The first British Classic of the season takes place at Newmarket this Saturday in the form of the stanjames.com 2000 Guineas Stakes and John Oxx’s Sea The Stars could prove capable of springing a mild surprise in this one-mile contest.
A half-brother to the mighty Galileo, Sea The Stars had three outings as a juvenile last season and he stepped up from his fourth-placed debut effort at The Curragh on Irish Derby day by sluicing home in a seven-furlong maiden at Leopardstown on August 17th. The Cape Cross-sired colt then defeated stable companion Mourayan in the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes over a mile on his final two-year-old start at The Curragh last September.
Sea The Stars seems an extremely speedy colt that’s bound to be plenty forward for this assignment and the Cape Cross-sired colt is confidently predicted to credit the canny Oxx with his initial 2000 Guineas success a little after 3.10 on Saturday afternoon. Rip Van Winkle sustained a slight setback earlier this week, but if taking his chance on Saturday, then Aidan O’Brien’s colt is the one most likely to trouble the selection.
There’s likely to be an extremely Irish flavour to proceedings at Newmarket as Dermot Weld’s Casual Conquest will take all the beating in the afternoon’s main supporting event, the Group 2 stanjames.com Jockey Club Stakes over a mile and a half.
Casual Conquest was one of Dermot Weld’s best three-year-old colts’ last season as illustrated by his excellent third-placed effort behind New Approach and Tartan Bearer in the Epsom Derby.
As Casual Conquest also won the Group 2 Derrinstown Derby Trial Stakes on his seasonal debut at Leopardstown last year, the Rosewell House inmate is recommended to return to the coveted number one slot here at the expense of Spanish Moon.
Blythe Knight should defy his advancing years by disposing of Slam in the opening Stanjames.com Suffolk Heritage Handicap whilst Robin Bastiman’s crack sprinter Borderlescott should make a winning return to the fray by beating Dandy Man in the Group 3 stanjames.com Palace House Stakes.
The Channel 4 cameras will also be screening two races live from Goodwood. Brouhaha is taken to continue the terrific run of handler Tom Dascombe by supplementing his two recent all-weather victories by showing a clean pair of heels to Ahlawy in the toteswinger Stakes. Jaconet and Rocker are a likely pair in the totescoop6 Stakes with marginal preference for the former, trained by David Barron.
The fifth and final day of the Punchestown festival takes place on Saturday with the featured event being the Grade 1 Ballymore champion Four Year Old Hurdle. It could prove profitable to row in behind The Fist Of God in this two-mile contest.
The Fist Of God benefited from the application of blinkers when gamely beating Coffee Tea Or Me in a Grade 3 four-year-old hurdle at Fairyhouse on Easter Tuesday, April 14th. That was Fist Of God’s first start since Christmas and perhaps Noel Meade’s charge can make up for lost time here by beating Mourad.
Willie Mullins, Mourad’s trainer, shouldn’t leave empty-handed on Saturday for he’s likely to collect the Grade 3 Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association European Breeders Fund Mares Hurdle with Serpentaria.
Indeed, Serpentaria has won her three most recent starts and the five-year-old survived a final flight error to beat Baily View on her most recent foray in a three mile hurdle at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday. The drop down in trip to two and a quarter miles in unlikely to inconvenience Serpentaria and she’s taken to dismiss Shirley Caspar.
The Cox’s Cash & Carry Champion Hunters Chase is probably destined for export and Yorkshire handler Cherry Coward’s Amicelli, winner of last season’s Cheltenham Foxhunter, is likely to possess too many aces for fellow British challenger Christy Beamish. Badgerlaw should continue trainer Jessica Harrington’s excellent season by repelling Bella Mana Mou in the victorchandler.com Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase.
There’s racing at both Gowran Park and Sligo on Sunday. At Gowran Park, where the first of a seven-race flat card gets under way at 2.10pm, Oh Goodness Me stands out in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Victor McCalmont Memorial Stakes.
The Jim Bolger-trained Oh Goodness Me led quite literally in the shadow of the post when defeating Firey Red by a short head in the Group 3 Lodge Park Stud Stakes at The Curragh on March 22nd with Dermot Weld’s Classic-placed filly Mad About You a further head adrift in third spot. The ground was soft at The Curragh on that occasion and with a similar underfoot surface probable at Gowran on Sunday, it would be folly to look past Mad About You. The Galileo-sired filly’s biggest danger is likely to materialize in the form of Beach Bunny.
Air Chief Marshal, trained by Aidan O’Brien, should avenge his second-placed debut effort at Leopardstown on April 19th by dispensing with Love Lockdown in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden. Dermot Weld’s Cnocan Gold meanwhile could spring a mild surprise by usurping Blas Ceoil in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Fillies Handicap.
At Sligo, Earth Mother is the definite class act in the Smirnoff Mares (QR) Maiden Hurdle. The Willie Mullins-trained Earth Mother, a point-to-point winner on virtually unraceble ground conditions at Naul last year, has been mixing it with quite good company over flights of late.
On her most recent start, the daughter of Kayf Tara was only beaten a little over seven lengths into fifth spot by former flat winner End Of The Affair in a 30-runner mares’ maiden hurdle at Navan on March 28th. It’s not altogether surprising that Earth Mother is rated 115 over hurdles and the six-year-old should attain a deserved turn here by showing a clean pair of heels to College Daisy.
Unforgettable was raised three lbs to a new mark of 104 following his creditable second-placed effort over hurdles at Gowran on April 1st and John Murphy’s representative appeals as the most likely victor of the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.
Warhead is taken to outpoint Colbert Station in the “Join The 2009 Sligo Race Supporters Club” Opportunity Maiden Hurdle and Jimmy Mangan’s progressive four-year-old filly Midnight Lady, runner-up on her most recent start at Tipperary last week, is definitely the one for the getting-out stakes’ in the www.countysligoraces.com (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.