O'Brien hopes for big Clemmie run
Aidan O'Brien is simply hoping for a good performance from Clemmie as she makes her seasonal debut in this afternoon's Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.
A full sister to Churchill, winner of last year's English and Irish 2,000 Guineas, Clemmie has not run since winning the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in late September. As well as having to overcome a 239-day absence, Clemmie has yet to run beyond six furlongs.
"Clemmie seems to be in good form, but we'll be very happy if she just runs a nice race," said O'Brien. "She will improve a ton from the race."
The Ballydoyle trainer has another powerful string to his bow in Happily, who is also bred to be a Classic winner, being a sister to dual 2,000 Guineas hero Gleneagles and Marvellous, who took this race in 2014. She ran well to be third in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on her seasonal bow.
"Happily came out of Newmarket very well and we're looking forward to her running," said O'Brien, who also saddles Could It Be Love and Most Gifted in a bid to register an eighth Irish 1,000 Guineas victory.
Soliloquy was only sixth in the fillies' Classic at Newmarket after winning the Nell Gwyn, but trainer Charlie Appleby put that down to the wrong tactics being employed.
"Soliloquy won the Nell Gywn and while there was a touch of disappointment with her run in the Guineas at Newmarket, we did slightly change her run style and in hindsight we could have let our filly bowl along a bit," he said.
Ger Lyons is happy to let Who's Steph take her chance after winning two Classic trials at Leopardstown.
"In an ideal world the slow side of good would be perfect, no extremes, just nice ground for her," he said. "While she won on quickish ground at Leopardstown she was a little bit stiff on it. We've been doing it 25 years, we've worked our way up and it's important to have runners good enough. I'm not saying she's good enough to win but she's good enough to take her chance.
"To me, off her current rating she's still shy of a Guineas horse and she has to improve, but at this moment in time I think she has the ability to be in the first four."
It is 37 years since Kevin Prendergast won the second of his two Irish 1,000 Guineas with Arctique Royale, but he is expecting a prominent showing from Alghabrah. A winner at Dundalk on her reappearance, she put in her best work at the finish to get within a length and a half of Who's Steph at Leopardstown two weeks ago.
"She's in good form. She ran a good race in the fillies' trial and I'll be disappointed if she's not there or thereabouts," said Prendergast. "I expect her to be competitive."
Lightening Quick won the Athasi Stakes at Naas on her last start for Lyons before being moved by owners Qatar Racing to Johnny Murtagh, who rode Again to victory in 2009.
Jessica Harrington wants decent conditions for Alpha Centauri, whom she reports to be in fine shape for this big test.
Meanwhile, Cliffs Of Moher bids for his first Group One success when he lines up for the Tattersalls Gold Cup. Last year's Investec Derby runner-up warmed up for the 10-furlong showpiece with victory in the Group Two Mooresbridge Stakes at Naas, when he defeated Success Days. His trainer, O'Brien, believes this is the obvious next port of call.
"We were happy with Cliffs Of Moher at Naas last time and he came home really well that day," he said. "The Tattersalls Gold Cup looked a logical next race for him so we are looking forward to running him. We'll stay at a mile and a quarter for the moment and then we'll see where we go after that."
O'Brien also saddles Lancaster Bomber, who was third in the Lockinge last weekend, while his son, Joseph, is represented by Reckless Gold.
The chief threat to Cliffs Of Moher promises to be British raider Defoe, although his participation hinges on the ground and trainer Roger Varian plans to walk the track on raceday. He is, however, happy with the shape his four-year-old is in, with a Group Three and Two already in the bag this season.
"He's done nothing wrong in his whole career really, but this year has been a step up from last year," said the Newmarket trainer. "He's one of our best horses and with the whole season he's very exciting when you put him in the middle-distance bracket. He is a horse that can contest some of the top prizes and he's very well."
Success Days is making his third successive appearance in the race, having finished third and fourth in the last two renewals. Success Days was only beaten a length and three-quarters by Cliffs Of Moher less than four weeks after taking on the mighty Winx in Australia.
Sunday Indo Sport