herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Niall Cronin

While both tomorrow's Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas and Sunday's Tattersalls Irish 1,000 are the two feature races of the weekend at the Curragh, the chief supporting races on each day make it a weekend not to be missed at HQ.

A field of 18 was this morning declared for Sunday's 1,000 Guineas and that looks a race that really could go the way of any one of eight or nine of the runners and really does set up the weekend nicely.

Tomorrow's clash of our leading Group One sprinters Sole Power and Gordon Lord Byron looks set create a memorable renewal of the Greenlands Stakes and it will be interesting to see the best of our juveniles winging their way up the straight over five-furlongs in the Marble Hill Stakes with Round Two, State Of Emergency and Washington DC all intriguing entries for the listed contest won last year by Cappella Sansevero and it will fascinating to see who announces themselves as a leading juvenile ahead of Royal Ascot.

After seemingly drawing a crowd to Navan last weekend with Forgotten Rules in the Vintage Crop Stakes, it is a shame that Dermot Weld won't be able to begin Free Eagle for the season in the Tattersalls Gold Cup on Sunday, but the race still has some good depth.

Al Kazeem will take on The Grey Gatsby in the six-runner field and trainer Kevin Ryan is looking forward to bringing the Irish Champion Stakes winner to the Curragh, "I think the ground is coming in his favour now and it could be good on Sunday, which would be ideal," said Ryan.

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"I wouldn't even worry about good to soft. What he doesn't want is very soft ground."

The Grey Gatsby started his campaign for 2015 in Dubai where he was second behind Solow in the Group One Dubai Turf, but stepping back up in trip is set to be a big plus for the high-class four-year-old.

"He's a very simple horse to deal with and always has been. He does exactly what you want him to do. He's great in the mornings and he's a good traveller as well.

"He seems to enjoy going away from home and he relaxes when he goes to the racecourse," his trainer explained.

"We left a bit on him going to Dubai and I spoke to the owner and we felt that we had nothing to lose going there. Dropping back in trip on a sharp track was never going to be ideal but I was happy with the run and I think the 10 days in the sun did the horse the world of good."

There are six Group races in total over the weekend at the Curragh and there will be plenty of focus surrounding the only Group Three race over the two days as Aidan O'Brien hopes to start off Giovanni Canaletto ahead of a possible trip to the Epsom Derby in just a fortnight.

O'Brien's Leopardstown maiden winner was due to start at Chester earlier in the month but a dirty scope meant he bypassed that and is now set to begin in Sunday's Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes.

O'Brien will start the weekend with a very eye-catching named filly in the opening race tomorrow as Ballydoyle, a two-year-old filly by Galileo, takes part in the opener in which the trainer runs three.

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