Irish Eyes is back to preview Sunday's action, with two bets at the Curragh and the nap of the day coming at Killarney.
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No matter how you view the first race, Aidan O’Brien’s Actress, a first-crop daughter of his former charge Declaration Of War, looks unopposable.
The eldest filly in the field, by over a month, her January 12th birth date means she is two years and four months, meaning she is three and a half months older than Well Why Not, for example.
She met a future Group-winner in-waiting when a game runner-up to Alpha Centuri on her debut and with that experience behind her, the drop back in trip to five furlongs should not pose any problems. She should book her Queen Mary ticket but taking this in good style but is likely to be very short.
The second race is a typically competitive sprint handicap which has attracted a massive 21 runners. There are positives and negatives for the co-top weight ACCALIA but overall she might be worth taking a chance on each-way.
She is trained on the Curragh by John Hayden and there is little doubt that she would have a much stronger chance with the benefit of a run under her belt. She has been the bridesmaid on no less than four occasions whilst she only won one of her 11 starts but that only tells half the story.
When she made her debut at this track as a 50/1 shot, she was only beaten five lengths by subsequent multiple Listed placed performer How High The Moon and on her second start here she was fifth behind future Group Three winner Smash Williams.
She was runner-up on three consecutive occasions (beaten a nose and twice by half-a-length) prior to winning over the minimum at Down Royal.
On her final start at the Curragh last season she again finished half-a-length runner-up to Primo Uomo, despite racing in isolation on the near side for most of the journey. She raced off 76 that day and when you consider what Primo Uomo has achieved this year (two wins and third in a Listed race, now rated 104) it is encouraging that Accalia today races off one-pound lower than her when second to Ger O’Leary’s charge here last October.
She looks very well handicapped and rates a good each-way bet at 9/1 (with several firms offering five places).
In the Listed Sole Power Sprint, the spotlight will be on the in-foal Queen Mary winner Acapulco on her first start for Aidan O’Brien but the fact that she has already been covered by Galileo suggests that her breeding career has superseded her racing one and it is hard to back her with any confidence until we know she retains her old ability.
The aforementioned Primo Uomo has an obvious chance and again gets 5lb from Ger Lyons' top-weight ARDHOOMEY who carries a penalty for his Group 2 Flying Five win here last year. Ardhoomey was a length clear last time when the pair finished second and third behind Washington DC, who was subsequently just touched off in a very good renewal of the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket last weekend. That form looks very good in the context of this race and despite having to concede weight all around, Ardhoomey looks solid.
If Just Glamorous bounces back to form after a disappointing reappearance on good-to-firm ground last week in Newmarket, he could prove a danger to all from the front, but it’s hard to rely on him after he finished last of 15 in the Palace House. Ardhoomey therefore looks the safest bet.
In the fourth race, Island Remedy has the form of her runner-up spot in the Listed Noblesse Stakes boosted last night at Belmont Park when the winner, Zukhova, beat the colts in the Grade 1 Man O’War Stakes.
Fellow prominent NH trainer Gordon Elliott had a winner at HQ yesterday, Willie Mullins won the St Leger here last year and Jessie Harrington regularly trains winners at the track so it would be no surprise at all to see Henry de Bromhead have a decent winner at the Curragh as well.
Irish Correspondent made a very favourable impression when winning his maiden comfortably on debut and will be a warm order to complete a double in the five-runner Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race but Aidan O’Brien’s third favourite Homesman could give him a run for his money, despite not looking the most straightforward and being back in trip here.
The application of a visor might help, in the absence of the cruellest cut of all (gelding), and at 9/2 he is probably overpriced.
We go to Killarney for the nap however, in the Listed Mares’ Hurdle where the market suggests Willie Mullins will dominates today’s race with his two runners currently heading the market.
ASTHURIA, running in the famous Hurricane Fly colours, had Good Thyne Tara six and a half lengths back in third when they last met at the Punchestown festival off level weights.
The latter is better off to the tune of 7lb and technically should be able to turn the form around with Asthruia who concedes weight all round today.
However, that assumes the race will be run in a similar fashion to the Punchestown event as Good Thyne Tara is undoubtedly better over further and consequently a strong pace suits her over this trip.
That is not guaranteed, in fact it looks unlikely, considering it was Asthuria who made all the running at Punchestown and she is giving weight away all around.
She may well be able to do it but she is tractable and looks equally as comfortable dropped in and coming from behind, as she did on her Irish debut when finishing third in a Grade 1 hurdle and again at Cheltenham on her penultimate start when fifth behind stablemate Let’s Dance in the Grade 2 Mares Novice Hurdle.
There is no doubt the 7lb could turn the form around but the pace of the race and the sheer style of victory at Punchestown is enough to see Asthuria get the nap today.
Posted at 1028 BST on 14/05/17.