Tuesday 25 April 2017

So You Think to continue his northern conquest

IAN McCLEAN

The two Group One features at The Curragh this afternoon could hardly be more contrasting in nature. The first fillies classic looks an impenetrably wide-open affair, whereas Aidan O'Brien's Kiwi import So You Think will be at prohibitive odds to add a sixth Group One to his stash in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

While a future superstar may yet emerge from the clutch of 15 fillies lining up for the 1,000 Guineas, none has, as yet, received her coronation. However, So You Think has already been crowned king of the southern hemisphere and been shuttled north to great excitement for a campaign of all the major middle-distance races.

It was to the nation's infinite disappointment that So You Think didn't add the Melbourne Cup to his trophy cabinet last November. Already a national icon, he had won the Grade One Mackinnon Stakes just five days prior to contesting the race and his attempt to step up from 10 furlongs to two miles for the first time proved just beyond him as he was outstayed in the finish.

When he arrived at The Curragh for a gallop after racing a few weeks back, he inspired greater anticipation than anything that appeared on the actual racecard. His racecourse debut here in the Group Three Mooresbridge Stakes caused paddock-watchers to liken him to an equine Brian O'Driscoll ("masculine and muscular" was how one commentator described the five-year-old). And, like the number 13, he touched down with effortless ease against second-rate opposition to announce his arrival.

It was widely anticipated So You Think would clash today with Epsom Derby and Arc hero Workforce -- only for connections of that horse to decide to wait a few more days for the Brigadier Gerard at Sandown on Thursday instead for his reappearance. It leaves So You Think with an apparently undramatic-looking penalty-kick against lesser opposition to record a first Northern hemisphere Group One victory for his sire High Chaparral.

While So You Think's winning glow is already radiantly apparent, it is likely the winner of the 1,000 Guineas will have, until now, been hiding her light under a bushel. The race has a wide-open look to it -- as evidenced by the fact that there was only one withdrawal from the previous declaration stage.

The race provides a fascinating blend of the proven and the promising, with Group One performers like Together and Misty For Me mixing it with any number of fillies bursting with potential. Neither the French nor English Guineas winners travel here (although English Guineas form is represented here with Together) and the absence of a meaningful foreign runner makes it more of a local skirmish. Nonetheless, I couldn't predict with any certainty how, for all that, we mightn't unveil a filly to savour for the remainder of the season.

John Oxx fields two, and it can't have been easy for Johnny Murtagh to sort between Emiyna and History Note at this stage of their unfolding careers. Emiyna is slightly more obvious having already won the Group Three Athasi Stakes rather snugly with the expectation of more improvement. However, History Note ran with great promise in the Guineas Trial at Leopardstown -- staying on after enduring a troubled run -- and could herself be anything.

David Wachman re-introduces Chrysanthemum, unbeaten after Listed and Group Three successes at two. She remains a filly of great intrigue. Add to the mix Banimpire (fast-improving winner of her last three including two Group Threes), an unexposed quartet from Ballydoyle and a trio from Kevin Prendergast and it makes the financial crisis seem more easy to solve.

Sunday Indo Sport

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