Saturday 20 January 2018

Cool Moore doubles up with Gleneagles

Ryan Moore and Gleneagles claiming victory at the Curragh
Ryan Moore and Gleneagles claiming victory at the Curragh

Ian McClean

The enduring charm of horseracing is that it frequently defies the script. However, yesterday's Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas wasn't one of those days as it stuck like a limpet to the received advance wisdom.

The result of the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas was replicated if not to the letter, then at least to the number, as the 1-3 of Gleneagles and Ivawood at English HQ filled the parallel positions at Irish HQ on a radiant May afternoon on the plains of Kildare. Moreover, the horse that divided the pair at the finish - Endless Drama - was the big-demand each-way steamer of the day tumbling from a morning 20/1 to a final SP of just 9s.

The facts of the result, however, do not fully represent the story as those who laid the odds of 2/5 about Gleneagles are likely to have been invoking the assistance of St Jude inside the last quarter mile. They needn't have worried as instead of a saint at their side they had Ryan Moore in the saddle and the champion jockey judged everything from pace, ground and track position to perfection as the 'Eagle' ultimately landed a comfortable three-quarter-length victory.

Richard Hughes decided to take the race by the scruff of the neck early on aboard second favourite Ivawood adopting a catch-me-if-you-can plan. The danger of the inside draw for Gleneagles was always likely to be traffic-related. As Ivawood kicked from the front Gleneagles just didn't pick up with the quite the electricity of Newmarket owing to the easier ground, and with challengers Belardo and Endless Drama bearing down on the outside a concertina effect could have spelt curtains for the favourite.

However, Moore had enough horse at the crucial moment to manoeuvre past the paddling Convergence and bag the gap to deliver his winning challenge. Interestingly, Coolmore's John Magnier afterwards admitted "I was worried", while Moore explained separately by contrast that he was "never anxious". Which is why both men do what they do best - Moore does the steering and Magnier makes the decision to employ him.

Cool Moore's rationale was as simple as it is irrefutable - "I was confident in my horse. They went a good gallop. And when you're on the best horse the gaps normally come." We can all applaud the logic, but few have the balls to execute the strategy at the highest level with the remorseless consistency of Moore.

Tellingly, Aidan O'Brien, winning his tenth Irish Guineas, believed the easier ground was at the very cusp of inconvenience for Gleneagles who demonstrated yesterday he could win ugly as well as elegant - a chip of the old block of his uncle, Giant's Causeway.

The ground and the fact that O'Brien admitted to subjecting the son of Galileo to "just three half-speeds" in his work since the Newmarket Guineas means that we might have an even more formidable force when he next makes a racecourse appearance. While that could still conceivably be in the Derby (one of 16 still remaining), it will be a huge surprise if it isn't the St James's Palace at Royal Ascot instead.

Whatever about Gleneagles and the St James's Palace Stakes, the Curragh undercard served up a volley of other Royal Ascot contenders, amongst them a previous Royal meeting winner in Mustajeeb which won the Jersey Stakes at the fixture last June. Jockey Pat Smullen was bouncing around with an air of vindication after Mustajeeb had taken the very competitive Weatherbys Ireland Greenland Stakes.

Not since his debut had Mustajeeb run over the sprint distance of six furlongs - and you couldn't accuse the Nayef colt of underperformance in the interim with a second to Kingman in last year's Irish Guineas as well as the aforementioned Jersey win headlining the CV. The snug win yesterday back at the sprint distance inspired the remark from Smullen that "I'm glad he's gone and done that because six furlongs was pretty much my idea." The next stop is now at that same distance in Ascot's Diamond Jubilee.

Dermot Weld and Smullen doubled up when the heavily-supported Brooch maintained her unbeaten record on her seasonal reappearance. "She's a gorgeous filly - she's class. She's unbeaten and wants to go further," said Weld. "I've always thought she wanted a mile and a quarter but the Windsor Forest at Ascot will have to be considered. It's a stiff mile. I'll speak to Lord Grimthorpe and Prince Khalid (Abdullah) and see if we stay the mile route or go a mile and a quarter."

Finally, Jim Bolger's Round Two laid down another strong marker for Berkshire in mid-June when dominating the juvenile Marble Hill. There he could easily encounter the second horse, Aidan O'Brien's joint-favourite Washington DC which one could argue didn't get the run of the race. The Listed contest was nothing if not the perfect hors d'oeuvre for, dare I say, Round Two.

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