Talking Points Irish Guineas Weekend

Gleneagles is “The Best Miler Ever” 

On the verge of the Irish 2000 Guineas Aiden O’Brien seemed to become overwhelmed by his emotions. He ennobled Gleneagles, hailing him as “the best miler we have ever had”. That is some achievement in its own right, especially given the amount of classy horses passing through his hands year in year out.

This statement came just minutes after Gleneagles completed the 2000 Guineas double. He had to fight hard for it and it was a much closer finish than at Newmarket, where absolutely everything went to plan. This time, Gleneagles, boxed in on the rails, had to show an awful lot of class to win. He did exactly that.

But does it make him the best ever? Well, who am I to object his handlers experienced opinion. He, who has seen it all! Though, one could get the feeling that Aiden uses the term “best ever” a bit too loosely these days. Anyway, Gleneagles is certainly a very good colt. A true miler. A world-class miler.

Pearl Secret Lands A Big One

Sprint races can sometimes be a bit like lotto: Draw a number or throw a pin and wherever it lands that’s the horse to win. Admittedly, now I’m cynical. Yet there is some truth in it! These big sprint races are so much down to day form, it doesn’t always honour the actual form book. Run the same race ten times and you’ll almost certainly get ten different results.

So happened in the Temple Stakes at Haydock on Saturday. Pearl Secret was a slightly surprising winner of the Group 2 sprint. Yes, he was runner-up in the very same race last year, but back then on bottomless ground and before Saturday he only managed to win at Listed- or Conditions Stakes level. Now he has “a big one” on his CV!

Pearl Secret was followed home by Jack Dexter, who hasn’t won since November 2013, and 40/1 shot Wind Fire. Favourite Hot Streak finished sixth, but in truth never landed a blow. So much about the Lotto theory

Jim Bolger The Magician

Round Two
Round Two

The County Kilkenny handler had it spot on: he knew his main contender for the 1000 Guineas wasn’t a miler. So he employed two pace makers, to ensure there would be no dawdling around. The good, consistent pace helped Pleascach in a way to relax but also to offset her lack of tactical speed and instead have a race with emphasize on stamina. It worked to perfection.

Pleascach took up the lead from two furlongs out and stayed strongly to line, fending off all challengers, including the one of red hot favourite Found. The stiff uphill finish at the Curragh clearly suited her cause too.

The next Jim Bolger star is already lined up. His Round Two won the Listed Marble Hill Stakes in comprehensive style at the Curragh on Saturday, overcoming question marks about his speed over the minimum trip as well as a wider than ideal draw. The Teofilo son can only get better with time and distance. He seems the ideal favourite for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot next month.

Found Is No World-Beater

Hot Irish 1000 Guineas Favourite Found wasn’t able to land the odds in Sunday’s big race and instead had to settle for second. She didn’t get the clearest of runs as she was in a pocket over 2f out. The eventual winner, Bolger’s Pleascach, got first run and fend off Found’s charge gamely in the closing stages.

In the aftermath not everyone thought the best horse won – and I tend to agree to an extend – yes, Found was slightly unlucky, but that says she got out into the clear at the two furlong marker and had all the time in the world to make up the ground. She didn’t quicken rapidly enough, though, needed almost a full furlong to hit top gear. She clearly is no world-beater. At least not over the mile trip.

Compare her run to the one of Gleneagles in the 2000 Guineas – he had even less time to finish off his race once in the clear. But he did it in the manner of a true mile champion. He found a way to win, quickened when it mattered.

Nonetheless, Found’s Guineas performance is encouraging. She’ll be better over further. It may turn out that 1m 2f is her optimum, but the Oaks distance is very much possible and she now goes to Epsom as one of the favourites.

Endless Drama A Chaser In The Making

Endless Drama
Endless Drama

Just kidding. But you’ll laugh, there was more than one person suggesting the idea of giving him a spin over the big fences. And you can see why. He is a very big boy, indeed! I was slightly overwhelmed when this huge thing passed me in the parade ring for the first time.

I mean, there you have all these good looking three year olds walking around, very much looking like three year olds should look like. And then suddenly you have this monster of a horse walking towards you – is this still the Curragh or already Aintree? Guineas or Grand National Day?

In my 2000 Guineas preview I voiced slight disappointment to see Endless Drama running over 1m yet again. He didn’t look like staying thus far in two previous attempts over 6f+. On pedigree he seems a rather dubious stayer too. Add all the early speed he usually shows and you could easily come to the conclusion that he is actually a sprinter.

