Irish Champions Weekend at The Curragh – Sunday

Moyglare ‘Jewels’ Blandford Stakes (Fillies’ Group 2) (Class 1) (3YO plus) (2.35): It’s very exciting to see Seventh Heaven back, but it would be a huge surprise if 10 furlongs on yielding ground after a long absence brought out the best in her and she looks a watching brief with a view to a potential target on Champions Day, preferably over 1m4f. Rain Goddess is favourite with Ryan Moore on board but she’s had a long season and one wonders when so much racing will catch up with her and Sea Of Grace makes much more appeal. The Pouliches second was a fair fourth in the Falmouth but prefers to have a bit of cut there and she warmed up for this very nicely when she took an easy opportunity at Haydock with ease.

The biggest danger may well be Shamreen, who was a game winner of this race last year and really impressed when taking the Royal Whip in easy style over course and distance. This is tougher than the renewal she took last year, but she ought to take plenty of beating here.

Smart Call has run well in three of her four starts this season so it is a tad disconcerting that the most lacklustre effort came here in the Pretty Polly; Beautiful Morning was having her first run in a while when not far behind Rain Goddess on her recent comeback and could outrun her price after stripping a lot fitter.

Alluringly hasn’t quite repeated her efforts in the Cheshire and Coronation Oaks since and could be a little exposed now despite taking the Hurry Harriet Stakes in good style last time out. Santa Monica and Rostenal could be outclassed here.

Advice: 1 pt win Sea of Grace (7/2 general) 

Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (Group 2) (3yo+) (3.05): All eyes on Caravaggio as he bids to get back on track but he doesn’t make much appeal as favourite. At his best Aidan O’Brien’s colt should take the beating here, but he has hit top gear in the final furlong of his best wins, including the Coventry and Commonwealth Cup, and whilst one can forgive his two defeats at Newmarket and Deauville, he appears to be a watching brief here even if being back on a softer surface proves to be ideal for him.

Cotai Glory was a fine third in the Nunthorpe and should be upto going well once again but he has had a consistent profile for a long while since winning the World Trophy Stakes at Newbury nearly a year ago. Caspian Prince would make the most appeal of the field from a betting point of view but all his best form has come on a sound surface this year and Son Of Rest was beaten in Listed company behind two horses mentioned below after taking a good handicap for three year olds over this course and distance on soft ground. The surface will be right up his street. Tis Marvellous hasn’t progressed from his Prix Robert Papin win last year. Two that catch the eye are Gorane and last year’s winner Ardhoomey, who were first and third in the Abergwaun Stakes at Tipperary last time.

Both of them has pretty poor starts but Gorane managed to get himself towards the lead early and was able to stay there, showing a game attitude to hold off all comers. Ardhoomey, who had been hooded before, was bumped badly after the start and ended up having to sit in the rear, travelling best of all but needing to come wide, and running out of time to get up.

Ardhoomey may have gotten there with a better run and whilst the market does take note of that, Ger Lyons’ consistency sprinter handles all ground, was a winner of this last year on yielding ground and looks like he can go well at 14/1. Take him each/way with little making appeal amongst the rest of the field.

Advice: 1 pt each/way Ardhoomey (12/1 Betfred, Tote, Boylesports)  

Moyglare Stud Stakes (Group 1) (Fillies) (2yo) (3.40): The race of the weekend and one of the races of the season so far. The ground will play a big role in the outcome here too so the weather will be worth watching. Four of these met in the Debutante Stakes where Magical led from start to finish in a very impressive performance that saw her hold off Happily and September in order. She never looked in danger of being reeled and showed an impressive turn of foot to put the race to bed quickly, and her status as favourite looks to be deserved on that basis.

Happily ran well to be second there, but appeared to be very blunted the soft ground that day and it’s not hard to imagine her coming right back to her best when hitting a firmer surface; The ground is not yet soft at the time of writing but is likely to be riding slowly. September previously so impressive when winning the Chesham, did not travel anywhere near as impressively and was one of the first in trouble before being a well beaten fourth, a disappointing run considering that she had gone off a short priced favourite thanks to a lot of money on the day. The form of her Leopardstown and Chesham wins has only looked more impressive with each win since and it’s interesting to note that Aidan O’Brien suggested improvement should have been forthcoming for that effort, having come a full two months after Ascot.

A daughter of the great Peeping Fawn, who was a dual Group 1 winner on testing ground, this surface ought not to be a problem and she could be worth trusting again to bounce back.

