Tag Archives: 1000 Guineas

Sunday Racing Review

Upset in the 1000 Guineas – Winter won the first ladies Classic of the new season! Or was it even an upset? Maybe not so much because she was subject of substantial market support over the last week or so and some outspoken experts voiced their keenness on the Aiden O’Brien trained filly

Fact is she ran pretty well in the Leopardstown Guineas trial and with natural improvement and enhanced fitness she had always a chance to go close in what appeared to be quite an open renewal beforehand.

Winter got a fine no-nonsense ride by Wayne Lordon – who already sat on her last season when she was still trained by David Wachmann – and once hitting top gear she put lengths between herself and the field.

Stable mate and favourite Rhododendron didn’t enjoy the clearest of runs but finished strongly to claim second eventually.

At the same time I was over at Leopardstown for the Irish Derby Trial Day. Sunny Dublin presented itself from the best side and that made the day at the races so much more pleasant.

The Group 3 Amethyst Stakes went Custom Cut’s way, who finally got his head in front again – it took him nearly two years to do that since he took the Boomerang Stakes here at Leoapardstown back in 2015.

A 1000 Guineas Trial only in the name, because the actual field was poor and I’d be surprised if any of the contestants line up up in the Classic. Jim Bolger trained Jim Feasa won the race – a 99 rated individual not goo enough to land a Gowran Maiden at the fifth time of asking only a week ago. Tells you all about the quality of this race.

Quality was delivered in the main event, the Derby Trial. Two highly regarded and talked about Ballydoyle colts were thought to battle it out – though in the end both Capri and Yucatan had to settle for minors behind stable mate Douglas Macarthur.

I loved to see those famous Jooste colours from South Africa in the winners enclosure. Got a nice colt there with Douglas Macarthur who proved it was no fluke when he ran 2nd in the Ballysax where he also beat Yunatan and Capri.

For the future it might well be Yucatan then who turns out to be best of the trio. He didn’t quite get a clear run – though I felt he had every chance nonetheless – and battled hard to the line. A step up to the Derby trip should not be an issue and he looked simply stunning in the parade ring today.

 

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3.40 Southwell: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

Captain Bob is a very infrequent winner, in fact his last “1” dates back to 2014. However a falling mark seems to have reinvigorate him, particularly on the All-Weather were he has been placed in all his three starts which all came earlier this year.

He also took relatively easily to the Southwell fibresand. In fact he produced a strong performance over 6f when only beaten by a head in the end. This piece of form looks rock solid and judged on it he appears now to be potentially well handicapped.

He followed up with a fine 3rd place at Brighton subsequently on fast ground over 6f but I feel it this more stamina focused test over the same trip at Southwell suits him slightly better, and probably even more so as we now know he acts on the surface and Captain Bob himself has learned how to race on fibresand.

He’s got a good draw and a red hot apprentice in the saddle, so this may represent the best chance in a very long time to finally get his head in front.

Selection:
10pts win – Captain Bob @ 4/1 Bet365

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5.10 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

This is a shockingly poor contest given an 11 year old is favourite and a 20 times maiden is thought to be closes pursuer. However it is the still winless Kodimoor who seems overpriced in this race, despite his desperate record.

Reason to believe he can be very competitive is the fact that he dropped markedly in the weights and finished a decent third in an Apprentice Handicap over CD in January, trying fibresand for the first time.

That form gives him a big chance of effectively 5lb less, given his mark dropped 3lb since then and the change of jockey allowance taken into account – while it is fair to say 7lb claimer David Egan is quite competent and no worse than Ms. Malune who claimed 5lb the other day.

Selection:
10pts win – Kodimoor @ 7/2 Bet365

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7.50 Windsor: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Lightly raced Shergiah should have more to offer now stepping up in trip after a decent comeback run at Lingfield over a mile where a sprint finish did not suit him.

However he looked quite good on his final run in 2016 when he landed a decent maiden at Ripon in impressive style, given how well he picked up once asked for full effort.

This good looking gelding has still a bit of scope to improve and in this not overly strong race he could get his season off to a flyer.

