At The Races expert Declan Rix previews Saturday’s Irish 2000 Guineas, with a lively outsider his selection to challenge favourite Native Trail at The Curragh.
Trainer: G M Lyons Jockey: Colin Keane
Unbeaten in two starts as a juvenile last year, beating the current Derby second-favourite Stone Age in the latter of those efforts.
A somewhat disappointing comeback 13 days ago at Leopardstown, but that was his first run of the campaign and also had little room to run in a key part of the race.
Entitled to step forward for that, but he’ll need to, and it remains to be seen if a mile is his trip at this level; he may be happiest over 10 furlongs in time.
T: Joseph O’Brien J: Shane Crosse
Progressed with each run as a juvenile last season and started this campaign with an excellent and slightly unlucky second to Piz Badile in the Ballysax Stakes.
He wasn’t in a good tactical position given the early sedate gallop and was widest of all turning into the straight, but he picked up and quickened well, only to be touched off close home.
Dropped back to a mile with no issues last time out winning the Listed Tetrarch Stakes, but that wasn’t much of a race in the context of this Group One.
Interesting he was still in the Derby picture before being declared here which may suggest he’s not a natural miler at this level.
Duke De Sessa
T: Dermot Weld J: Chris Hayes
Broke his maiden here over a mile on soft ground in impressive style last season as a two-year-old before finding the drop in trip and the step up in class too much in the Group One National Stakes behind Native Trail.
Enjoyed nine furlongs better when winning the Eyrefield Stakes on his last start as a juvenile and started 2022 brightly, running third in the Ballysax under a penalty.
However, he disappointed with his finishing effort last time out having travelled strongly over 10 furlongs, and maybe, just maybe he’ll be happiest over a mile on soft ground this year. Rain a big plus.
T: Andrew Balding J: Ben Coen
Made a superb start to his career when bolting up in a soft-ground Goodwood maiden as a juvenile. On his next start, despite being beaten by Royal Patronage in the Acomb Stakes, he impressed with how he adapted to the step up in class and quicker ground.
An excellent second to 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus in Autumn Stakes and a solid fifth to Luxembourg in the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes followed before he started his three-year-old campaign with an unlucky third on the all-weather in the Listed Burradon Stakes at Newcastle.
Given his solid juvenile form and satisfactory 2022 comeback, he looks an excessively big price for a natural-looking miler who won’t mind any rain.
T: Aidan O’Brien J: Ryan Moore
Unraced as a juvenile, but in four quick starts this season has been making up for lost time and now officially rated 107. Is a fine, big son of Galileo who should continue to improve, especially as there has been signs of inexperience in all his runs.
Comes here on the back of a sound second against older horses in the Group 3 Amethyst Stakes where the race fell much kinder for the winner.
He was also given a strange ride early in the straight, looking like he could finish closer to last before running on well.
Now sports a first-time tongue-tie and a market watch is advised about a progressive sort from a top yard.
T: Michael O’Callaghan J: Leigh Roche
A 420,000 Guineas purchase from Tattersalls Book 1 as a yearling, but failed to make the track as a two-year-old despite being a son of Kodiac.
Got to a good level in two races this season, but was put in his place by Buckaroo last time out and needs the first-time blinkers to work a miracle.
T: Charlie Appleby J: William Buick
The 2021 Champion Juvenile who won two Group One races at two, the National Stakes here at the Curragh and the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
Started this season well, winning the Craven Stakes satisfactorily at 1/4 before being beaten in the 2000 Guineas as a 5/4 favourite.
Going Stick readings and previous races on the day suggest he was on the wrong side of the track in the 2000 Guineas.
A return to a flatter course here will be a big plus, given he rolled around and lugged right under pressure. Undoubtedly the horse to beat, but 4/11 looks mightily short – I’m not sure he has that much in hand.
T: Ms Sheila Lavery J: Billy Lee
Impressed when making all to win here on debut last season before a couple of sound efforts at Leopardstown.
Returned to the Curragh last time out where he showed excellent pace throughout, still travelling well passing two out, but was eventually well-beaten by Buckaroo.
Bred to stay a mile easily, but small suspicions he might be better over seven furlongs, and in any case, his form needs to improve significantly.
T: Jim Bolger J: Kevin Manning
Plenty to like about his two starts this season having failed to make the track as a two-year-old. On debut at Navan, he caught the eye physically and also how well he saw out his race, despite having been fresh and gassy early.
In the Tetrarch last time out, he improved again and clearly sharpened up nicely for his debut, travelling strongly in what was a tactical race.
Gives the impression that he will really thrive off an end-to-end gallop and would likely need that, or a positive ride, to hit the frame.
No doubt Native Trail is the horse to beat, but odds of 4/11 look skinny and his draw in stall one means William Buick might have to light him up early to get a good position. With potentially no pace on offer, it wouldn’t surprise to see him travel too well, and if that scenario plays out, I wouldn’t like to be on at 4/11.
Buckaroo (9/2) is most likely to chase him home, but he has a habit of being slowly away and it remains to be seen if he is a miler at this level. Ivy League (14/1) is progressing, but maybe still through greenness, steps up in class and has been busy meaning IMPERIAL FIGHTER looks a really good each-way bet.
It’s rare you see a horse’s price so badly wrong in a Group One, (the place part of the bet offers excellent value), but his juvenile efforts see him with the third strongest form on offer in my mind, and while beaten on 2022 debut, it’s far too soon to be writing him off.
Furthermore, he looks a more natural miler to many in here and won’t have any issues with further rain. His draw in stall nine could’ve been kinder, but he’ll at least get cover from the forecast wind. If Ben Coen can switch him off early and he comes here in good form, he is no backmarker.