Tag Archives: Irish 2000 Guineas

Saturday Selections: 27th May 2023

Back-to-back winners: Ventura Express won his race at Pontefract quite comfortably. Everything worked to absolute perfection – that’s not always the case: superb ride, hugged the rail, saved ground, kicked on 2f out and game over.

He was well backed all day too, went off 7/2. So I got a great price, although a little lower than originally thought as I only realised in the morning my full stake wasn’t matched as initially thought it did. Topped up and ended up closer to 7s, which is still lovely.

On to Saturday: it’s Irish 2000 Guineas day. I love this day and will make may way down the N7 to the Curragh, of course. This is usually when Ireland is at its most beautiful – warm, and sunny, everything is blossoming. Plenty of hope is in the air right before the first Classic of the Irish flat season as well.

It’s also another Grade 1 day over in South Africa. One of the premier contests for 3-year-old middle-distance horses shapes as a cracker of a race (potential selection in the morning when there is a market for me to back, to be added here).

I also must say the amount of racing this Saturday – and quite frankly most of the days during the week as well – is simply overwhelming. I struggle to keep up and it takes a bit the joy out of it.

I love turf racing, but enjoy the somewhat quieter pace of the All-Weather season more, as sad as that sounds. The latest news from the reshaped fixture list in the UK doesn’t provide much hope that this is to change anytime soon.

………

2.12 Greyville: Grade 1 Daily News 2000, 1m 2f

A hot renewal of the key race for the middle-stance three-year-olds in South Africa. The right horses are here to the most part.

See It Again is a pretty short-priced favourite, and you can see why. He was a 40/1 shock winner in the Cape Derby and followed up nicely in the WSB Guineas earlier this month when he ran on well after getting badly outpaced over three furlongs out.

The step up to 2000m will surely suit and he’s clearly the one to beat, simply given the fact he beat Charles Dickens at Kenilworth, who’s the benchmark every three-year-old is measured against this year, and because he finished so strongly when last seen over a trip a bit on the sharp side.

But he’s a tricky horse as well. One who has to be ridden in a specific way. He wears blinkers for a reason and can race sluggishly. I wouldn’t want to trust him at short odds.

Without Question runs in the same colours and was a good third in the Derby, where he faltered late after pushing the pace. He went on to win a Grade 3 over a mile on his comeback run when last seen, doing so against older horses.

He’s clearly talented and may get the run of the race from close to the pace here.

Cousin Casey is probably the most interesting horse here. A son of 2013 Daily News winner Vercingetorix, he was a brilliant 2-year-old and has done well in his 3yo campaign as well, against seriously tough opposition.

After landing a Grade 2 over a mile on his seasonal reappearance he went on to ran a huge race as runner-up behind Charles Dickens in the Cape Guineas. That pushed him near the top of the market for South Africa’s Premier all-age open middle-distance Grade 1, the Met.

From a wide draw he was caught wide, was pulling hard without cover and eventually pulled his way to the front. He only went down late in the day behind the countries best horses, for a strong 5th place. A huge run.

He got a well-deserved break afterwards, before returning with a fine tune-up race at Greyville, before a solid 4th in the WSB Guineas behind Charles Dickens.

That day he made huge progress from the back of the field on the outside from 4f out. he clearly did too much there, going upside with Charles Dickens and fast finishing See It Again. He paid for those exertions, eventually.

Going up in trip isn’t a worry. He should stay the distance on pedigree and the Met run gives plenty of hope. However, he can pull hard as well, and that’s the main worry.

I believe he’s the best horse in the race, though, if he can get his act together. His Met run is clearly the strongest form in the race, this is his third run after a beak, the one he’s had as the target for a while, he should be at his peak now. With that in mind the odds are generous.

10pts win – Cousin Casey @ 4/1

……..

3.05 Curragh: Listed Orby Stakes, 1m4f

Sionnach Eile looked last season like one very much capable of stepping up listed level when he won back-to-back Handicaps in July. He had a long break since then, and with that in mind the recent Cork comeback run can be ignored.

Nonetheless, he travelled pretty well for a long time before getting pretty tired eventually. You would hope he strips fitter here, and one would think connections have had this contest in mind for a while.

He moves up in trip, which is sure to suit, given he won over twice over 1m 4f+, including the hot Guinness Handicap at Galway when last seen off 94.

That was a clear career-best effort as he achieved a superb 97 speed rating, which gives him an excellent chance in this type of race here, if he could run to the same level of form.