Selection:
10pts win – Shergiah @ 10/3 Paddy Power

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Sunday Tips

The flat changes gear – we saw that today. The 2000 Guineas finally kicked the new season really off and it did so in style. The race produced a blockbuster finish with the better end for the 6/4 favourite Churchill.

It was another superb ride by the master that Ryan Moore is, as he made sure Churchill was in the best position when it really matter, grabbing the rail, to keep the colt focused and in line, which was an advantage.

At least compared to some of the other well fancied rivals, like Al Wukair or Barney Roy for example. The French horse had to go wide around the whole field, found that certainly not easy but finished strongly in his own right. Barney Roy looked still a bit green.

I’d love to see a rematch of the Guineas main contenders this year, and I’m sure we get it. Will be interesting whether it’s gonna be the same outcome? I’ have my doubts.

Sunday will be another massive day. The 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, and the Derby Trial at Leopardstown, plus a handful of other Group races and good Handicaps.

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1.50 Newmarket: Class 2 Handicap, 1m 4f

This is a hot contest with some really good horses lining up. Favourite Big Country is an exciting improver who looks certain to bring his All-Weather form to the turf. His last Kempton win is excellent form and the lightly raced son of High Chaparral could easily defy a 10lb rise in the mark.

However at prices I prefer top weight Frontiersman. Yes, it’s a tough task to run of 101 and 9st 10lb in a Handicap. However this lad looks pattern class. He has filled his huge frame nicely over the winter, strengthening further after a fine 3yo campaign last season that saw him win a nice Handicap over course and distance.

He clearly needed the run on his reapearance at Doncaster last month and should be primed now. Fast ground seems key, which he gets here at Newmarket. He takes plenty of beating in my mind.

Selection:
10pts win – Frontiersman @ 5/1 Paddy Power

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3.55 Leopardstown: Handicap, 7 furlongs

He’s never won on turf, nonetheless Split The Atom looks incredibly well handicapped here. It’s not like that he doesn’t act on grass, in fact he’s been placed six times, however never found the right opportunity.

It looked like he could break the duck at Navan a fortnight ago. He travelled much the best and finished like a train but was arguably an unlucky runner-up.

He’s got a chance to race off the same mark, however with a 5lb apprentice in the saddle and over his preferred 7f trip on fast ground where he has a four out of six place strike rate.

The wide draw is not a problem because he’s a hold-up horse anyway, however it is not easy to win from far back at Leopardstown, so that is an obvious question mark. Nonetheless on RPR’s an time speed figures he has a tremendous chance and I’m happy to go risk at a big price.

Selection:
10pts win – Split The Atom @ 7/1 Bet365

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4.55 Hamilton: Class 5 Handicap, 8.5 furlongs

Kevin Ryan’s Al Hawraa seems judged on a poor seasonal reappearance but it’s likely she’s going to be much sharper this time. We don’t know yet how good (or bad) daughter of Iffraaj is, though there was some indication last season that she is not totally  without talent.

She was able to finish a good runner-up on debut behind subsequent dual winner and she managed to finish in the placings another two times in maiden company. It’s fair to say she looked bad in her two handicap runs, however her opening mark was potentially on the stiff side.

She dropped down to 63 now and judged on her maiden form that could give her a chance to be competitive if she can respond well for the slight step up in trip. Ground looks fine and Kevin Ryan tends to do pretty well at Hamilton even more so if Kevin Stock is in the saddle.

Selection:
10pts win – Al Hawraa @ 14/1 Bet365

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The Irish 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown looks a shocking race on Sunday. What’s the chance that even one of those runs in the actual Classic? On the other hand the Derby Trial is intriguing. Capri versus Yukatan.

Yukatan is held in high regard by the ‘Brien camp. However I actually like Capri a bit better at this stage. The big grey was not suited by the slow pace on his reappearance and it’ll be interesting to if things pan out differently and if that sees him closing the gab to Yukatan.

