It’s a beautiful morning here in Dublin – pleasantly warm, the sun is out, the air smells like summer… finally!
Ideal conditions for racing at the Curragh, where the ground is drying out and that will make for fair and exciting racing. I’ve continued to work myself through the card this morning – so let’s have a look at the races in a bit more detail!
A comprehensive preview of the 2.15 Listed Marble Hill Stakes can be found here.
1.40 Fillies Maiden, 6f, 2yo
She is a full-sister to multiple Group 1 winning mare Misty For Me and has THE name: Ballydoyle is expected to get off the mark in the opening race of Irish Guineas weekend. She may face the stiffest competition from stable mate Dewdrop who cost a bit of money as a yearling and is equally well bred. Not race to have a bet in for me, but one to watch with interest.
2.45 Greenland Stakes (Group 2)
A competitive sprint race which has attracted some big names. Sole Power makes a rare appearance on home soil but this seems more like a prep run for Royal Ascot. Six furlongs at the Curragh is not an ideal scenario for him and consequently he has neither ever won here nor over this trip elsewhere.
Globetrotter Gordon Lord Byron warrants plenty of respect. Seemingly healthy again after injuring himself when last seen in March in Hong Kong, he is the one to beat with trip and ground sure to suit. He has bigger targets on the agenda later the year as well though, so I’m wondering if he’ll be fully wound up for today?
Astaire has been a revelation this year. Last season he couldn’t quite follow on from a strong two year old campaign, but he clearly raised his game this year: An excellent Group 3 success over six furlongs at Newmarket last month followed up with a good performance in the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes. But I suspect he may need idealy quick ground to be able to see out the trip and the uphill finish at the Curragh won’t be in his favour either.
Dermot Weld’s Mustajeeb is well fancied today. He’s expected to be ready for his seasonal reappearance. It’s a drop in trip for him, though, as he mostly raced over 7f up to 1m last year, when he finished 2nd in the Irish 2000 Guineas behind Kingman. He didn’t quite fulfil his potential subsequently and I’m not sure what to expect of him today.
The drying ground clearly works against Maarek today. Jamesie, albeit a course and distance winner over an unlucky Gordon Lord Byron last year, is very much up against as well. An Saighdiur shouldn’t be anywhere good enough.
However I feel Majestic Queen could be the right piece to solve this puzzle. This filly seems to be improving with age. She won a very competitive Group 3 a Lingfield a fortnight ago and the drop to 6f won’t be an issue. She needed her first run this year but showed progressive form last season when winning a Group 3 sprint at Leopardstown and subsequently finished an unlucky but not far beaten 4th behind Jamesie and Gordon Lord Byron.
The five year old has to raise her game today but may well progress from her recent strong Lingfield performance with track, trip and ground to suit perfectly. At double figure odds she is my selection against the field.
Majestic Queen @ 14/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win
3.20: Irish 2000 Guineas (Group 1)
It’s all about Gleneagles – can he complete the Newmarket/Curragh double today? The most likely answer is: Yes. He is five to two on and it is hard to look past him, indeed. His commanding performance at Newmarket proved not only that he trained on, but also that he gets a strongly run mile!
That says he is such a short price that I have to take him on – for a reason: He already looked very mature and strong as a juvenile. It is not impossible that others may improve past him with time moving on this year. He also had the run of the race at Newmarket, gaps opened when they needed to open and he was positioned where you would have wanted him to be.
The same couldn’t be said about Ivawood – who is expected to be the biggest danger to Gleneagles today. He finished a very good third at Newmarket, but had to deal with some difficulties as a outlined in my Guineas Review in more detail.
In short: He answered questions marks about his ability to stay the trip but didn’t have the benefit of travelling in the favoured stand side group that day. Only two horses from single figure stalls finished in the top eight eventually – he was the best of them. Ivawood also showed guts when he fought for his gap over 2f out.
This big, strong, well muscled individual made a big impression on my while I had my doubts beforehand. He’s clearly a very talented horse and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him pushing Gleneagles to the limits today. Wheather that is enough to win… well, we’ll see and find out.
Last seasons top rated 2 year old Belardo is fighting for redemption today after an utterly disappointing display in the Greenham Stakes. Has he trained on? This question will be answered today once for all.
I really like Ger Lyons Endless Drama. He was one of my Horss To Follow this season. But I’m surprised to see connections still going along with races and trips seemingly beyond him. In my eyes he’s a sprinter and should be dropped in trip accordingly. I reckon he can be a force over six furlongs.
The rest of the pack: Hard to distinguish them. There might be one or another turning up today who runs the race of his life. Some decent place money is looming. But who is going to be the one? No idea. I would like to see Paco Boy son Lexington Times to show some further progress.
Betting wise, I go with Ivawood. At 6/1 he is worth a punt. If things go normal, he finishes a fair second. But if he can improve a bit from his Newmarket effort, then we’re in for a real fight. He’s overpriced in my book.
Ivawood @ 6/1 Coral @ 5pts win
3.55 Lanwades Stud Stakes (Fillies Group 2)
Dermot Weld’s Brooch is the hot favourite. She is expected to improve from last season where she was unbeaten in three starts, culminating in a strong Group 3 success. However she seemed to need every inch of the 9.5f at Gowran Park and I’m not sure if the drop to a mile is what she really wants. She looks vulnerable, considering her very short price-tag.
Value for me has Lady Dutch. She seems to get better with age and was impressive in her first two UK starts on the Kempton All-Weather. She looked potentially smart when landing a Listed event there in April, producing an impressive change of gear. She was a bit disappointing at Newmarket subsequently, but seemed not t handle the undulations of the course and the wide, galloping Curragh may be a better fit for her.
Lady Dutch @ 8/1 William Hill – 5pts Win