Kingman ready to seize crown
KINGMAN is fancied to belatedly fulfil his Classic potential by justifying odds-on favouritism in what is a cracking edition of the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas today.
In a messy race at Newmarket last month, John Gosden's colt emerged with plenty of credit, despite getting foiled by the wayward Night Of Thunder.
The Curragh has a reputation for being a more fair and even test than the Rowley Mile, so this represents an ideal opportunity for the son of the National Stud's excellent sire Invincible Spirit to set the record straight.
A massively exciting prospect, James Doyle's Khalid Abdullah-owned mount had destroyed Night Of Thunder in the Greenham.
While the tables were then turned at Newmarket, it's fair to say that he emerged on top of the far-side group in authoritative fashion.
Night Of Thunder lunged across the track and quickened late on, so there was simply no time for Kingman to mount a response.
The two horses ended up so far apart, he probably wasn't even aware that he needed to react, as he had already seen off those on the far side.
In this afternoon's €300,000 Group One, Kingman will encounter ground on the slow side of good for a first time – something that his connections don't appear to have been at all discouraged by.
He has a favourable inside draw, so, all things being equal, there should be no reason why he won't assert his authority over his 13 rivals under the talented Doyle.
Richard Hannon elected to supplement Shifting Power, which was one of those that was switched to the near side after a furlong at Newmarket before eventually finishing fourth.
He is obviously respected, while Aidan O'Brien saddles five in his quest to secure the prestigious three-year-old contest for a 10th time and a fourth on the spin.
Joseph O'Brien, who turned 21 yesterday, has opted for last year's Dewhurst hero War Command.
Sporting first-time blinkers, the War Front colt can be expected to pose a more telling threat than he did when a never-dangerous ninth at Newmarket, and it is worth remembering that he improved a bundle for his first run last term to sluice up at Royal Ascot.
At odds of 7/1, he is arguably the best value option in the race.
Ger Lyons goes in search of glory with the Jamie Spencer-ridden Obliterator, which chased home True Story in Newmarket's Feildon Stakes, but might yet be withdrawn if the ground is deemed too soft.
The other one of real interest is Mustajeeb, whose trainer Dermot Weld was the last Irish-based handler not operating from Ballydoyle to win this with Flash Of Steel way back in 1986.
Second to War Command in the Futurity Stakes in the autumn, Mustajeeb showed a willing attitude to see off a smart field of older rivals on his Leopardstown reappearance.
He will need to step up on that again now, but could well do so, given the remarkable run of form that his Rosewell House stable has been enjoying this term.
Weld, Smullen and Abdullah are tipped to collect with Big Break in the Lanwades Stud Stakes.
This is a wide-open renewal of a Group Three that the same trio won with Emulous in 2011 and 2012, with Roger Varian's Princess Loulou representing the raiders under Doyle.
Any amount of the 14 contenders could have a say, but Big Break is worth a venture on her return. Successful in two of her three juvenile starts, the full-sister to Famous Name was a fine fourth on her comeback in the 1,000 Guineas here last year.
She failed to win in good company in three starts thereafter, but signed off with a decent second to Francis Of Assisi at Leopardstown.
With the ground in her favour, she could return to winning ways now.
In the Marble Hill Stakes, The Great War shouldn't have much trouble confirming his Royal Ascot credentials for Ballydoyle, while Maarek is the day's nap in the Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes.
Darwin and Slade Power are real dangers to Evanna McCutcheon's brilliant sprinter in the €65,000 Group three, but neither have the benefit of a run here.
That could prove crucial, as Maarek looked to have really come to himself when conceding weight to a decent field in the Clipper Logistics Stakes at York. If he runs to that level for Declan McDonogh again now, then the mud-lover will be the one that they all have to beat.