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Horse Racing

Matt has everything crossed that racing goes ahead at the Curragh as the stars come out to play on Irish Guineas weekend

‘BOUNCE back’ became a common phrase during lockdown – let’s hope Wembley and Battleground have read the script! 

Weather-permitting, both top-notch youngsters go to post in today’s feature Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh live on ITV4. 

They also started fancied in the Newmarket equivalent, although such was their performance that they might as well not have bothered. 

In the end, Wembley (ridden today by Ryan Moore) finished 11th behind Poetic Flare, with the late big-race gamble and 9-2 favourite Battleground (Wayne Lordan aboard) last but one.

None of that could have been predicted after their two-year-old campaigns.

In the Dewhurst, Wembley chased home St Mark’s Basilica, victorious in the French 2,000 Guineas last Sunday. Battleground was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. 

Now they have the chance to bounce back – and they will have to. 

Towards the top of the market for the Irish 2,000 is Lucky Vega, who was rallying well close home when third behind Poetic Flare twenty one days ago.

He was a tough juvenile for Jessica Harrington and proved he has the stamina for a mile. I don’t think he has brilliance, but he might not need that quality.

Poetic Flare is in his third Guineas. After Newmarket he finished sixth behind St Mark’s Basilica at Longchamp.

However, his performance was much better than the position suggests, and I suspect his Newmarket victory was no fluke.

In France, he was up with the pace but then hopelessly outpaced before rallying and finishing best of all. It suggested to me that he was simply outdone by a lack of pace in the race.

Chappers reckons Poetic Flare can win his second Guineas in a month

On that basis, I’m happy to give Poetic Flare another chance and he’s just about an each-way price.

Incidentally, on the Derby front the Irish 2,000 Guineas might be interesting, with both Mac Swiney and Van Gogh not without their supporters for the Epsom Classic.

Van Gogh, a flop when last seen, is generally 14-1 for Derby glory, while Mac Swiney is available at 20-1. They will both want to show something here to be in the mix in the greatest race of them all.

The Irish 2,000 Guineas is a right puzzle, but on paper the Irish 1,000 Guineas tomorrow should be easier to solve as I think Pretty Gorgeous will be very hard to stop provided she’s ready on her debut for Joseph O’Brien and Shane Crosse. 

The daughter of Lawman rounded off a classy two-year-old season with success in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket. She had already shown she was very good when chasing home Shale in the Moyglare Stud in September.

Of Pretty Gorgeous’s rivals, Miss Amulet was one of the fairytales of 2020 for Ken Condon, starting off with a seventh place in a maiden at Naas and ending up second in the Group 1 Cheveley Park at Newmarket and an incredible third behind Aunt Pearl in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf at Keeneland. 

Stamina would be my worry as she makes her three-year-old debut. This will be a very different test to her mile run in the US.

Joan Of Arc has been well supported and will be fancied by many for a burn up, but she was only rated 96 when hacking up in a Group 3 at Leopardstown on May 9. She has much more to do here.

Obviously Shale is a player, while it would be silly to ignore Fev Rover, even though she was 22-1 when third behind Mother Earth in the 1000 at Newmarket. The form of that race is looking solid enough.

Also on Sunday is the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup, which often proves a benefit for Aidan O’Brien.

His winners in the extended 1m2f event include Magical, So You Think and Fame And Glory.

This time the Ballydoyle genius relies on Broome, who is on a four-timer after a recent Group 2 success, former shock Derby winner Serpentine and Tiger Moth who has always promised much.

Serpentine is the mount of Lordan, and while his Epsom victory was odd it’s worth saying he wasn’t totally disgraced in two more starts in 2020 at Longchamp and Ascot when fourth behind the talented Addeybb.

One potent rival will be Cayenne Pepper, who goes for Jessica Harrington. She’s a super tough filly and was a decent Group 2 winner at the Curragh last term before ending up 10th adrift of Audarya in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

It’s a Classic weekend. But ability to cope with a mudfest will be as key as natural talent.

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