If Saturday was a day’s racing to make you salivate then Sunday isn’t far behind, with the Curragh serving up a treat on Oaks day, plus the ever informative Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary, as well as a pair of valuable Group races at Maisons-Laffitte.
Proper winter ground lies in store for those braving the Curragh, and though they aren’t big fields the quality on display more than compensates, with four races live on RTE1 kicking off shortly after 2pm.
Needless to say there’ll be a few getting stuck in the mud, and later in the afternoon I think we might have unearthed a big priced candidate who’ll thrive in the conditions to put the wind up an odds on favourite, but more of that once we’ve touched on the Group 3 Kilboy Estate Stakes over nine furlongs at 2.10pm.
Just seven filles and mares are set to go to post, but Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo filly Up is an obvious starting point given that she’s top rated on 111, plus is the choice of stable number jockey, O’Brien’s son Joseph.
What’s interesting about her is her placed form, in that she got to within a length of the winner in the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial (her stablemate Homecoming Queen who went on to win the Guineas), plus she got to within a length of the winner when second in the French Guineas.
On the downside her strike-rate is poor – just one win from eight outings, and when facing the older horses for the first time she finished last of four, albeit in Group 1 company in the Pretty Polly three weeks ago.
That was the only time to date she has run on ground involving the word ‘Heavy’ in the going description, though it was a curious run in that although she was never dangerous she was keeping on well under pressure, although she was getting lumps of weight (11lbs) from the others.
None of that strikes me as a reason to back her in this company, especially as Dermot Weld’s Selkirk filly Caponata looks ready to add to her unbeaten record on ground she’ll love.
She won her maiden in the style of filly going places on testing ground at Gowran Park, and then stepped up to win a listed race at Naas.
Yes this is a jump in class, but not enormous, especially when you consider she’s got a pair of Group 1 entries in the bank later on during the summer (Yorkshire Oaks & Matron Stakes) hinting at what might be to come.
She beat the re-opposing Shebella comfortably last time out, and David Wachman’s Soft ground specialist Tannery might be the one to give her most to do.
The price isn’t extravagant, but Caponata can get us off to a solid start at 11/8 with any of Betfred, Paddy Power or Totesport.
At 2.45pm we get another look at Aidan O’Brien’s Coventry Stakes third Cristoforo Colombo in the six runner Group 3 Anglesey Stakes over six furlongs, and the betting suggests he’s a certainty – with Paddy Power offering just 4/9 at the time of writing.
Is he a bet at the price?
He isn’t rated 110 by mistake, but he’s a shocking odds on shot for the money buyers if you attribute even 20% of his course and distance defeat in the Railway Stakes last time out to the ground.
If anything it’s likely to be even more testing this time, plus he isn’t running against rubbish.
Yes it’s possible his class will carry him through, but at a tempting 8/1 I’m very keen to take a risk with a once-raced unbeaten dark horse from the local stable of Paddy Prendergast.
A son of 2005 Epsom Derby winner Motivator (who lest we forget won both the Racing Post Trophy and the Dante on Soft ground) his Down Royal winner Smoker looked the part and then some when scoring on debut on horrible ground, and though this is a raise in class he too has some fancy entries down the line, and when the muck’s flying here he’ll be relishing the battle.
Perhaps he didn’t beat much on his only run to date, but he did win by the best part of five lengths and the third that day has franked the form by winning since then, and with the ground far more suitable for Smoker than Cristoforo Colombo, surely it seems reasonable to throw a few quid at him each way when his more celebrated rival is so short in the market.
Even if Cristoforo Colombo does win it’s still 2/1 a place for Smoker to finish second, and with that in mind I’m happy to have slice of the 8/1 available each way with either Boylesports or Paddy Power.
Anticipation will be at fever pitch as the field of seven make their way to post for the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks shortly before 3.20pm, but it might not take too much solving in that none of the last eight winners of this contest returned bigger than 9/2, and I’m not sure that’s going to change in a rush…
There are a few formlines to work with too – Was beat Shirocco Star in the Oaks, Princess Highway beat Was at Naas in the Blue Wind Stakes, Princess Highway beat Shirocco Star in the Ribblesdale.
However, they may all be playing for places as John Gosden sends over his King George second Nathaniel’s sister Great Heavens to take advantage of her favoured testing ground, on what will be her first start in Ireland.
She only ran a fortnight ago when taking the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock Park, but that was a display of such authority her connections have readily stumped up the cash to supplement her for this, and she can extend her unbeaten run during 2012 to four.
There has to be a small risk that this will come too soon for her, but with the admirable Princess Highway having met with a minor training interruption earlier in the week, and Dermot Weld openly questioning whether she’ll cope with the ground, you’d have to favour Great Heavens on this surface, while the supplementary entry is a tip in itself.
Her Haydock win was a blitzkrieg performance from the front, and it my be that she can once again dominate with the opposition struggling to plough through the mud. She strikes me as having even more to give than has been shown to date, and on this ground that could be curtains for the rest.
Great Heavens appears the most likely winner of the Irish Oaks, and is a 7/4 shot with any of Bet365, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power or Stan James.
Sunday’s best bets at the Curragh:
2.10 – Kilboy Estate Stakes – 2 Caponata (win) @ 11/8 (Betfred or Paddy Power)
2.45 – Jebel Ali Stables & Racecourse Anglesey Stakes – 6 Smoker (each way) @ 8/1 (Boylesports or Paddy Power)
3.20 – Darley Irish Oaks – 3 Great Heavens (win) @ 7/4 (Ladbrokes, Paddy Power or Stan James)
Posted 5 years ago