Sunday 21 January 2018

Curvy shapes like Classic filly

Curvy, pictured here winning the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes ahead of Giovanni and Prince Gagarin, can achieve another success under Wayne Lordan at The Curragh this evening
Curvy, pictured here winning the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes ahead of Giovanni and Prince Gagarin, can achieve another success under Wayne Lordan at The Curragh this evening
Jockey Wayne Lordan
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Curvy is fancied to cap her remarkable ascent up the ranks by triumphing in this evening's Darley Irish Oaks under Wayne Lordan.

The €400,000 Group One has the makings of a quality renewal, although the likely defection of Aidan O'Brien's Epsom heroine Qualify would take from proceedings.

Colm O'Donoghue's mount ran better in the Irish Derby than her finishing position of sixth suggests, but ground that has officially changed from good to firm to good to yielding since Thursday's declaration stage could see her scratched.

Should that transpire, Ballydoyle would still be left with three chances in today's 12-furlong Curragh Classic, but stablemates Kissed By Angels and Together Forever have quite a bit to prove right now.

In a way, so does Words, which Joseph O'Brien has opted to partner in his quest for a first Irish Oaks success.

The difference with Words, though, is that she hasn't been tested at this sort of exalted level yet.

A daughter of Dansili, she won a decent maiden in fine style at headquarters on Irish Derby weekend last year, beating Qualify and Raydara in the process. On her reappearance at Cork a full year later, she faced a race-fit Carla Bianca in a Group Three, and overcame her greenness to eventually get on top, scoring by a half-a-length without being punished.

It might have been to Carla Bianca's disadvantage to have had to make the running on that occasion over a mile-and-a-half, but she paid Words a timely compliment when leading her rivals a merry dance in a Leopardstown Group Three over nine furlongs on Thursday.

While Words is clearly an exciting prospect, she might lack experience for a race of this nature.

John Gosden's Gretchen also has enormous scope to improve on her third career start following a fine fifth in the Ribblesdale Stakes, but her Royal Ascot conqueror is the filly with ticks in all the right boxes here.

Despite showing little as a juvenile, Curvy has blossomed into the performer that her £813,750 price-tag and pedigree suggest she should be.

David Wachman's Coolmore-owned Galileo sister to the 2012 Irish 2,000 Guineas victor Power is unbeaten in four this year, having begun in a Navan handicap off a mark of 72.

She accounted for the eventual Derby fourth Giovanni Canaletto in a Group Three here over 10 furlongs prior to Ascot, where she relished this longer trip to fend off the Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Pleascach in determined fashion.

All told, Curvy fully deserves her chance at this level, and she appeals as being capable of securing Lordan with a breakthrough Classic success.

In the juveniles' maiden, Wachman introduces Clear Skies, a £525,000 JP McManus-owned Sea The Stars sister to the 2005 Derby winner Motivator, but preferred is Ballydoyle's Shogun, which sports first-time blinkers after a middling debut here last month.

The €120,000 Invincible Spirit Sapphire Stakes is being run as a Group Two for a first time and the line-up is in keeping with the promotion.

Moviesta, Monsieur Joe, Wind Fire, Russian Soul and Stepper Point are all decent sprinters at their best, but Mecca's Angel is nap material.

Michael Dods' four-year-old mare has progressed into a serious operator, scoring for a fifth time in six starts when storming clear in a Longchamp Group Three in May. She is an out-and-out five-furlong horse, and the likely cut in the ground here is exactly what Dods has been waiting for, so she ought to deliver for Paul Mulrennan.

The Handicap is a cracking €100,000 affair, with George Baker's top-weighted Intibaah a live contender in first-time blinkers under O'Brien.

Paul Midgley's Mississippi is another raider of note, while Eddie Lynam's Balmont Mast put it up to Gordon Lord Byron here last month.

Of the 14 runners, the Ken Condon-trained In Salutem might be the pick. Chris Hayes' mount has been a little frustrating, but he had been running well in defeat over this six-furlong distance, prior to finding the minimum trip too sharp on his last two outings.

The handicapper has finally relented by dropping In Salutem 3lb to 84. Having won over course and distance off 78 on similarly slow ground in April, that gives him a serious chance.

Mark Johnston's Norfolk fifth Rogues' Gallery faces four locals in the Group Three Anglesey Stakes. This is open, but it will be disappointing if Jessica Harrington's Final Frontier doesn't back up his fine debut win.

In the earlier seven-furlong handicap, Sabrina Harty's Breathe Easy should build on the promise of its reappearance second on the same day.

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