Tuesday 23 January 2018

Galileo can join select stars at the Curragh

Trainer Hugo Palmer (Photo: Getty)
Trainer Hugo Palmer (Photo: Getty)
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

At its romantic best, racing has a knack of random unpredictability, but history would suggest that the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas is downright two-dimensional.

In the 29 editions since Dermot Weld won the Curragh Classic with Flash Of Steel, the winner has been trained in Ballydoyle by an O'Brien or hailed from foreign shores.

Of the eight runners in today's €300,000 edition of the mile Group One, three have the potential to bring that curious anomaly to an end.

Awtaad is charged with securing Kevin Prendergast a first win in the race since he scored with Northern Treasure 40 years ago. Prendergast's fellow old hand Jim Bolger is, somehow, still chasing a breakthrough victory with Sanus Per Aquam.

At the other end of the scale, 27-year-old Curragh handler Michael O'Callaghan strives to augment the impressive start that he has made to his career by masterminding a famous win with Blue De Vega, whose rider Colin Keane is also vying for what would be a landmark success.

All three have chances of sorts. In truth, though, anything other than the status quo being extended to 30 would constitute a bit of a shock.

Hugo Palmer has charged his decisive 2,000 Guineas hero Galileo Gold with becoming the ninth horse to complete the Newmarket-Curragh double.

The Irish Classic is 95 years old, yet four of the eight to plunder both have done so since 2002, Gleneagles being the most recent in 2015. Palmer has saddled two runners here before, and both have passed the post in front, Covert Love giving him a first taste of Classic glory in last year's Oaks. Galileo Gold was ruled out of a potential Derby tilt once and for all yesterday, but he is fancied to enhance his reputation here. At Newmarket, Frankie Dettori's mount won readily, and he hasn't got the credit that he deserves.

That might be partly to do with Air Force One's dismal turn. Aidan O'Brien, who will saddle four in his quest to win this for an 11th time, has tweaked his training since, and indicated that he simply might not stay a mile.

However, despite being strongly fancied, Air Force One never looked like winning at any stage in Newmarket. O'Brien has brought the likes of Power and Roderic O'Connor back from similar defeats in the 2,000 Guineas to win this, but little was expected of them at Newmarket.

The fear is that Air Force One might not have trained on from last year. Galileo Gold, on the other hand, clearly has, so he appeals as nap material to follow up under Dettori. Of the others, O'Brien's Air Vice Marshall - fourth at Newmarket - could be value for a place at up to 7/1 under Seamie Heffernan.

O'Brien and Ryan Moore combine for Fluff in the Lanwades Stud Stakes, but Bolger's Lucida can take this.

A slightly unlucky second in last year's 1,000 Guineas, Lucida was a close third to Ervedya in the Coronation Stakes before going down by a length-and-a-half to Amazing Maria in the Falmouth Stakes.

She is a solid Group One performer with scope to improve as a four-year-old, so she is fancied under Kevin Manning.

Co Louth native Richard Fahey and Tony Hamilton can strike with unbeaten raider Don't Touch in the Greenlands, while Caravaggio may take the Marble Hill for O'Brien and Moore.

The American-bred son of Scat Daddy looked deeply precocious on its recent Dundalk debut.

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