1000 Guineas Preview

Guineas Weekend Preview

Guineas weekend has firmly arrived – the first Classics of the new flat season nearly upon us…. time is flying – studying the four miler at Cheltenham feels like yesterday!

But it’s great. I love flat racing. I love Newmarket, I love Guineas weekend. It’s when dreams are still dreamed, when the summer starts to make its presence felt and the mind gets fully focused on the flat and all those good looking, fast horses that now emerge on a near daily basis.

My allegiance in the 2000 Guineas is not a secret. I shouted it from the roof for weeks: Al Wukair will give hot favourite Churchill plenty to think about. I stick to my guns and nothing has changed my opinion – I’d be surprised if the French horse doesn’t go close.

Sunday – 1000 Guineas:

Not until last night I made up my mind up on the fillies’ equivalent. Because let’s face it, this is quite an open contest. Yes, another Aiden O’Brien inmate says ‘HI’ from the top of the betting, but  you got to be a brave man to back Rhododendron for what seems quite a skinny price.

With fillies you never know whether they have trained on, whether they are still in love with the game or whether they have set their mind on other things in life. That aside, we haven’t seen Rhododendron since last season, whereas we have seen a number of other intriguing contenders already racing in the last weeks, proving they have trained on.

Also even if you do believe strongly in her juvenile form, it’s probably fair to say that it does tie in with a handful of other runners in the field, and it’s not like that she ran all of them down in the manner of a far superior individual.

Nonetheless it appears that the Irish have a very strong hand in the 1000 Guineas on Sunday, Aiden O’Brien in particular – not only because of Rhododendron.

Big market mover in recent days was stable mate Winter, and you can easily see why. It was a huge run in the 1000 Guineas trial at Leopardstown from her. She had a wider than ideal trip throughout, yet nearly beat stable mate Hydrangea who in contrast had the run of the race from the front.

They grey has plenty of scope and is clearly talented. However the good prices are long gone. Is Hydrangea better value, given she won the trial? Yes, possibly. A good filly, a willing partner for whoever jockey sits atop, a filly that has a fair chance, though she is far from flashy and you wonder whether she can improve from Leopardstown.

The Leopardstown form has been franked in no uncertain terms by third placed Rehana in the meantime – that enhances the chances of Winter and Hydrangea, no doubt. Rehana has been impressive in the Group 3 Athasi Stakes at Naas last weekend.

IMO this piece of form, the Leopardstown Trial, is therefore key in determining the winner of the 1000 Guineas. In saying that the filly that came fourth that day is clearly the one of most interest to me.

Intricately providing young Joseph his first Classic winner? What a story that would be. She is still a whopping price, which puzzles me, particularly because the vibes from the yard seem positive.

Anyway, Leopardstown was clearly an occasion where  the main aim was to get a run under her belt. Still she ran a perfectly fine race. She raced off the pace which wasn’t ideal in this particular contest, but she travelled well enough through the race and eventually finished less than 2 lengths beaten, without getting a hard ride at all.

It should put her right for when it really matters. Lest we forget, Intricately already is a Group 1 winner! She beat Hydrangea in a tight finish in the Moyglare last season – Rhododendron was nearly two lengths back in third.

The one mile trip won’t be an issue for her. Yes, she was disappointing at Santa Anita, but that was right at the end of the season. You could draw from that performance that quick ground is a slight concern, though. However in terms of stamina, I don’t worry too much. She looks a filly that cries out for an extra furlong.

In summary, Intricately looks a big price – too big. She has the right profile, is well bred for the job, has race fitness on her side and is clearly classy given she is a Group 1 winner – so Intricately @ 18/1 is my selection for the 1000 Guineas.

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5.00 Goodwood: Class 5 Handicap, 10f

Duchess Of Fife looks an intriguing contender for a red hot yard. The filly was pretty raw with plenty to learn in all her three maiden runs last season, however as an April foal she should have scope to improve this season. She has quite a big frame to fill too, so a winter may have done her the world of good.

A hood is applied for the first time, so she does try the 10f trip. Her maiden form looks solid rating wise, giving her every chance of an opening mark of 65. She will need to find improvement for the distance, headgear and maturity, but if she does make a step forward she should go very close here.