On Saturday, though, different tactics and better ground seemed to work wonders. He finished the Guineas well enough to suggest he can be a good miler. A close second behind Gleneagles is surly a very strong piece of form. Yet, I’d love to see him over six furlongs. I think he could be a force over that sort of trip.

Al Kazeem’s Second Spring

It’s never been straightforward for him. Al Kazeem lost almost his entire Classic season, but came back stronger than ever the following season, when he beat Camelot in the 2013 Tattersalls Gold Cup. That’s now exactly two years ago. He went on to land the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and Coral Eclipse the same year and was subsequently retired to stud as potentially hot property for all the lovely fillies in the world.

Didn’t work out in the breeding shed. He was soon back in training and after a couple of respectable efforts he finally muscled his way to another heroic Group 1 victory – Sunday at the Curragh, beating some serious opposition in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

He’s the kind of horse you won’t find enough of in flat racing. But these classy veterans are what the sport is craving for. Fans want to follow horses over more than one or two season. What is part and parcel in jump racing, is much more difficult at the top end of the game on the flat. So it’s great to see Al Kazeem, a seven year old now, as good and happy as ever!

————

Photo Gallery – Irish 2000 Guineas

Preview: German 2000 Guineas – First Classic Success for Paco Boy?

Capella Sansevero 

Excellent line-up for the German 2000 Guineas. The home team looks to have a very strong hand and it could be tough for the foreign raiders to land a blow.

Andreas Wöhler trains two exciting colts in Karpino and Making Trouble. The former is trading as the red hot favourite after he won the Dr. Busch Memorial (G3) in excellent fashion on his seasonal debut, which was only his second career start. He drops slightly in trip today, which must not be an inconvenience, but he might be vulnerable against speedier sorts I feel, as he poses a very stamina laden pedigree.

Stable mate Making Trouble has the 1 mile trip written all over as a son of former world class miler Paco Boy. He won a Listed event over 1.500m on his seasonal reappearance in really good style and is expected to come on for the run. He should certainly improve for the step up to 1m and his trainer voiced satisfaction with Making Trouble’s progress prior to the big race.

Brisanto won the Group 3 Preis des Winterfavoriten in horrible conditions when last seen in October 2014. He’s a definite player if race fit, though the better ground is not sure to suite entirely. Agent Provocateur can’t be ruled out with fitness assured. He won a Conditions Race in France earlier this month and should get the additional furlong today but obviously has to raise his game in order to be competitive in this field.

Irish raider Capella Sansevero tries to redeem himself today after a lacklustre performance in the Newmarket 2000 Guineas. The runner-up of last years Coventry Stakes is a very speedy sort and that means he is not a sure stayer. On pedigree it’s certainly doubtful and his last run doesn’t instil much confidence either.

Maroc Botti has a proven track record in this race so it seems significant that he brings progressive Fanciful Angel over to Cologne. He won a Listed event at Lingfield last month and could have easily more to offer. More is needed here today, though, as this form hasn’t really worked out yet.

Verdict: If Karpino fails to fire today then victory can still go Andreas Wöhler’s way. His second string Making Trouble seems overpriced. He was impressive when winning a Listed event recently and should improve for the new trip. He can provide a first classic success for his sire Paco Boy and has clearly inherited a lot from his prominent daddy, most notably the sharp turn of foot.

Making Trouble @ 12/1 Bet365 – 5pts Win

Curragh Big Race Preview: Irish 1000 Guineas

Joseph O'Brien
Found is the talking horse of the week. Rumours circulating that she’s heading for the Epsom Derby if she does well today. We’ll see how much merit these talks have but for now the sights are set on the big race on home soil. She is the overwhelmingly short favourite to land yet another Irish 1000 Guineas for Ballydoyle and Aiden O’Brien, and no doubt she has all the right credentials.

Still lightly raced, but impressive as a juvenile, she was far from disgraced in her seasonal comeback run, albeit punters who backed her were less pleased when she finished only second in the 7f Athasi Stakes.

She faces some stiff competition from the own stable though. Kissed By Angels looked a big baby on her Limerick debut but clearly raised to the occasion when landing the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown on only her second ever outing. The merit of the race is debatable, her performance isn’t.

Despite racing wide, this wonderfully bred Lillie Langtry daugther produced a tremendous change of gear almost effortless from three to two furlongs and scooted clear in horrendous conditions. Better ground should be appreciated today.

