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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh

AIDAN O'Brien's stranglehold on the Irish 2,000 Guineas (3.20 Curragh) was broken by Richard Hannon's Canford Cliffs in 2010, but it's been business as usual since for Ballydoyle who have now won five of the last six renewals. While quite a few raiders have landed the prize over the years, O'Brien's namesake Vincent O’Brien is the only other Irish-based trainer to win in the last 25 years (Prince Of Birds in 1988). In fairness, Aidan O'Brien does throw a number of darts at the board every year and he's responsible for 36pc of the field this afternoon with his team of five runners headed by War Command, which was ninth in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The red-hot favourite, of course, is John Gosden's Kingman, which was narrowly beaten by 40/1 outsider Night Of Thunder in the English Classic and at the time of writing, the best you can get about the Invincible Spirit colt is 8/11. Just like at Newmarket, I'm finding it hard to say anything negative about Kingman other than his price. Odds of 4/5 suggest he has a 58pc chance of winning but purely based on ratings, he's only 1lb superior to War Command and I suspect that this may be a bit more competitive than the market suggests. It would be harsh to describe War Command's Newmarket display as a total flop and once it became clear that he wasn't firing on all cylinders, Ryan Moore didn't punish him. His first run of the year was more lazy than anything else, but he looks the type to come on for the run. Indeed, Aidan O'Brien's Power came second-last in the Newmarket Guineas before winning the Irish version in 2012 and Roderic O'Connor travelled a very similar path a year before. At the prices then, it makes sense to swerve Kingman and back War Command each-way at 7/1, despite some concerns about the softer ground. Dermot Weld hasn't won this race since he sent Flash Of Steel in 1986 but his sole entry, Mustajeeb, also has claims at 6/1. He likes a bit of cut in the ground and despite the fact that he was getting weight all round, there was plenty to like about his victory over some older horses including Brendan Brackan in a Group Three at Leopardstown last time.
Across the water at Haydock, Kevin Ryan's Hot Streak (9/4) is tipped to reverse the Palace House form with Sole Power in the Group Two Temple Stakes (2.40). While the ground was described as firm yesterday, rain was expected overnight and soft ground would put Sole Power's participation in doubt. His trainer, Eddie Lynam, said he'll leave it as late as possible to make a decision as he wants to keep the horse in shape for the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. On the flip side, the owners of Hot Streak and Pearl Secret would like some give in the ground and they'll also consider withdrawing their horses if they are not happy with the going. Hot Streak, to be ridden by the highly regarded Oisin Murphy, showed plenty of promise as a two-year-old and shaped well on his return to racing when third under a 3lb penalty in the Palace House Stakes earlier this month.

SHOT In The Sun steps back up to a mile for the Betfred Mobile Casino Silver Bowl Handicap Stakes (3.45 Haydock), having finished runner-up over seven furlongs in a handicap at York last time. The Richard Fahey trained filly has only finished outside the top two once in her latest eight races but would still appear to have room for manoeuvre off a mark of 84 today. At 8/1, she can be backed each-way. 

SOCCER: CRISTIANO Ronaldo missed a couple of Real Madrid matches due to a thigh problem but he’s back for tonight’s Champion’s League final against Atletico Madrid and his presence can make all the difference. Credit goes to Atletico who have reached the European Cup final for the first time since 1974 but they’ve a poor record against their La Liga rivals, who have been in cracking form in Europe this term. Real can just about shade it this evening at 21/20.
HORSE RACING: PRICED in the region of 4/11, no-one will get rich backing Sitting Pritty but Tom Dascombe's filly is impossible to oppose in the maiden at Haydock (5.45) and is sure to be included as the banker in plenty of accumulators up and down the country today. She's rated 19lbs clear of her nearest rival in the betting Goadby, and jockey Stephen Craine should steer her home without breaking a sweat this afternoon. 

Today's selections
2.20 Goodwood: Gatewood
2.40 Haydock: Hot Streak
3.20 Curragh: War Command (e/w)
3.45 Haydock: Shot In The Sun (e/w)
5.45 Catterick: Sitting Pritty

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