Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 19 April 2018

Queen set for perfect Homecoming on Curragh mile

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Homecoming Queen, a 25/1 outsider when running her rivals ragged in the Newmarket 1,000 Guineas, is odds-on with all bar one of the major bookies to complete the double in the Irish equivalent at The Curragh tomorrow.

Joseph O'Brien takes over from Ryan Moore on the filly that is trained by his father Aidan, who switches Moore to After and has booked Seamie Heffernan for Ishvana.

Mick Channon's Samitar, to be ridden by Letterkenny-born champion apprentice Martin Harley, is the sole British raider for a Group One that boasts a first prize of €174,000.

La Collina, a shock winner of last year's Phoenix Stakes for Kevin Prendergast and fifth at Newmarket, is also on duty, while Dermot Weld relies on Yellow Rosebud. Held behind Maybe and Elusive Kate in two top-notch events in 2011, the Dr Ronan Lambe-owned filly cut a more progressive figure when taking a trial at Leopardstown on her reappearance.

If she can build on that, Pat Smullen's mount is no forlorn hope in the Etihad Airways-sponsored showpiece, though Homecoming Queen is hard to oppose now.

The daughter of Holy Roman Emperor left behind an unremarkable seasonal bow to take the initial Guineas trial at Leopardstown in April.

Then at Newmarket she confirmed that improvement by ploughing through the rain-softened ground to score by nine lengths.

Given the manner in which she handles cut, tomorrow's quicker conditions are a slight concern. Nonetheless, Homecoming Queen coped well with good ground at Leopardstown, while early pace is something she clearly doesn't lack.

Moreover, it's hard to avoid the reality that this year's renewal lacks strength in depth, so she is taken to emulate Attraction and Finsceal Beo by becoming just the third filly ever to win the two one-mile Classics. For all that the fillies' showpiece lacks depth, however, the five-strong line-up for the Tattersalls Gold Cup does little to contradict the notion that the 10-furlong heat is the most incongruous Group One in the domestic calendar.

Ballydoyle's So You Think, successful at odds of 1/7 in 2011, ought to become the fifth long odds-on winner in seven years. Famous Name, his only rival of any note, still awaits a first success at the highest level at seven years of age.

While few would begrudge Dermot Weld's stalwart a turn, he has never even managed to win a Group Two, and was brushed aside by So You Think when runner-up 12 months ago.

In between the two Group Ones, Jessica Harrington might record a second successive victory in the €60,000 Paddy Power Handicap courtesy of Backbench Blues. While Harrington took this with the more established Bob Le Beau in 2011, Backbench Blues is a less exposed sort.

A winner of his last three starts from just four runs, the three-year-old son of Big Bad Bob impressed when going clear of the subsequent Killarney scorer Croi An Or at Naas a month ago.

Prior to that, he denied the in-form Coolnagree at Leopardstown off a mark of 86, and an 11lb hike that leaves him with 8st 11lb isn't at all off-putting under Moore.

In the opening juvenile maiden, Jim Bolger's Leitir Mor, second to Infanta Branca here on its debut, can land the nap, with Caprella also appealing in the YAS Handicap.

Twice beaten a head in its three starts this term, Paul Deegan's filly sports first-time blinkers now, a development that might just help Chris Hayes get her home.

Irish Independent

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