The pace could be muddling, but no bother, Sionnach Eile can move forward and could be hard to catch if allowed to stride on.

10pts win – Sionnach Eile @ 5/1

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3.40 Curragh: Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas, 1m

A sub-standard edition of the first Classic of the Irish Flat season. This seems to evolve around the British raiders for once because Aiden O’Brien’s horses are a surprisingly poor bunch, certainly judged on what they have done up until now.

Proud And Regal is the one exception, as he’s a Group 1 winner from his juvenile season. However, a mile on decent ground is a completely different test to a mile on heavy going in France at the end of a 2-year-old campaign.

Paddington is Ryan Moore’s choice. He won a Listed trial at Leopardstown after winning a hot Handicap on his seasonal comeback. He’s got potential, though, given he hasn’t run any significant speed rating yet, does appear to be well below Group 1 standard.

It’s fair to say Royal Scotsman enhanced his credentials in no uncertain terms in the English 2000 Guineas earlier this month. He ran on well for 3rd place despite showing early keenness, which can’t have helped.

He’s got a huge engine, as we knew from his excellent juvenile campaign as well. No doubt he does stay the trip and the slight uphill finish at the Curragh will be to his advantage.

For all that, he’s a short price, perhaps fairly so, but his tendency to pull hard is a question mark in a race where the pace may not be red hot.

The obvious for me, although I’m certainly biased as well, is Hi Royal. He was one of those 3-year-old colts I flagged in my 3yo to follow piece before the start of the season.

He certainly confirmed the promise shown as a juvenile when he finished a brilliant runner-up at Newmarket in the English 2000 Guineas. For the most part he even looked like the winner, until hanging a potential Classic success in the final furlong away.

Hi Royal has an engine, a turn of foot and does stay beyond a mile probably. He should enjoy the galloping Curragh and the uphill finish to the line.

Somewhat of a question mark is the likely fastish ground, though. The Guineas was on officially soft ground. His sole career victory came with plenty of cut in the ground.

What gives hope is his debut run, when an excellent third in a hot maiden on fast ground. However, he seems to hit the ground hard and the fact he is probably at his best once he moves up to 10 furlongs is a concern.

Nonetheless, he’s the most solid choice and slightly overpriced, given he has proven his class already, settled well, travelles well and has plenty of upside.

10pts win – Hi Royal @ 11/2

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4.10 Haydock: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

This is a wide open contest on paper, but I feel Big R is potentially hard to beat if he acts on the fast ground.

He was a huge eyecatcher on his seasonal reappearance and handicap debut last time at Salisbury, and despite the massive effort, he has been eased by a pound in the meantime. That won’t make too much of a difference as he’s already extremely well-handicapped off 70, most likely.

At Salisbury he was at a disadvantage from the #8 gate right away. He was caught wide and without cover early on, before settling at the back of the field. hen then made rapid progress on outside from the halfway stage to challenge the leaders over 1f out, before getting tired and beaten by those with better draws and closer to the pace.

It rates a huge performance against the pace and track bias. He showed good early speed last year as well, suggesting sprinting is his game. He may stay 7f on pedigree, but 6f appears to be ideal.

Big R was a cheap yearling, so is not one who has tons of scope, probably. Nonetheless, judged on this most recent run he looks clearly better than a 69 Official Rating.

10pts win – Big R @ 4/1

………

4.55 Goodwood: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Huberts Dream looks dramatically overpriced if he’s good to go here. He’s got a good draw to attack the rail and stretch the field, while he may well enjoy the better ground which he didn’t get in those turf starts when expected to run well.

Certainly one can ignore the recent Chester run in deep ground from a #10 draw and he also lost a shoe. He ran with plenty of credit at Lingfield prior in a seriously competitive Handicap.

To continue to run over the minimum trip seems a good idea. He showed signs of severe keenness over 6 furlongs in the past, but at the same time showed that early speed is his biggest asset.

He won well on the All-Weather during the winter notching up a hat-trick of wins achieving multiple speed ratings in the 70s. He’s dangerous here if allowed to run on merit.

10pts win – Huberts Dream @ 22.5/1

…….

Preview: Irish 2000 Guineas

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The Irish 2000 Guineas shapes as an intriguing contest, albeit a wide open one. Can ante-post favourite Siskin reward trainer Ger Lyons with a first domestic Classic success?

The 2020 renewal of the Irish 2000 Guineas, while intriguing, looks hardly a vintage Classic. There is no proven superstar here today – unlike in the English equivalent a few days ago – and given the delay of the season, the race has become an even trickier puzzle to solve.

