Irish Guineas Festival: Best bets for Saturday at The Curragh
Guest blogger Thom Malone reveals his best bets for the opening day of the Irish Guineas Festival, for which Betway are the new official betting partner.
The opening Irish Classics of the season will take place after a week of rain that would have had Noah wondering if one ark was enough. With that in mind, most selections will have soft ground form and race fitness on their side.
The feature race on Saturday at The Curragh, the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at 15:20, sees several of the Newmarket contenders – including the winner Poetic Flare – back in action.
Jim Bolger rarely turns down a battle and a third outing in Group 1 company in as many weeks may be beyond Poetic Flare, but possibly not his stablemate MAC SWINEY .
The New Approach colt has heavy ground form from his win in last year’s Futurity and connections have excuses for his last run when he had a dirty nose post-race. Mac Swiney was sick and still less than seven lengths behind the Derby favourite Bolshoi Ballet. In Jim we continue to trust, even if trying to second guess him comes with a financial health warning.
In the opening Tally Ho Stud Irish EBF (C & G) Maiden at 13:45, The Acropolis is attempting to be Churchill’s first winner as sire on the track. He cost £140,000 as a yearling and there is little wrong with the stable form in the past fortnight.
However, he may struggle in the going, so the selection is PINAR DEL RIO . He was very green on debut but can be expected to improve for that, when he was just touched off for second where the winner knew much more than the rest.
The Group 3 GAIN Marble Hill Stakes at 14:15 sees CASTLE STAR try to make it back-to-back wins in the Gain-sponsored series and there is little to put anyone off. Fozzy Stack appears to have a lovely bunch of juveniles by the former Aussie star and Chris Hayes is a big fan of this horse. His form is the best on offer and he will arrive race-hardened.
At 14:45 it is the turn of the sprinters in the Group 2 Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes. English raiders have a decent record in this race and GLEN SHIEL looks like enhancing that record further.
He won a Group 3 over course and distance last season and finished with a strong performance on Champions Day at Ascot. He hasn’t had a run yet this year, but Archie Watson tends to have his horses fit first time up. He is the best horse in the race with conditions in his favour, so the possible lack of race fitness should not be of too much concern.
The Group 2 Lanwades Stud Stakes follows the Guineas at 15:55 and Champers Elysses is on a retrieval mission following her disappointing seasonal debut. She will strip fitter for the run but the going is against her.
The performance of EPONA PLAYS at Naas in the Park Express was a very taking run and she could improve further, with the only slight concern the yard’s lack of a recent winner.
The Betway Spring Fillies Handicap over a mile follows at 16:25 where connections think MAAR is very much a stakes filly. If they are right, she should be absolutely thrown in here off an official mark of 85, although the ground is a concern.
Top weight DOWNFORCE has his ideal conditions in the penultimate Betway Handicap over 6f at 17:00. He’s a lovely, big, strong son of Fast Company so will have no issue with top weight and loves getting his toe in. He was well beaten in his last two starts, but a return to handicap company will suit.
In the closing race, the Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap over 7f at 17:30, LIFFEY RIVER is a full brother to Lope Y Fernandez running off a mark of 93. Should Agrimony run well in the 2000 Guineas earlier on the card, then take even closer note of this horse, who beat him in a maiden at Punchestown last autumn on soft going.
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