Ryan Moore has taken a fascinating decision to keep with Clemmie, who was an impressive winner of the Princess Margaret Stakes to make it a Group 3 double since her seventh at Royal Ascot. Moore chose her that day as well despite the fact she was a maiden then and it is clear that she has improved a great deal since. The one question mark for her may be the ground here, as she has always moved extremely well over fast ground, but she has to be respected hugely here.

Alpha Centauri was hotly fancied for the Albany after impressive wins in a maiden and then a fillies sprint stakes before coming a close second in the Albany on by far the quickest ground she had encountered.

So too, do the maiden winners Muirin and Chiara Luna. The first named of them, Muirin, was a 16/1 shot on her debut here but showed an impressive amount of ability first time out to beat the much more experienced Sizzling after blowing the start and then being on the back foot. She showed a sweet turn of foot there and should naturally be sharper.

Chaira Luna’s debut win was no surprise – she went off a 4/5 shot – and she travelled beautifully through her Leopardstown debut before knuckling down well to get the better of Modern Love. The form of that race has been tested just once since with the third going onto fill the runners up spot when next seen. Active Approach’s two third place efforts read well but she and Gasta must improve if Jim Bolger is to be celebrating.

Advice: 1 pt each/way September (7/1 general)

Ante-Post: 1 pt each/way September, 2018 Oaks (16/1 general)

Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Group 1) (Entire Colts & Fillies) (2yo) (4.15): It was hard not to be impressed with the way that Gustav Klimt took the Superlative Stakes despite being carried right through the last three furlongs and he should take high rank through the season but he appears to be rather short her and this is certainly no gimme at what has quickly become a very short price with Expert Eye a non-runner.

Beckford found the 6 furlongs of the Phoenix too fast for him but he’s long been ready for a step up to this seventh furlong and he appears to have been ignored in the market here. So too, has Verbal Dexterity, who was a deeply impressive winner of his maiden here over course and distance on soft ground by nearly 10 lengths before trying to make all the running in the Railway Stakes. This step back up in trip and the presence of other pacemakers ought to be of a great benefit for his chances and Brother Bear was an impressive winner of his maiden and the Marble Hill but he harmed his chances significantly by drifting left in the Coventry and the Anglesey Stakes and he now not only needs to prove he can go straight but also needs to improve a little bit.

Rostropovich bounced back from an odds-on reverse in a conditions event when battling well to beat stablemate Coat of Arms in the Futurity Stakes. He did well to grab the winner at the line and will be fine with any ground, whilst a well-run race in a bigger field ought to suit, so he is of interest at 25/1. Berkeley Square was third behind him there and might be used as a pacemaker.

Lethal Steps was well beaten by the very promising Ballet Shoes last time and remains a decent horse in his own right.

Advice: 1 pt each/way Verbal Dexterity (7/1 Betfair)

Comer Group International Irish St. Leger (Group 1) (3yo+) (4.50): The withdrawal of Big Orange thanks to the ground has left this at the supposed mercy of Order Of St George but at 4/9 he is no betting option; he was beaten at 1/7 in this very contest last year.

Dartmouth can run well for the Queen and might be the best each/way option. Ground with ease is no problem for the Queen’s Charge who was denied by a nose in the Lonsdale Cup last time, having been fourth in the Hardwicke Stakes before, and this season he had already taken the Yorkshire Cup too. Sir Michael Stoute’s five-year-old is making into a useful stayer and this looks to be his trip.

Torcedor was a fair fifth In the Gold Cup when the fast ground and trip might not have suited there and before he’d gotten the better of Order of St George when he was fitter and perhaps better ridden in the Vintage Crop back in April. He looks another big each/way contender whilst Wicklow Brave actually won this race last year when he simply battled better than Order of St George having made all and shouldn’t be underestimated, although Twilight Payment is consistent but has been beaten the last three times he’s faced Torcedor and, Order Of St George whilst Lord Yeats has been exposed since stepping up from a Listed contest.

Mount Moriah is another British challenger who appeared to be exposed when beaten in the Gordon Stakes, although the winner that day is set to go onto big things and this step back up in trip might be ideal for him. Western Hymn stayed well to win the Ormonde Stakes and bounced back from a poor Ascot run with a fair fourth at Newmarket. Perhaps he wants this trip and the surface might help too but he still must improve. The Tartan Spartan and Benkei look overmatched.

Advice: 1 pt each/way Dartmouth (8/1 general)

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