More than half the field is trained by one man: Aiden O’Brien. While that isn’t anything new, it remains a sad fact that six of eleven runners come from the same yard in an Irish Classic.

Ante-Post Favourite:

The Ger Lyons trained Siskin is the ante-post favourite ever since he ended 2019 unbeaten. Four starts and four wins as a juvenile, with the highlight clearly a first Group 1 success when landing the Phoenix Stakes in August at the Curragh.

On form he is the horse to beat. However, only a week ago we saw that it’s never an easy task to carry over exceptional juvenile form to a classic season – particularly when achieved over shorter sprint distances – when facing rivals that have caught up physically and mentally.

With that in mind one could ask the very same questions as last week when wondering whether a precocious Pinatubo will be able to continue his incredible superiority.

Siskin started his juvenile campaign in May 2019. He raced four times over six furlongs before being put away for the winter after a final victory in the Phoenix Stakes back in August.

The key questions are obvious: Can Siskin improve? Will he stay additional two furlongs?

As mentioned last week in the English 2000 Guineas analysis, the fact that the Guineas is held much later than usual will have a significant impact on what type of horse it’ll suit. It certainly will give the precocious, early foals less an advantage than it does in any normal year. Siskin falls into this category.

On the stamina question: As a juvenile he never left the comfort of the 6 furlongs distance. That doesn’t mean he can’t stay a mile. However his sire First Defence was quite speedy himself and his offspring tends to perform best over shorter distances as well, with a noticeable decline in performance as they step up to a mile – in general terms.

Siskin’s dam stayed a mile, which is encouraging. So is Simon Rowland’s striding analysis that suggests he has a fair chance to stay the new trip.

Probably my biggest issue with Sisikin is that his form is far less impressive than four wins on the trot would usually suggest. He largely beat the same horses over and over again. Most depressingly, even though he had ample opportunity to run fast, he’s never done it.

A career-best 89 topspeed rating is not up to the standard of a top-class colt. Yes, these ratings aren’t the holy grail and have to be taken in the right context, but in my book they do continue to be a fine predictor of class and future success.

Having said that, I simply have to oppose Siskin as the Irish 2000 Guineas favourite. Mind, this isn’t an overly strong renewal. He has a fair chance to go close if he can find answers to the two key questions.

Aiden O’Brien Contenders:

From the comments AOB has made in recent days it feels like that Armory is Ballydoyle’s #1 here. And you can see why.

This son of Galileo was fast enough to win Group races over 7 furlongs, plus was a good runner-up, albeit a long way beaten, behind Pinatubo in the National Stakes and has already Group 1 form over a mile, when finishing third at Longchamp behind subsequent French 2000 Guineas winner Victor Ludorum.

He’ll likely stay further than the mile and should have a bit more to come once stepping up in trip. He ran already to a career-best topspeed rating of 95 and certainly wouldn’t mind any more rain (it has been raining a fair bit here in Kildare over the last 24 hours, and continues to do so as of writing).

Royal Lytham with first time blinkers is interesting stepping up to a trip that could suit on pedigree. He showed good form as a juvenile, in particular when staying on strongly to win the July at Stakes at Newmarket.

He got within a lengths of Siskin in the Phoenix Stakes when things didn’t quite worked his way. He’s an interesting horse but needs to find improvement as he’s yet to run particularly fast.

It’s hard to see Monarch Of Egypt to land a blow. He has a lot to find even with his stable mates. Fort Myers as a big price is a more compelling each-way contender if one wants to back one. His juvenile form is solid, if not spectacular. He should stay the mile and will appreciate if he ground stays decent.

Vatican City is an unknown quantity. A disappointing debut at Newmarket, followed by a visually impressive success on Dundalk’s All-Weather – what that form is worth is difficult to evaluate. Aiden O’Brien speaks fondly of the colt and he can improve any amount, so to speak.

In my view the most intriguing horse from team Ballydoyle is Lope Y Fernandez, though. He showed good form as a 2-year-old, in particular when a strong runner-up behind Pinatubo at Royal Ascot and he also stayed seven furlongs already.

He is a full brother to Al Hayyah who competed well in listed company up to the 1m 2f distance and his dam is a Listed placed miler.

Lope Y Fernandez has ran twice to 90+ topspeed ratings already, including a 95 rating, which is joint-best in this field. Although that is still a bit off a proper Group 1 winning horse, he looked like one in the making when winning the Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh in excellent style, proving himself to be in a different league to the rest of the field in the Group 3 contest.

