Bank holiday Monday in the UK and Ireland. Some good racing on offer and the sun is out here in Dublin – could be the make-up of a really nice day. So let’s try to find some winners, shall we? I’m intrigued particularly by the Curragh card, where Found, the long-term 1.000 Guineas favourite, is going to start her three year old campaign while missing the assignment in the big race yesterday.
There is also a hot little Listed race on offer, with favourite Endless Drama one of my Horses To Follow. That says with heavy conditions at HQ, I leave him alone as he is short enough in the betting. These kind of conditions can throw up funny results from time…..
3.15 Curragh: Athasi Stakes (Group 3; 7f)
Highly regarded Ballydoyle inmate Found was a top class juvenile last season. She progressed nicely from winning a maiden, to finish a fine third in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, ending the year eventually on the highest possible note with a commanding success in the Group 1 Marcel Boussac at Longchamp.
Without the shadow of a doubt Found is the class act in this field today. However, she has had problems during her preparations for the Newmarket 1.000 Guineas, reportedly hasn’t been well, missed work and missed subsequently the big race. Started off in this somewhat lesser event now, she is entitled to win if fully wound up.
On the other side the drop down to 7f isn’t sure to suit entirely, and the heavy ground is something completely new to her. I believe that today is more like a prep race for her – Give her a good day out, if she wins it’s a bonus, but it is more important to get a run in. Bigger targets looming large on the horizon.
Dermot Weld’s debutant winner Shahzeena is thought to be her most feared rival. She won well a maiden in heavy conditions at Leopardstown, so is ground proven. But she needed every inch of the 1m trip and could be found out for speed over the shorter distance here, despite the slow ground conditions.
Alive Alive Oh has never fulfilled what she promised to be earlier in her career. Nonetheless the drop in trip plus blinkers fitted is interesting today. Says she has had so many chances, it’s more likely that she falls short once again. Lightly raced Stellar Glow is an interesting runner. She should improve as a three year old but probably needs further to be seen to best effect.
I used to be a fan of Avenue Gabrial last year. She was a fine maiden winner at the Curragh and was a fair fourth in the Irish 1.000 Guineas. Her 3rd place in the Guineas Trial on heavy ground entitles her to be considered today. Though I’ve to admit she always looked more like a miler to my eyes.
However she should come on for her seasonal reappearance, where she was a big disappointment. However she handles the ground conditions, has form over the trip and I imagine connections revert her back to more positive tactics today. At 14/1, Avenue Gabrial seems overpriced.
Lightly raced three year old Off Limits ran pretty well on her seasonal reappearance in a hot little Conditions Race at Cork last month. This looks a strong piece of form given that the winner went on to win the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes, while the runner-up won subsequently a really good race at Dundalk.
So, a 2½ lengths defeat in third place doesn’t look too shabby, given the fact that she got a very light ride that day. Off Limits travelled actually all over them until the 2f marker and initially quickened nicely on heavy ground but just got a bit tired in the end. The drop to 7f looks fine on that evidence and she clearly handles soft conditions.
As a juvenile she raced twice. She started off with a fine fourth place in a pretty good maiden and followed up to get off the mark at Leopardstown, where she produced a nice turn of foot from off the pace. Both forms came with cut in the ground.
Obviously Off Limits has plenty to find on ratings. She will need to take another step forward to be in with a shout here. But everything is pointing towards her being able to do exactly that. Not to forget that trainer David Wachman is usually doing really well with fillies (not only because of yesterday’s 1.000 Guineas success). All in all I believe Off Limits can be a big runner today.
Summery: If Found is fully fit and well and handles the ground, she won’t be beaten. But it’s worth to take her on. The Weld filly has the potential to progress. But the two overpriced individuals in this field Avenue Gabrial and Off Limits. In a seven runner-race, with a short favourite rather easily to oppose, those two individuals make plenty of appeal as 14/1 and 20/1 shots.
Off Limits @ 20/1 Bet35 – 5pts Win
Avenue Gabrial @ 14/1 Sportingbet – 5pts win