Match fitness of Ballydoyle pair must be taken on trust
Watering of the drier round course continued at the Curragh yesterday as Aidan O'Brien finally decided to declare six runners, headed by Steinbeck, for tomorrow's Abu Dhabi Irish 2000 Guineas.
The champion trainer, who originally left nine colts in the first Classic of the season here as he seeks a seventh victory in the mile event, has opted to saddle Jan Vermeer on Sunday instead -- also at headquarters.
Not surprisingly, Jan Vermeer is stepping up to a mile and a quarter for his initial outing of 2010 in the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes rather than accompanying Steinbeck and company to post for the Guineas.
The Montjeu colt was an impressive winner of the Criterium International over a mile at Saint-Cloud on his third start last November and has a 7lb Group One penalty to concede to his rivals for the Group Three Gallinules.
Steinbeck had just two outings last season, emulating his sire Footstepsinthesand with an impressive debut win at Naas a year ago and resuming belatedly with a close fourth in October's Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
Minor setbacks in the spring conspired to keep both Jan Vermeer, being considered after this weekend's action for the French Derby or the Epsom equivalent, and Steinbeck on the sidelines for the English Guineas.
Their match fitness for these significant Curragh contests therefore has to be taken on trust which might explain why Ladbrokes and William Hill made Canford Cliffs their Guineas first choices yesterday ahead of Steinbeck.
Richard Hannon's English 2000 Guineas third finisher was trading at 11/4 and 5/2 respectively with these firms as Ladbrokes offered Steinbeck at 3/1 and Hills were shorter still at 11/4.
Fencing Master, two places ahead of stable companion Steinbeck in the Dewhurst Stakes but only seventh back at Newmarket in the Guineas, was quoted at 11/2 (Hills) and 5/1 (Ladbrokes) yesterday.
Paddy Power meanwhile were reporting more activity in the ante-post market on Sunday's Etihad Airways Irish 1000 Guineas as their customers seemingly envisaged the spoils going for export.
Mick Channon's Nell Gwynne Stakes heroine Music Show, sixth in the controversial English version when drawn on the far, 'wrong' side at Newmarket, was cut half a point to 7/2 favourite with the leading Irish firm.
Godolphin's French import Anna Salai tightened up a point to 4/1 second favourite ahead of fellow supplementary entry Lolly For Dolly to give new trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni a Classic triumph with his first Irish runner.
Business with William Hill likewise reflected that scenario, this company indeed making Music Show and American-bred Anna Salai their 7/2 joint favourites.