2.45 Curragh – Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes (Group 3)
The last of the recognised Derby Trials in Europe, it is little surprise that Aidan O’Brien has dominated this event in recent years having won it ten times since 2002 with the Adelaide and Leading Light having got their head in front in the last two years. This year the master of Ballydoyle saddles Giovanni Canaletto who was well fancied to run well at Chester’s May meeting but had a hold up and missed that engagement.
This full-brother to Ruler Of The World and close relative of Duke Of Marmalade improved to win at the second attempt at Leopardstown in October as he drew clear to score by six and a half lengths at the line. He still holds an entry in the Derby at Epsom and given the way some of his stablemates have performed, were he to win well, he would have to head to Epsom. He looks to have strong claims but the fact that a lot of the yard’s runners have come on for their first run and he is still light on experience, I feel he may be worth opposing at a short price.
In that case, it may be best to look towards Ed Dunlop’s PRINCE GAGARIN who was far from disgraced in tough conditions at Chester on his return to action. This colt does prefer cut in the ground but the relentless rain meant the ground was probably softer than advertised and he should benefit physically from that run. He missed an intended engagement at Goodwood during the week on account of the ground and I felt he would have gone close there had he taken his chance. He looks a solid contender and could offer a bit of value should the favourite be well-supported.
3.20 Curragh – Tattersalls Gold Cup (Group 1)
Al Kazeem comes here in search of a second success in the race having turned over Camelot two years ago. He returned after an unsuccessful stint at stud last season and looked right back to his best when narrowly beaten in the Champion Stakes on his final start of the campaign. He has also continued that form this season, winning a Group 2 in France on his return to action before chasing home the formidable Cirrus Des Aigles last time. He looks likely to run well again here and I think it will take a good one to beat him.
Luca Cumani’s Postponed is one of the less exposed members of the field and improved all last season, winning the Great Voltigeur at York last August. There was a lot to like about his performance in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown last time when he found only John Gosden’s Western Hymn too good. I feel he will probably prove better over 1m4f this season but he is nevertheless an interesting runner here.
However, on the back of his run in Dubai I think THE GREY GATSBY will be able to get his head back in front. The initial reaction to that run was disappointment but he ran well to finish second to a very smart rival and should be more at home on this sort of ground. He mixed it with some of the best horses over this sort of trip last season and can continue his progression this season. He has reportedly improved for his reappearance physically and can get his head in front here.
3.55 Curragh – Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas (Group 1)
The fillies’ Classic in Ireland this weekend certainly looks a lot more competitive than the colt’s race with Aidan O’Brien’s Found likely to head the market. A Group 1 winner in the Prix Marcel Boussac as a two-year-old she was turned over on her return to action over seven furlongs at the beginning of the month. However that run came in heavy ground which wouldn’t have suited this well-bred filly and better can be expected tomorrow. However, she currently sits at around 2/1 in the market and in such an open race it might be best to look for one at a bigger price, given there have only been three winning favourites in the last decade.
The once-raced Dermot Weld filly Joailliere was mightily impressive on her debut when winning at Gowran Park in April. She is a half-sister to the smart Carla Bianca, who was a fine servant for the yard and it is interesting that her shrewd trainer has decided to pitch her straight into Group 1 company. It is impossible to weigh her maiden form against that of the more experienced fillies and although you are taking a lot on trust, it would be no surprise to see her shape well.
There are two fillies who come in here on the back of absences and although that isn’t ideal both have strong chances on their form as juveniles. Jessica Harrington’s Jack Naylor had form with some of the best fillies in Ireland last year, beating Agnes Stewart at Leopardstown in July before turning over the subsequent 1000 Guineas heroine Legatissimo here in August. She finished the season by finishing third to Found in the Prix Marcel-Boussac and although she will need to reverse that form, there should be more to come from her and Richard Hughes has been booked to ride her. I feel she is a little overpriced at 11/1 and can go close despite her absence.
Similarly of interest is Michael Halford’s Raydara who finished behind Jack Naylor last July but claimed the notable scalp of Lucida when winning the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at the Curragh in August. Her trainer has made no secret of the regard in which he holds this filly and I don’t think she will be wanting for fitness on her return to action. She remains lightly-raced and should be in the shake-up at the business end.
However it may be best to side with the favourite’s stablemate KISSED BY ANGELS who made quite an impression when getting off the mark in the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown a couple of weeks ago. She overcame her inexperience to draw clear of her rivals and win by three and a half lengths at the line. Her trainer won this with the perceived second string twelve months ago and I think she has more to offer on just her third start. Her dam was a smart performer at this level and at around 13/2 I think she could be the one to upset the favourite.