Sunday Big Race Previews – Curragh

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It’s been a hack of a day at Leopardstown yesterday! Thankfully we were blessed with some lovely sunshine for most parts, although it didn’t prevent Gleneagles from being withdrawn. Nonetheless the Irish Champion Stakes turned into an afair full of drama and afterthought. Johannes Vermeer’s 7/1 win made it a profitable day for me -I shall gonna review the whole thing in more depth later on, but for now let’s focus on leg two of the Irish Champions Weekend.

2.35 Blandford Stakes Stakes (Group 2), 1m 2f

The Curragh didn’t get as much rain as I would have expected, so we have nearly perfect conditions, although I have the slight feeling it will ride a bit tacky. Tapestry returns to the track and sets a good standard and the one to beat if she is able to race to her best today. Ground and trip are fine for her, but it’s a deep race and her price offers little value given the fitness questions.

To an extend the same applies to Bocca Baciata, at least if it comes to her price. I fancy the three year old to run well today, after she was ultra impressive here at the Curragh the other day. But this is a tougher race today, a slightly different trip and ground. We’ll find out whether she is up to it. I guess she is, but I don’t want to find out with my money.

Ultra consistent Ribbons should go close once again. She hasn’t won in a dozen starts now, and that is a slight concern. The French are represented with Kataniya, who looks vulnerable over the 10f trip. I’m not sure what to make of Carla Bianca. Back after an unsuccessful trip to the US, she can be anything today.

The most intriguing runner is British raider Lady Tiana. Ideally the ground would be a bit softer and the trip a bit longer. But she looks a filly still open to progress. She had only two starts this season, was desperately unlucky on her seasonal debut and made up for it in July when landing the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks in most impressive fashion.

I believe she can be competitive in today’s conditions for reasons that she is a very strong traveller, with high cruising speed who also possess a sharp turn of foot, adding to the fact that she is two from three over the 1m 2f trip.

Lady Tina @ 12/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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3.40 Moyglare Stud Stakes (Group 1), 7f

Will we see next years 1000 Guineas winner in this race? Maybe. There has been plenty of talk about the Aiden O’Brien trained Ballydoyle in recent weeks – after a slow start to her career, she finally her talent when winning two on the bounce in excellent style. She’s got a Group 2 CD win to her name now and therefore has earned rightfully her place as favourite today.

But how will she cope with the slightly easier ground? We’ll see. She’ll have to be at her best, that’s for sure, as Dermot Weld’s classy filly Tanaza adds another dimension to this race. This Dubawi filly coped well with quick ground on her first two career starts, when she produced a sharp turn of foot. Conditions today will suit perfectly.

Weld has been full of appreciation for Tanaza after winning the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown a shade cosily back in July. So she may well be the real deal. At the given odds it is a no-brainer for me to select her against short priced favourite Ballydoyle.

Tanaza @ 5/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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4.15 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Group 1), 7f

This should come down to a battle between Air Force Blue and Herald The Dawn. The two top rated male juveniles of their generation have both a bright future ahead, if their last performances are to believe.

Potentially the best juvenile sprinter around at the moment, Air Force Blue proved his class in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes last month where he trashed a deep field. He’s likely to be able to stretch out anther furlong, but I wouldn’t bet a short price doing it as powerful as he did over 6f.

Herald The Dawn looks a star miler in the making. He won the Group 2 Futurity Stakes over CD last month, making hard work of it in horrible ground. He’ll appreciate the sounder surface today. He looked smart when getting off the mark in a Naas maiden before on quick ground and Jim Bolger has been quoted saying that this lad is as good as his full-brother Dawn Approach was. Bold words!

Herald The Dawn seems a cracking bet in a race where nothing else really stands out. He’s more than double the price of Air Force Blue, and therefore easy to back.

Herald The Dawn @ 9/4 VC – 10pts Win

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4.50 Irish St Leger (Group 1), 1m 6f

Intriguing contest, much deeper and more interesting than the Doncaster equivalent which ended in a joke yesterday – Bondi Beach won the race in the stewards room. it gives trainer Aiden O’Brien the chance of a “Leger Double”. He saddles favourite Order Of St George who was a wide margin winner of the Irish St Leger trial. He was a close runner-up behind Bondi Beach a couple of weeks before over course distance, too.

Personally I’m not yet convinced OOSG stays the Leger trip as powerfully as he will have to in order to be successful in this very deep renewal. He has been outstayed by Bondi Beach before, and the same scenario looms today when he faces some top class stayers.

Last years winner Brown Panther comes back from a eserved break which he enjoyed after a successful campaign at Meydan. He has done remarkably well as a fresh horse in the past, so a big run is expected once again. Although this renewal looks stronger than last years race.

Kingfisher is an interesting contender, if he’s able to find back to his best form. He is a strong stayer as he proved in the Ascot Gold Cup. Cumani’s Second Step may improve for the step up in trip and could well be in the mix. That says he certainly needs to find a couple of pounds  to feature.

Progressive Agent Murphy has been a revelation this season. He has taken step up in classes easily and has now the chance to prove his worthiness on the highest level. For all of that he should appreciate the Leger trip.

I haven’t lost faith in Forgotten Rules, yet. He was outstayed in the Ascot Gold Cup when 3rd eventually on unsuitable quick ground. Nonetheless, a strong performance. Once can ignore his last performance in the Group 3 Curragh Cup when a long way beaten by Bondi Beach and Order Of St George as the run came only ten days after Royal Ascot, and therefore way too soon.

However Forgotten Rules is still a pretty lightly sort, actually. And therefore could be open to further progress. So far he has won four out of six career starts and had excuses in the last two, as outlined. He’s a major chance in my book with conditions sure to suit.

You can’t rule out Sea Moon completely. He’s back in Europe after an unsuccessful time in Australia and was a fair second over course and distance behind OOSG in the Leger Trial, albeit a long way beaten. That run may have blown the cobwebs away and he could sneak into the placings today.

Wicklow Brave is a fine stayer in his own right but hard to fancy in this company. Brittish raider Vent De Force looked an outstanding staying prospect in the making earlier this season but has only been disappointing since.

Forgotten Rules @ 11/2 Coral – 5pts Win

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