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Dubawi Gold uneasy market leader


Jessica Harrington's Steps to Freedom tackles a decent beginner's chase

Jessica Harrington's Steps to Freedom tackles a decent beginner's chase

Jessica Harrington's Steps to Freedom tackles a decent beginner's chase

Dubawi Gold, Frankel's closest pursuer in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket three weeks ago, is one of eight horses which have been confirmed for tomorrow's Abu Dhabi-sponsored Irish equivalent at the Curragh.

There are no surprise absentees in the final line-up for the first domestic Classic of the year, as Dubawi Gold remains an uneasy favourite for the Group One.

The Dubawi colt, whose trainer and jockey team of Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes will be looking to win the race for a second year in succession following Canford Cliffs' triumph in 2010, is widely available at 2/1.

Kevin Prendergast's well-backed Dunboyne Express, beaten just once in four career starts and a good winner of the Guineas trial at Leopardstown in March, trades at a general 9/4 for the one-mile showpiece. The son of Shamardal is followed in the market by Roderic O'Connor and Zabarajad, respectively.

Roderic O'Connor is one of three that Aidan O'Brien has in the €188,500 contest and is due to be partnered for a first time by the Ballydoyle trainer's son Joseph.

Having been an impressive winner of a Group One in France on his final start as a juvenile, the apprentice jockey's mount can be expected to leave behind the abysmal effort that saw him tailed off behind Frankel at Newmarket on his reappearance.

Zabarajad, still a maiden after three starts, is John Oxx's only contender as the Currabeg handler continues his search for a first win in the race, while Irish-born trainer Stan Moore bids for a debut Classic success with the other British-based runner in the field, Slim Shadey. Moore's 20/1 shot was fourth to Frankel on April 30.

The ground for the two-day Curragh fixture is still good to firm. As a result, Jessica Harrington, due to walk the course this morning, has stated that Laughing Lashes may not take her chance in Sunday's Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Last year's Debutante Stakes winner struggled on quick conditions in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, so Harrington is not keen to run her on similar ground again.

"It all depends on the rain," Harrington said yesterday. "If we get the rain that we're meant to, then Laughing Lashes will run. She came out of Newmarket fine, but she just won't let herself down on firm ground."

Angus Gold, racing manager to Hamdan Al Maktoum, also confirmed that his boss' Handassa would seek to repair her reputation in Sunday's Classic. The wide-margin Prendergast-trained Curragh maiden winner disappointed when fourth to Ballybacka Lady on her seasonal debut at Leopardstown two weeks ago.

Irish Independent