1 pt win in 6.40 Curragh at 4/1 starsports.bet
BACK Blue Mist 1 pt win in 5.25 Newbury 1 pt at 9/4 starsports.bet


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