The Guineas Weekend at The Curragh by Hector Steiff
This weekend sees the third leg of the Triple Crown of the Guineas races for three year old colts and fillies in their classic season. The Irish have held the upper hand in the first two legs of the Guineas at Newmarket and ParisLongchamp with success for Poetic Flare and Mother Earth taking the 2,000 Guineas & 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, before St Mark’s Basilica scored in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains – the French 2,000 Guineas.
So far, only the French 1,000 Guineas, the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, has gone to a horse trained outside of Ireland, and the third leg of the Triple Crown is held at The Curragh to give the Irish home advantage this weekend.
Poetic Flare will once again meet Jessica Harrington’s Lucky Vega in Saturday’s showpiece. Lucky Vega chased down Poetic Flare at Newmarket in the 2,000 Guineas only to lose out by just a neck and the pair lock horns again before a potential clash at Royal Ascot in either the St James’s Palace Stakes or the Commonwealth Cup.
With a low front bringing plenty of rain to the County Kildare course on The Curragh, a morning inspection has been called due to waterlogging on parts of the track. At best, the going will be heavy on the Straight Course and soft to heavy on the Round and that will be a new experience for some of these. Lucky Vega has not raced on anything worse than good ground but Poetic Flare has form on soft so could preferred on that marker.
Aidan O’Brien, who has already scored in two of the four Guineas races already run with Mother Earth and St Mark’s Basilica is triple handed with Wembley, Van Gogh and Battleground. Wembley is the choice or Ryan Moore and has form on soft but hit the bar in all three starts here as a juvenile, while Van Gogh has both form on soft and winning form around here. Impeccably bred by American Pharoah, Van Gogh won the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-cloud in the mud so looks a more solid choice for these conditions. Battleground saw all but one of the field in front of him in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket so has something to prove on Saturday.
Kevin Prendergast should hope for a big run from Monaasib who was third to Poetic Flare in the “Red Rocks” Guineas Trial at Leopardstown last month and has winning form on The Curragh as well as form on soft. Chris Hayes returns to the saddle and Monassib may well come on for that last outing so they warrant a mention here.
The English raiders are Charlie Apppleby’s La Barrosa and Hugo Palmer’s The Rosstafarian who both hold each way claims. La Barrosa didn’t seem to take to the heavy ground at Salisbury last October so earns a negative point in the final appraisal for that but there is no doubting the stable form at present. The Rosstafarian can be taken at a big price in the ante post market but does have plenty to find on the principals running from an official rating of 97.
Poetic Flare got no kind of run at the leaders in the French 2,000 Guineas, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains but was still travelling the best through the line so gets the vote here. Trainer Jim Bolger felt he couldn’t get a grip on the surface at ParisLongchamp but Poetic Flare is sure to improve back on home soil and can make it a Guineas double on Saturday. Aidan O’Brien’s Van Gogh looks the best of the rest with Lucky Vega an unknown quantity on this deep ground.
Sunday is the turn of the fillies and of course the stand out horse from her juvenile season has to be Pretty Gorgeous from Joseph Patrick O’Brien’s Owning Hill yard in County Kilkenny. A late withdrawal from the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket after a dirty scope, Joseph Patrick O’Brien will be hoping for Guineas success as a trainer having won the 2,000 Guineas on both sides of the Irish Sea as a jockey.
Pretty Gorgeous should be ready to race and heads the ante post market, perhaps rightly so after a top class juvenile campaign where she was never out of the top two in five starts. With her victory in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket on soft going in the form book, the unexpected rain at The Curragh should not be a worry – with both stablemate Mother Earth and Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain behind her that last day she has some franked form for this season to back up her claims.
However, this is a classic and these fillies sit at the front desks in the classroom. There is, therefore, plenty of depth in this race. Aidan O’Brien’s Joan Of Arc was given as the winner for the Leopardstown Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial on our website last time out and was a comfortable winner there. She has form on soft ground and has won here before so has to enter calculations as does Richard Fahey’s English raider, Fev Rover, whose troubled run in the Prix Marcel Boussac at ParisLongchamp last October belied her ability on ground with plenty of dig in it.
Ken Condon’s highly tried Miss Amulet will also figure in the betting for this final Guineas race of 2021 but she is unraced for six months and has never been on ground this deep. By Sir Prancealot whose best trip was at 5f – 6f on good ground it is hard to make a convincing case for Miss Amulet on Sunday over this mile trip.
In the final analysis, Fev Rover gets the chance to cause an upset from across the Irish Sea. Despite the dominance of the home team in the first two legs of the Guineas Triple Crown, having taken three of the four races so far, Fev Rover should cope best with these testing conditions with Joan Of Arc and Pretty Gorgeous to battle it out for the minor honours.
This preview has been brought to you by our regular correspondent, Hector Steiff