One time raced Joailliere is another one to feel a bit excited about. She has only won a poor maiden at Gowran Park on her sole career start, but the way she did it was simply sensational. She clearly looks a pattern performer in the making, has to overcome a lack of experience today, though. That says, in care of Dermot Weld, you would expect her to be ready for the big day.

Vibes around Bocca Baciata have been positive. Jessica Haarrington has clearly a lively Guineas contender on her hands, despite the fact that this experienced filly – today marks her fifth start – has already won over 10f. She won the Listed Salsabil Stakes which is very strong form. It remains to be seen how she handles the drop in trip.

Jim Bolger’s Pleascach was runner-up behind Bocca Baciata at Navan and subsequently won a Group 3 over 10f by eight lengths. She is clearly smart, but has also to deal with the sharper trip. Unlike Raydara, who is already a Group 2 winner, albeit over 7f. She makes her seasonal debut and tries the mile trip for the first time. Hard to know what to expect, as the ground may not quite be fast enough for her.

Malabar was a fair fourth in the English 1000 Guineas, but was still a long way beaten and didn’t have many excuses. More is needed today. Jack Naylor was a good third behind Found in the Group 1 Marcel Boussac at Longchamp last year. If she is fit first time out she could be a very interesting runner.

The rest of the field is very much up against it. However I wouldn’t be surprised if the third Aiden O’Brien inmate Qualify could improve dramatically from her poor Newmarket showing.

Verdict: The favourite Found is the class act and obviously the one to beat, but very short in the betting, given that it is not clear if she is as good a three year old as she was a juvenile. Others may have stepped up their game too, and the opposition from stable mate Kissed By Angels looks significant. With the recent experience behind, she is expected to know much more what the game is all about and she is open to any kind of improvement. She is the value in the race.

Kissed By Angels @ 7/1 Coral – 5pts Win

Big Race Preview: Tattersalls Gold Cup

Al Kazeem

Great to see the Tattersalls Gold Cup finally posing a field worthy its top level status – that wasn’t the case in recent years! But this years renewal makes certainly up for the lack of classy contenders over the last couple of seasons.

Top rated The Grey Gatsby was no match for new emerging French star Solow (taking on Cirrus Des Aigles at Longchamp today) in the Dubai Turf back in March but the 9 furlongs trip was probably a bit on the sharp side for him. He wasn’t disgraced finishing second and is expected to come on for the run.

The stiff Curragh uphill finish may well suit this gutsy grinder – on the other hand, it will ensure that any flaws in his stamina are going to be exploited over the 10.5f trip. His only try over further than 10f ended in defeat. Thay may sound a contradicting given that I sad 9f have been potentially too sharp. But it seems that a flat 10 furlongs is the absolute optimum for The Grey Gatsby. 

Nonetheless his heroic Irish Champions Stakes victory is the standout piece of form. No doubt he’s at he head of the market for all the right reasons. He is the horse the others have to beat.

Exactly two years ago it was Al Kazeem who took the scalp of Camelot in this very same race. He went on to win the Coral Eclipse and was initially retired at the end of the 2013 season. He didn’t make it as a stallion in the breeding shed but clearly didn’t lose much of his old ability. He won a French Group 2 back in April and went on to push Cirrus Des Aigles hard in the Group 1 Prix Ganay. That’s very strong form and gives Al Kazeem a very decent shot today!

Progressive Postponed has clearly trained on. He is a big, scopey individual, who impressed on his seasonal reappearance when second in the Gordon Richards Stakes. He’ll relish the stamina test this track and trip will provide, but is it enough?

He seems bit better over further and may need quick ground to be seen to best effect as well. However he has every chance to prove me wrong one this particular perception today. Drying ground is surely a plus.

Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock emerged as a lively Derby contender early last season but those dreams didn’t materialize eventually. He was off after two disappointing performances in the English and Irish Derby but looked stronger and more mature first time out at Leopardstown in a Listed race over 1m back in April this year.

He followed up with an impressive display in the Group 3 Mooresbridge Stakes over 10f here at the Curragh. Today is is his toughest test to date but he looks improving as an older horse now and may well be up to it.

Parish Hall finished a fair second behind Fascinating Rock last month. He was clearly second best on the day should be found out for class today. Highly Toxic looks very much up against it in this field.

Verdict: Hard to split the big guns. That’s why I go with Fascinating Rock who seems a bit overpriced. He has to prove that he belongs in this class as well as that he can act on better ground alike. But there is every chance for more improvement from him. The way he put the race to bed last month here at the Curragh impressed me and I don’t think that the ground is a real issue. We’ll find out today if he is a proper Group 1 horse, or maybe just slightly below the level required to mix it with the very best.

