Tag Archives: Irish Guineas

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

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.

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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

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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

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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