Also Running:

The unexposed Sinawann stayed a mile well last year already. He looks interesting given the clear indication that he’ll be a much better three-year-old. The son of Kingman will need to improve quite a bit if he wants to emulate his prominent father, but it’s not impossible that he does.

Jim Bolger’s colt Fiscal Rules lacks experience. It has be pointed out, though, that his runner-up debut behind Wichita reads really well, given how well the Aiden O’Brien trained ran at Newmarket last week. Yet, it’s a tall ask to be pitched right into a Classic with only a single start under his belt.

Also quite unexposed is the Jessica Harrington trained Free Solo. A fine winner on his second start last July, he hasn’t been seen yet. The yard is going strongly, so that is a positive. But it’s total guesswork whether this son of Showcasing is good enough to land a blow.

The Verdict:

Only one horse I am really interested in from a betting perspective: Lope Y Fernandez. The fact that he is an April foal who showed quite strong form as a juvenile already while giving the impression he may need a step up in trip to be seen to best effect, I have reasonable hope that he can find the required improvement to be a major player in the 2000 Guineas.

With that in mind he appears to be a bit overpriced for all that there are so many question marks over the other market principles.

Selection:
10pts win – Lope Y Fernandez @ 5/1 VC

Preview: Irish 2000 Guineas 2019

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Finally we get the race we wanted: Too Darn Hot vs. Magna Grecia: meant to happen at Newmarket, now taking place at the new Curragh. A match made in heaven?

Probably not. I’m firmly against the chances of Too Darn Hot. All the hype over the winter has evaporated after injuries forced him to miss his early assignments and a recent defeat in the Dante Stakes have connections revert back to a mile.

For a horse that had issues earlier this year, to go back-to-back so quickly, after stretching out to a trip beyond the comfort zone, now travelling over to Ireland, going back to a mile, right up into Group 1 class – there are a lot of arguments against Too Darn Hot.

Certainly at a short price, despite seeing him on the drift that still has him around a 40-45% chance, I can not have him at all.

The market has it spot on, Magna Grecia is the righteous favourite and I have him pretty much a slightly better than 50% chance – so current odds are more than fair.

The English 2000 Guineas champ has – at least in my mind – stamped his authority firmly on the mile division with the Newmarket victory. The much talked about draw bias was more like a pace bias. After all, Magna Grecia won well in the end, and it appeared to me that in any circumstance he would have been the best horse in the race.┬á

It was his first start in 2019 and he can only improve going forward, is my reckoning. He ran to a time speed rating of 105 that day, in line with previously achieved 102 and 107.

The Newmarket third Skardu remains of high interest. I was sweet on his chances back then. I still like the colt. However he has to find more improvement, which isn’t unlikely given his lightly raced profile, but running subsequently to TS ratings of 90 and 92 is, even though progressive, not quite what’s required here today, I feel.

At around 7/1 he is a fair chance, but nothing more, hence not a bet for me. As I try to refrain from backing below 3/1 usually, I’ll also swerve the notion of “buying money” with Magna Grecia.

The next in line in this Irish 2000 Guineas field are all minority chances. So, anything else with a realistic chance of going close?

Well, the one that I am intrigued by, and always been since his juvenile season, and am delighted to see him here as I would have been interested if he would have lined up at Newmarket, is at a whopping price the other Ballydoyle runner Mohwak.

He’s one that was thought to be a Derby horse. And you could argue that still holds true as he needed a mile to win as a juvenile and ran on well at Chester in the Dee Stakes recently, which is a fine Derby trial in its own right.

Still, in mind stuck is the vision of how he won the Royal Lodge Stakes in rather cozily fashion last season – over a mile on fast ground. He achieved a TS rating of 104 that day – which is close enough to those ratings the two market principles have achieved.

Mohawk seasonal reappearance at Chester earlier this month, when second behind a stable mate who enjoyed the run of the race, in desperate conditions, was an excellent performance, given the circumstances.

I feel, though, the return to a sound surface will see him improve leaps an bounds. And also now fit from his first run in 2019, I can see this son of the almighty Galileo show much more than anything we’ve seen to date.

The mile trip look sharp enough, most likely. The stiff uphill finish of the Curragh can suit, on the other hand.

Whether he is good enough over this trip to battle it out with Magna Grecia remains to be seen. At prices I firmly believe Mohawk is massively undervalued in both win and place market.

Selection:
4pts win – Mohawk @ 27/1 MB
6pts place – Mohawk @ 4/1 MB