Selection:
10pts win – Duchess Of Fife @ 9/1 Bet365

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6.50 Doncaster: Class 2 Handicap, 7f

Bottom weight Aardwolf is a very interesting contender after an excellent comeback run on the back of a gelding op during the winter. With his WFA allowance and prominent racing style he could steel the race.

Nonetheless a safer pick is Gallipoli who looks certain to progress after a classy victory at Leicester last moth. The four year old is still quite lightly raced and had only three starts over this 7f trip, with legitimate excuses the first two starts over this trip where didn’t quite perform too well.

Gallipoli has course form – he got off the mark on debut here over 5f on fast ground. So conditions are sure to suit him. Hopefully there will be enough pace, as it seems not too many want to go forward. However he showed in the past to be able to track the pace and change gear.

Selection:
10pts win – Gallipoli @ 10/3 William Hill

Preview: 1000 Guineas

Before a detailed look into the 1000 Guineas, let’s have a quick word about the first classic of the 2016 flat season. One could probably say the 2000 Guineas didn’t finish the way many would have foreseen it. Even though, hailing my own judgement, I called out Galileo Gold as a big runner as long as he handles the track. He clearly did!

Now, I still didn’t selected him to win, but that’s okay because as the world’s biggest Paco Boy fan I just get a thrill out of it solely on the emotional side of things. My beloved all-time favourite horse finally got his first Group 1 winner on the board as a sire. He stands for a small fee at Highclere Stud these days – this will hopefully see him getting some classy mares in the future.

Back to the 2000 Guineas winner, Galileo Gold. He didn’t have it all that easy from his draw, but Frankie gave him a peach of a ride. The horse travelled like a dream throughout and quickened in taking style. You got to be impressed! Next stop Derby? Maybe. Connections believe he could stay the much longer trip

I’m not in the same camp yet, have to see it to believe it. Let’s not forget Paco Boy himself was a star miler, but probably got the trip only because of the patience of his rider, Richard Hughes. In my book he was always a 7 furlong specialist, stretched out to the mile.

The red hot favourite Air Force Blue was brutally disappointing. “Probably overtrained” was the explanation from Aiden O’Brien. Maybe he simply didn’t trained on at all? I’ll give him another chance because in all fairness, when I saw him at the Curragh earlier this year, he looked like a bigger, stronger horse, ready to do some damage in top class company this year.

I loved the run of stable companion Air Vice Marshal. He ran a heck of a race and I expect him to come on dramatically for the run. Once he gets quicker ground I can see him definitely being up to win a big race this year.

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Preview: 1000 Gunieas

It’s the fillies’ turn today. The ground has dried out further – we’ve got genuinely good conditions at Newmarket. Again it’s a red-hot favourite from the Ballydoyle camp greeting from the top of the market: Minding.

And rightly so. On her two year old form you can’t oppose her. You can’t! A two-times Group 1 winner, ready to go on any ground, proven to get the trip as well as handling the Rowley Mile. A big, scopey filly, she looked super at the Curragh at the end of March too.

But we’ve seen it only 24h ago, that all can count for nothing. The performance today is what matters. And we don’t know whether she has improved over the winter until we see her showing it on the race track. Also, with these fillies, things are less straightforward than with the colts. I got to oppose her given her super short price-tag, even though I readily admit I may look foolish in a couple hours time.

What else’s in the race? 15 other fillies! A big field, and look no further for exciting opposition than Mark Johnston’s Lumiere. Winner of the Chevely Park Stakes, she’s got talent and speed but should also prove to have enough stamina to get the mile. Only thing is, her dam hasn’t produced anything of note yet.

Aiden O’Brien’s second and third string aren’t taken lightly. Ballydoyle – the filly – took longer than expected to hit full stride last season but finished the year on a high note landing a big Group 1 in France. She looked not quite as good as Minding when the two meat in the Moyglare, but it’s far from impossible that she’s able to turn the form around.