Fascinating Rock @ 11/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Kimbay can exploit featherweight!

DSC_0231

2.15 Curragh: Handicap, 6 furlongs

There isn’t much between the first two in the betting, In Salutem and Captain Cullen. They finished close to each other in a 5f sprint at Navan recently and neither of them will mind the additional furlong today. It’s really hard to split them on that particular form. That says both should be thereabouts but don’t appeal to me in terms of price. I feel the odds reflect their chances in fair way.

I liked Russian Soul’s gutsy performance at Cork only two days ago. He’ll be better for the step up in trip and was a bit unlucky in his penultimate run. Though he’ll need to bring his absolute A-game to the Curragh today in order to overcome a monstrous weight of 10 stone four!

The value in this field lies with Kimbay in my mind. Still not too many miles on the clock for a five year old, she can race off a featherweight and might be well in on the weights judged on her progressive last season. She won four races and been only beaten by a head in the other two starts that year. She is up by 7lb for her final appearance at Dundalk in December when she won a very competitive 5f sprint. This form worked out very well though, which means she could still be well handicapped.

Kimbay has done well as a fresh horse in the past and while this here represents a significant step up in class, the conditions should suit down to the grounds. At 8/1 she looks overpriced in my eyes, given her profile.

Kimbay @ 8/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Curragh Preview – Irish 2000 Guineas Day

Gleneagles

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

Speedy Washington Dc can land Marble Hill Stakes!

Curragh

Yes, finally! The Irish flat season kicks off! It’s the Guineas weekend at the Curragh – should be really good! I like the entries for most of the big races and look particularly forward to the 2.000 Guineas – of course it’s all about Gleneagles – isn’t it?! Well, more about that later.

Not sure if I go both days, but surly won’t miss Saturday. While looking through the first couple of races, there is one race that sticks out immediately – so let’s have a look…

2.15 Curragh: Marble Hill Stakes (Listed)

This could be an early pointer for Royal Ascot – a lovely race with some really nice individuals going to post. Plenty of strong form on offer, it’s bound to be competitive! The stiff five furlongs might not suit everyone though, however there won’t be many excuses as the ground is drying all the time with warm temperatures clearly helping the cause.

Jim Bolger is training more and more horses for Godolphin these days and with Teofilo son Round Two he has a smart prospect on his hands. Round Two won a good Conditions race on his racecourse debut at Navan, beating a fine LTO winner in second. He’s bound for major improvement and his trainer is pretty sweet on him. Concerns are the drop in trip since his debut came on soft over 6f and he seemed to take a while to hit top gear that day. That may have been greenness, nonetheless any flaws will be exploited here.

Exiting Stae Of Emergency is already a two times course and distance winner this season. He followed up here from his successful debut in a hot Conditions Race earlier this month with a gutsy performance to take the scalp of a well fancied Bolger inmate. There is likely more to come and this Listed contest will tell us whether he’s an Ascot horse or not. He has all his form on soft ground, so the drying ground conditions are a question mark

A race like this wouldn’t be complete without a highly promising Aiden O’Brien inmate. His Washington Dc makes plenty of appeal after he showed tremendous speed at Tipperary four weeks ago. Six days earlier he was very green at Dundalk on his racecourse debut – that day beaten in a tight finish. He improved dramatically at Tipperary. Quick at the start, he was soon travelling like a dream all over his rivals and won that 5f maiden easily on the bridle. O’Brien said afterwards  the big target for Washington DC this summer is the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The second Bolger runner Taisce Naisiunta was a fine maiden winner in bottomless ground. He probably has a bit to find with the better fancied rivals. In contract Blood Moon has beaten already Washington Dc this year, last month at Dundalk. And he was not far behind State Of Emergency in a Conditions Race here at the Curragh. He might be able to outrun is big price-tag. Neither out of the equation is Athas An Bhean. A fine debut winner, he followed up with a good effort in the Listed Marygate Fillies’ Stakes.

Verdict: The first three in the betting are all set to become future pattern class performers. But it is Washington Dc who could have the brightest future ahead of himself. The minimum trip will suit this speedy Zoffany son down to the grounds and I’d surprised if he isn’t a much shorter price when the gates crash open. Therefore I’m happy to get on him now for a price which in my book is too big, taking the likely big improvement into account.

Washington Dc @ 9/4 Betfred – 10pts Win

Horse Racing Around The Globe

%d bloggers like this: