In his first weekly Betway blog, Irish racing broadcaster Gary O'Brien previews Saturday and Sunday at the Irish Guineas Festival.
I’m delighted to be writing a weekly blog for the Betway Insider, giving my thoughts on the best of the racing in Ireland. My first column is for the second and third days of the Irish Guineas festival and there are some grand races to look at.
The Tattersalls Gold Cup looks much better than last year. Helvic Dream needed every yard of the trip to win the race 12 months ago and I think he’ll go well again. He ran okay on his first start of the year, and he’ll definitely appreciate the give in the ground.
In my mind, though, the one they all have to beat is the globetrotting STATE OF REST . He’s been placed brilliantly by his connections to be picking up races all around the world. I was impressed with him in the Prix Ganay, and although this race has some good challengers from overseas, including Alenquer for William Haggas, State Of Rest has top level form that should make him tough to beat.
The Lanwades Stud Stakes looks a weak Group 2 and I’m keen on PEARLS GALORE , who is by far the most likely winner in my eyes. She was highly campaigned last season and got her season off to a good start when winning in good style at Leopardstown last time. Twilight Spinner, who I think could improve again for going over a mile, could give her the most to think about. But, ultimately, Pearls Galore should just be too good.
Since she was third at Newmarket in the English 1000 Guineas, I’ve been pretty keen on TUESDAY for this race, the Irish 1000 Guineas. She’s done nothing wrong and her run last time was clearly a career best, especially as it was just on her third start. She is, however, getting shorter in the betting and while she’s the likeliest winner, there might be a couple of bigger priced horses who can run well, too.
Hermana Estrella won at 50/1 on her debut, but that was in a Group 3, which tells you how much ability she must have. The fact she even started her career in that type of contest is one thing, but to go on and win it shows just how good she must be.
Henry de Bromhead is better known for winners at Punchestown as opposed to the Curragh, but he’s got a very nice horse in Star Girls Aalmal, who is improving rapidly and is bidding for a hat-trick. This is a massive step up in class, though.
There will also be plenty of interest in Purplepay, who is having her first run for William Haggas, having moved over to his yard from France, where she spent her juvenile days in the care of Cedric Rossi. She cost her new owners a massive €2m so they’ll want to see a return on that investment at some point.
I’m really looking forward to seeing DARK VEGA run again as she turns out in the Fillies Handicap. She won a maiden at a big price last year, where she looked like she was the stable’s second string.
She was fifth on her comeback run this year. On the face of it, that might have looked disappointing, but I was actually happy with that performance. She didn’t get the clearest of runs and is still learning her trade. She’s got an Irish Oaks entry and if she’s going to be running in that, she’s got to be winning off this mark of 87.
It’s only a small field in the Marble Hill and it does look a tight contest, with TOUGH TALK being the horse to beat. The maiden he won looks very strong with the form already working out well.
I have to say, though, I was very taken by the debut run of Mehmar, who ran well behind The Antarctic last week. The fact they’re running him in this grade so soon after that debut run would tell you he’s well thought of, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he went very close.
Ado McGuinness’s A Case Of You is the one to beat in the Greenlands, but there is a strong challenge from overseas that includes Brad The Brief and previous Group 1 winner, Glen Shiel.
MOONEISTA is the horse I’d side with, though. There’s not a great deal between her, A Case Of You or Power Under Me and I think Jack Davison’s filly was slightly unlucky last time. She also gets 6lb off the favourite and that’ll help her for sure.
The feature race is, of course, the Irish 2000 Guineas, and what a race this is going to be. Obviously, NATIVE TRAIL is going to be very hard to beat and brings solid Group 1 form into the race. He wasn’t beaten far by his stablemate Coroebus in the English 2000 Guineas, and that form is the best on offer.
Buckaroo was impressive when dropped back to a mile last time and will give him most to think about. He’s got the natural ability to make a race of it and whatever happens here, I think he’s an exciting horse for the rest of the season.
I’d say outside of those two, it’s much of a muchness in terms of those fighting for a place, but I have to give a shout out to New Energy, who at the time of writing is the outsider of the field, but I think he could run much better than his price would suggest.
JASON THE MILITANT is better known for his exploits over hurdles for Henry de Bromhead, but he’s actually two from two on the level and if the ground comes right for him, I think he’ll have a big say in the Orby Stakes.
No doubt one of the biggest betting handicaps of the weekend is going to be the 1m2f Premier Handicap and I’ve narrowed it down to two. Golden Twilight was a solid fifth on his comeback run at Cork and has been dropped 1lb for that.
MORACANA is on hat-trick for Sheila Lavery, and his win last time told me there is still more to come. A one-two would be nice, wouldn’t it?
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