What I don’t like, and I said the same about Air Force Blue yesterday, is the tongue-tie, applied for the first time. There is often a reason for this, and it can be an indicator for some sort of a breathing problem. Doesn’t have to be, but can be and I’d be cautious.

Alice Springs is the least fancied of Aiden’s, though I like her allot! She was busy in the second half of 2015, a bit an unlucky runner-up in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf but clearly talented, scopey frame and there wasn’t much wrong with her return earlier this month; a fair third at Leopardstown in a Guineas trial. In fact it looked a lovely pipe opener in my eyes.

That day, on bottomless ground, it was difficult to make up ground from behind so the bird was flown early on but Alice Springs stayed on nicely. The mile trip doesn’t pose any concern, but the good ground is something she’ll definitely like.

Nell Gwyn winner Nathra is an exciting prospect. She has a run under her belt, has clearly trained on and is open to further improvement. Plus I really loved the way she cruised through the field in the Nell Gwyn, gliding through like a hot knife through butter. But you wonder whether a hotly contested mile is a bit too far for her stamina wise?

The Nell Gwynn looks a key trial nonetheless. Robanne stayed on late in third after being pretty badly outpaced from over three furlongs out. She gives the impression of a filly crying out for a trip. Mix And Mingle was right there too, finished 4th but looked outpaced as well and very much laboured. Both don’t strike me as Guineas winners.

Jim Bolger had plenty of placed runners but no winners for quite some time now. He’s due to win one pretty soon. Can Turret Rocks be the one? She was a smart juvenile – winner of the Group 2 Marry Hill and runner-up to Ballydoyle in the Prix Marcel Boussac. Her current rating puts her right in the mix here, although she’s certainly not a flashy type.

Whether French raider Midweek can transfer her best to drying Newmarket ground is debatable. I’d be concerned. Her best form came on very soft ground up until now. The same goes for Jet Setting. A fine winner of the Irish 1000 Guineas trial, though on heavy ground. Her only other win also came on a very deep surface.

I should mention speedy Zoffany daughter Illuminate. Already a multiple Group winner over 6f, she wasn’t disgraced at the Breeders Cup when stepping up to a mile. That day she seemed to hit a wall in the closing stages and I find it hard to see her getting the trip.

Verdict: On last years form it’s hard to look past Minding. But she is short enough to take her on, particularly with equally exciting stable mate Alice Springs, who certainly overpriced at around 20’s.

I do like Nathra a lot, though the drying ground and step up in trip is a concern and making a second selection here against the hot favourite I prefer the Bolger filly Turret Rocks. She probably gets further in time and seems very much one paced, but at the same time she’s tough and genuine and can outrun her price tag of 25/1.

Preview: Leopardstown – Desmond Stakes

Jockeys Joe O'Brien

7.25 Leopardstown: Desmond Stakes (Group 3), 1m

It’s easy to see why Cougar Mountain is odds-on. He took on some of the hottest milers in the world this season and didn’t fare to badly. I feel, though, he has been flattered by the results. he doesn’t seem to have the cruising speed required to win at top level. Nonetheless that gives him a clear shot at an easier target today. He’s vulnerable to the younger horses, though.

Of the tiro of three year olds, Tamadhor is hard to fancy, but Convergence and Raydara must have excellent chances to win this race. The former one has already won a Group 3 at this track earlier this year. He carries a penalty for the success but with further improvement might be able to defy it.

However everything points to a big run of Raydara. The filly is a juvenile Group 2 winner and will appreciate the quick ground today. It was  a tough assignment to kick off her classic campaign in the Irish 1.000 Guineas where she didn’t land a blow, not surprisingly. But her subsequently 4th place in the Group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes rates a big performance. She travelled like the winner until the final furlong marker, found the 9f trip then a bit too far eventually.

Dropped back to a mile, on quick ground, she should be a big runner. She receives tons of weight all around from her rivals and on this terms she looks the most likely winner in the race for me. I consider her to be overpriced at 7/2 in this small field.

Raydara @ 7/2 Bet365 – 5pts Win

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!

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Photo Gallery – Irish 2000 Guineas

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