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Big Break can defy trip reservations and seize opportunity for Weld

Tomorrow's Curragh card features two wildly contrasting Group Ones, the first a woeful non-event comprising one very good horse, the other a wide-open contest that probably lacks a true star.

In truth, it has been thus with the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas for years. Aidan O'Brien has saddled four long odds-on shots to go through the motions in the Gold Cup since 2008, a fact that utterly undermines the 10-furlong event's elite status.

Needless to say, that is no fault of the Ballydoyle maestro, but a four-runner edition, in which Camelot should hardly break sweat to see off the overhyped English raider Al Kazeem, ought to prompt a comprehensive revision of the race in its current guise.

The fillies' Classic, on the other hand, once again promises to make for compelling viewing, albeit there are few contenders about which you would get too excited.

Joseph O'Brien has opted for Newmarket fifth Snow Queen over the improvers Hanky Panky and Just Pretending, while Eddie Lynam has the benefit of Johnny Murtagh's steady hand as he tries to secure a first Classic triumph with the prolific Viztoria, a speedy and game sort of filly that tries a mile for a first time here.


Up-and-coming handler Andy Oliver saddles two of the 16 runners, having forked out €30,000 to supplement Dubaya after the Dubawi filly finished a soundly beaten fourth behind Viztoria in the Athasi Stakes earlier in the month. Charlie Hills' Newmarket runner-up Just The Judge is another player, but Big Break is the one trusted to score.

Representing Dermot Weld's in-form stable, the full-sister to fellow Khalid Abdullah-owned Famous Name is making her seasonal bow in a €300,000 mile contest that her handler has won four times. That lack of race-fitness is obviously a slight concern in such a competitive race and the likely quick ground is also a bit of an unknown.

Nonetheless, Big Break looked extremely good in winning her second and third starts at Leopardstown as a juvenile, latterly accounting for a number of smart colts – including Magician – when striding nearly four lengths clear in the Kilavullan Stakes.

If there is a three-year-old of serious merit on duty, it is surely Pat Smullen's mount.

The Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes is another intriguing affair, with Battle Of Marengo's Derrinstown form on trial via the John Oxx-trained third, Little White Cloud.

While Paul Deegan's unbeaten Sruthan is another to consider, preference is for Ballydoyle's Leading Light, which was so impressive at Navan first time up.

The O'Briens can also land the nap with Lake Nova in the Newstalk 106-108 Maiden after the Montjeu colt's debut second at Tipperary, with Colm Murphy's Aladdins Cave and Cecil Ross' Six Of Hearts the two to keep on side in the handicaps.

Both nine-year-olds caught the eye by finishing second on their respective reappearances and look as though they possess marks off which they can win.

Irish Independent