This is Irish Guineas weekend and the Curragh will come alive on Saturday at 9:45 a.m. (Jamaica Time) for the 2000 Guineas and Sunday at 10:15 a.m. (Jamaica Time) for the 1000 Guineas.
As usual Aidan O’Brien holds a strong hand in both races with 6 runners in Saturday’s 13 runner 2000 Guineas and 5 of Sunday’s 19 in the 1000. In the 2000 his first string is Steinbeck (Johnny Murtagh up) who was 4th in the Dewhurst in a blanket finish impressing very much as the best of O’Brien’s for the future as it was only his second ever race and he wasn’t fully fit. He’s reportedly coming on well at exercise but this will be his first run of the year; only his third lifetime run; and every single Ballydoyle runner so far this year has needed its reappearance. Steinbeck’s the joint 3/1 favourite at the moment and is just too short a price to be backed in such an important race without a run under his belt.
The joint favourite is Canford Cliffs my selection for the English 2000 Guineas who ended up 3rd in that race at 12/1. He was held up in a slowly run race and hence disadvantaged; running very keenly early and although making a sharp move towards the leaders 2 furlongs out, he hung right and flattened out somewhat inside the final furlong giving his detractors more fuel for their persistent argument that he doesn’t stay a mile. His trainer is adamant that he stays a mile quite well and the Curragh mile is much easier than Newmarket’s stiff Rowley Mile. Furthermore, with the O’Brien relay at work, this race is sure to produce the fast early pace he didn’t get at Newmarket and so he won’t be using up too much energy pulling early as he’ll be able to settle in behind the leaders much more easily. He has worked very well since and Trainer Richard Hannon is quoted as saying:
“Canford Cliffs worked brilliantly for Hughesie [jockey, Richard Hughes] on Wednesday morning. It was the best gallop that he has produced this season and Richard got off and said that he was finally getting the same sort of feel that the horse gave him before Royal Ascot last year.
“Before Newbury, Canford Cliffs’s morning exercise was satisfactory but no more than that. That trial [the Greenham Stakes] seemed to snap him into action and we were much happier with him going to Newmarket.
“I thought he was sure to win going into the Dip, but he hesitated on the ridgy part of the course and people don’t realise how many horses get found out by the undulations of Newmarket.
“Canford Cliffs will be much more at home at the Curragh and after two disappointments it would be great if we could get him back on track and prove to everybody that he really is a superstar.”
Watch out!! CANFORD CLIFFS will prove very, very hard to beat and I can’t see him finishing worse than second.
But, again, at 3/1 (when I was on at Newmarket at 12/1; got 3/1 to place) is just too miserly for me and so I’ll be opposing him on Saturday with the Tommy Stack trained NOLL WALLOP who fits the profile of a lightly raced improving sort who can spring a surprise. He has only 3 races under his belt making his debut in September when he was 2l 4th of 14 to Chabal before winning a 21 runner maiden race at the Curragh over a mile on soft ground that he seemed not to relish. He was put away until the spring but the ground was still soft when he won again at Leopardstown over a mile, this time at Group 3 level beating Aidan O’Brien’s Viscount Nelson (11th at Newmarket; entered for this with first time blinkers) by 3 ½ lengths.
Finally, the ground (expected to be good to firm) has come right for NOLL WALLOP and I’m expecting him to wallop this field at double digit odds.
The Favourite for Sunday’s 1000 Guineas is Music Show who was 6th in the English version at Newmarket but was victimized by the draw that day and ran on the ‘wrong” side of the track. In all the circumstances, she ran a cracker and is confidently expected to turn the tables on those who finished in front of her that day including second favouriteGile Na Greine, trained by Jim Bolger, who may find a mile a bit short these days as well. But both can fall victim to another Tommy Stack improver LOLLY FOR DOLLY, a lovely filly by Oratorio (a young stallion who sired the first two in last year’s Dewhurst), who didn’t run as a 2yo and is unbeaten as a 3yo after only 2 races. She won a Group 3 at the Curragh over 7f on last by 2l from Famous (one of O’Brien’s 5 for the 1000) going away at the finish in the style of a good filly. She’s an exciting prospect; has been supplemented for this and has a chance second to none.

Of the O’Brien lot, Johnny Murtagh has selected Lillie Langtry winner of the Tattersalls’ Timeform Fillies 800 as a 2yo but who always looked a cut below dual Guineas winner Special Duty and who is another Ballydoyle inmate making her seasonal reappearance after flopping in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies in November. A nice outsider to watch from the Ballydoyle camp is Remember When, the mount of Conor O’Donoghue, who is a maiden after two runs on either side of the winter break but who impresses as one to show plenty improvement very soon. She improved on her debut (nk second to Karasiyra in a 7f fillies maiden at Leopardstown in heavy going) when she ran 3 1/2l 3rd of 9 in a Gowran fillies listed race in May (Karasiyra 5l behind her in 4th) and, by Danehill Dancer out of a Diesis mare, she is bred to win a 1000 Guineas somewhere – perfect breeding for a miler. She’s currently at 20/1 so is a nice each way flutter.
But, for me, it’s a Guineas Double for Trainer Tommy Stack.
NOLL WALLOP (2000 Guineas) LOLLY FOR DOLLY (1000 Guineas)
Good Luck!



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