CURRAGH SATURDAY: Saturday’s eight-race card from the Curragh features the Irish 2000 Guineas and there’s a great supporting card alongside the first Classic of the Irish season.
⭕ A 6f maiden (1:20pm) begins proceedings. Only two of the seven runners have been seen on a racecourse. Both Unquestionable and Mr Saturday showed a high level of ability on debut, and of the pair it’s Mr Saturday that caught the eye with the way he kept on over 5f last time. Up in trip, this son of Blue Point can record a second success in this race in as many years for trainer Ger Lyons.
⭕ The Group 3 Marble Hill Stakes (1:55pm) over 6f features six highly promising colts. Five of the field won on their debut, while the final runner finished a narrow second. Both Ballydoyle runners Democracy and His Majesty look to have big futures and are favoured in that order. However, it was hard not to be taken by the performance of Noche Magica on debut, as he cruised clear of several rivals that have gone on to run well since.
⭕ Two British raiders head the market for the Group 2 Greenland Stakes (2:30pm) over 6f. Favourite Art Power has winning course and distance form but is a tough horse to catch right. Garrus won well in Group 3 company at Ascot last time, but the eye is drawn to Michael O’Callaghan’s Twilight Jet, who won impressively on his seasonal debut last year and may be best caught fresh.
⭕ In the 1m4f Listed Orby Stakes (3:05pm), it could be worth forgiving Ottilien a poor debut for Joseph O’Brien at Cork last month. She looked to be in pole position to go on and win when holding the lead 2f out, only to fade quickly approaching the final furlong. On her two-year-old form – finished third in the Group 1 Prix de Royallieu – she’s much better than that and, if stripping fitter for her reappearance, she should be hard to beat.
⭕ The feature race of the day is the Irish 2000 Guineas (3:40pm), run over a mile. Again, two British raiders head the market after excellent runs in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Hi Royal did particularly well on that occasion as he raced up with the pace throughout and only got tired in the closing stages. He still had enough to repel the challenge of Royal Scotsman to finish second and, given that was only Hi Royal’s fourth career start, he looks likely to confirm that form, with the promise of more to come. Proud And Regal may prove best of the home-trained runners.
⭕ Up next is a 7f three-year-old handicap (4:15pm), which looks likely to contain many well-treated horses on handicap debut. Aidan O’Brien runs three, and of those Canute is the most interesting. He was seen running on into third behind stablemate Farnborough over 1m2f at Cork last time. On pedigree this trip should suit this son of Quality Road, and he looks a likely improver off a lowly mark of 84 on handicap debut.
⭕ A competitive 1m2f Premier Handicap (4:50pm) sees 15 runners line up. Smooth Tom was an impressive winner over this trip at Leopardstown last time when sporting a first-time visor. That headgear remains on here and, if it once again does the trick, then a 10lb rise in the weights may not be enough to stop him going in again.
⭕ A maiden (5:25pm) over 1m2f concludes the card and this should be a good opportunity for Up And Under to get off the mark. Joseph O’Brien’s son of Lope De Vega has finished runner-up to Epsom Derby hopefuls White Birch and Sprewell on his last two starts in two Group 3. This is a far easier task and he can take advantage.