This weekends racing at the Curragh looks very competitive indeed. The 2000 Guineas is the highlight on Saturday with the 1000 guineas and the Tattersalls Gold Cup the highlights on Sunday. The weather is to be kind for a change with the ground good or good/firm almost guaranteed. I will concentrate on the 2000 guineas which on today’s five day declarations looks like being a cracker.

Aidan O’Brien has trainer four of the last five winners with Richard Hannon winning the other one with the excellent Canford Cliffs. Aidan has eight declared at this stage but will most likely end up with half that amount by final declarations. The bookies have Cristoforo Columbo as favourite (3/1) who only managed a staying on fifth in the English 2000 guineas. Ahead of him that day was Van Der Neer who also stayed on well to pass his fading stablemate Toronado. The bookies price Van Der Neer at 4/1 second favourite but I can see him confirming superiority over the favourite. He will appreciate the stiffer Curragh Mile as much as Cristoforo Columbo will with the ground going to ride similar to Newmarket.

Fort Knox I have written about before and it would be a heck of a start for Johnny Murtagh’s training career to win a Group 1 with his first runner as a trainer. He is sure to run very well as everything has gone smoothly since he won his guineas trial but is not proven on good/firm ground! Mars is another near the top of the betting and he finished sixth just a half a length behind stablemate Cristoforo Columbo in the English version of the guineas. That was only his second racecourse start and there is sure to be a lot of improvement to come. He is interesting at a best priced 8/1 but that could shorten significantly if stable Jockey Joseph O’Brien decides to ride him instead of the current favourite.

Magician impressed Jockey Ryan Moore when showing a nice turn of foot to win at Chester in the Dee Stakes over 10 furlongs. The drop in trip would be no issue with Ryan Moore quoted as saying he has “a nice turn of foot” following his Chester win. Another string to Aidan O’Briens bow as it he does not have enough with French guineas fourth Gale Force Ten & breeders Cup Juvenile winner George Vancouver declared today also.

Jim Bolger will most likely have Loch Gorman as his main contender with Trading Leather a possible but the French Derby mentioned as his main target. We have not mentioned the French Guineas fifth Havana Gold for Richard Hannon who ran a stormer from a wide draw at Longchamp just running out of puff in the last few yards and is no back number here.

It as building up to be a super race and wide open despite the last six running going to a runner priced 5/1 or lower. I have not decided who of the above runners I will back at this stage but I will say my pick will be priced over 5/1!

 

Eye Catchers for the Week ending  19th May

 

First Mohican – Trainer Henry Cecil – Jockey Tom Queally

He might have only won by a neck but it looked oh so easy! Tom Queally ran into some traffic problems and gave runner up Lahaag first run. Tom never panicked pulling First Mohican to the outside and pushing him out under a hands and heels ride to get up and win. This horse was once ranked up with Frankel on his home work as a juvenile and was considered Henry Cecil’s main Derby hope in 2011 before injury forced him to miss that engagement. A rating of 100 here totally underestimated his ability and he is sure to aim much higher next time out.

Lahaag – Trainer John Gosden – Jockey Paul Hanagan

He lost little in defeat to First Mohican (see above) pulling five lengths clear of the third. Lahaag was most unfortunate to happen across such a well handicapped horse as the winner here but really appreciated the step up in trip from eight to ten furlongs. He ran off a rating of 95 and if not lumbered with more than 5 pounds by the handicapper can go well at the Royal Ascot Meeting in June.

Ghurair – Trainer  John Gosden – Jockey Paul Hanagan

 Travelled like the winner in Yorks Dante Stakes until running out of steam up the finishing climb to the line. He looks to have plenty of speed and a drop back to a mile is surely next on the cards rather than persisting with aiming him at the Derby trip of 1m4f. I can see him winning over 1m2f at the top level in time on an easier track once he matures.

 Beldale Memory – Trainer Clive Cox – Jockey Jamie Spencer

 No prize for originality here but it was hard not to be impressed by how easily she won a listed sprint at York. She was very well backed before the off and did not disappoint travelling very well and then leaving the rest of the field for dead with a nice turn of foot. Trainer Clive Cox was quoted saying “She´s a very good filly. She has a very good attitude and a lot of talent”

Willing Foe – Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor – Jockey Sylvester De Sousa

He looked an improved horse when thrashing his opposition to win a listed race over 1m5f at Newbury. His trainer confirmed that impression mentioning “He´s much better than last year and has shown class. I think two miles is his best trip and two and a half in the Gold Cup will be a new distance for him but he was relaxed today and if he´s like that he will be fine and stay the trip”. He beat Royal Diamond at York in a handicap last season and he has gone on to win the Irish Ledger and finish third in the Yorkshire Cup.

Hallelujah – Trainer James Fanshawe – Jockey Hayley Turner

She seemed to surprise connections by winning a class 2 handicap over six furlongs at Newbury. She looked like winning comfortably until tiring late and just holding on by a nose. She will improve a lot for the run as she takes a while to get fully fit! A move up in grade in the plan and I can see her winning some valuable black type later this summer. She proved here that she can handle good/firm ground which was thought unsuitable.

Cape Peron – Trainer Henry Candy – Jockey Fergus SweeneyH

 I will let Henry Candy’s post race comments do the talking “I´d like him to go up enough to get into the Britannia – it´s not often that you want them to go up! That was dramatic. You could see Fergus was oozing confidence. I thought he would win but I didn´t think he would win that far” He won a class 3 handicap here off a rating of 87.

What’s Happening – Trainer Michael Hourigan – Jockey Adrian Heskin

He jumped very well to win his beginners chase quite easily at Limerick. He is to be “kept on the go over the summer” and can win some more chases for sure but I will be very interested in him if running at the Listowel Harvest Festival next September. He won a maiden hurdle there in 2012 and his trainer loves to train a winner at Listowel.

Best of luck,

Nicky

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