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Curragh - 20th March

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Very good card at the Curragh to start the flat season. First two races I've nothing but in the 3.15 I think Shanghai Beauty is a good bet. Had a good 2 year old campaign which probably got her a poor mark but she gradually improved throughout the year culminating in a good 3rd on her handicap debut. She's been dropped 4lbs for that surprisingly, will love the ground and Condon has his runners pretty straight first time out so 14/1 looks good. Laganore was really impressive at Leopardstown but might need this and drops down 2f in trip which doesn't look ideal. Another horse from that race Club Wexford is interesting. He lost 8L at the start but stayed on strongly and was beaten just over 3L in the end. Generously dropped 5lbs he looks on a good mark but again the drop 2f in trip doesn't look ideal.

In the 3.50 we've got a competitive looking Group 3. Devonshire sets the standard but I think she might be exposed to more improving types. Queen Catrine is also quite smart but I reckon the ground will be too slow for her. Joailliere went off 10/1 in the 1000 Guineas on her 2nd start and the ground is ideal but she's got to step up on that and isn't much of a price although she's drifting this morning. Fluff can be taken on first time out for O'Brien so I like Glamorous Approach at 7/1. This one won a Listed race last time at Newmarket over 10f and has been talked up as an Oaks filly. She drops to a mile here but I remember Aidan saying soft ground at the Curragh is more like 10f which might be a bit of an exaggeration but it is certainly a stiff test of stamina. Bolger has his string ready first time out and has two others in here who will hopefully set a nice gallop.

The 4.25 is a cracking handicap. Awtaad won a good looking maiden but he beat a first time out O'Brien horse who may have needed it and is short enough in a good race when he might come on for the run. Theodorico has classic entries and Bolger says he didn't like the cheekpieces last time when he narrowly won a handicap at Leopardstown. He was smashed in that day and is interesting but I just preferred Weld's Party Angel. She only won a Dundalk maiden last time but it has worked out well and she looks like she could be better than 76. We all know about Weld this time of year and 12/1 looks decent.

In the Lincoln I like Onenightidreamed. Won this last year and improved again to win a Group 3. Probably not the best Group 3 and a bit concerning that he was only seen twice last year as a 4 year old but his trainer says he has to have it soft which might be the reason. He's still progressive and is 3 wins from 5 so looks a good play at a double figure price.

The last maiden is another cracking race but the Weld horse looks short enough with some really promising types behind him in the betting.


3.15 - Shanghai Beauty @ 14/1 William Hill

3.50 - Glamorous Approach @ 7/1 William Hill

4.25 - Party Angel @ 14/1 Betvictor

4.55 - Onenightidreamed e/w @ 11/1 Betvictor

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woah........this has crept up under the radar !

I wasn't aware of this until just now

A few years ago when I used to concentrate on the higher end Flat races I used to get unfeasibly excited by the Park Express Stakes (group 3)........I'd make big notes on all the runners, past trends, think about how to record info about the race and the horses that ran in it..........with the intention of doing the same for all group races

That used to last two or three weeks until I realised how much time and work was involved, then I'd give up..........:lol

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Pretty good opening card to be honest. I'm really excited, looking forward to drive down later. Fingers crossed it stays dry. 

Stenographer is the Bolger one who arsenal called out who cost a staggering $450.000 as a yearling. Could be the right type for this race actually, if he acts on the ground. 

Interesting to see a first So You Think son as well. Runs in the opening maiden but shouldn't have a chance. But those SYT sons I've seen on photos from Australia all loked very much like daddy. So keen to see if Cosy Club is the same here. 

I'm looking forward to see quite a couple of others today too: Fluff, Joailliere, Awtaad, Verbosity, Ashraf, Onenightidreamed & Embiran, to name a few. And I have a sneaky feeling Claudio Monteverdi who runs in the last for O'Brien could be a good one.


2.10 – 5f Maiden: Jim Bolger won this one on a number of occasions in the past, most notably with Dawn Approach. But the year before his Whip Rule was successful, and that is noteworthy because Intensely Focussed hails from the same family and is therefore not surprisingly the favourite here.

Other individuals to keep an eye on are Terrific Feeling for trainer Michael O’Callaghan, who won this last year. This son of Sir Prancealot has a bit of speed on his side, so could go well. Kieren Fallon is on board. He’s the retained rider of the O’Callaghan yard this season. Prendergast’s Tawaleef and Weld’s Tilly Trotter can go close.

2.40 – 6f Maiden: I’m most intrigued by Jim Bolger trained Stenographer who cost a staggering $450.000 as a yearling. Could be the right type for this race. Though it’s interesting that Richard Fahey brings over the 90 rated Paddy Power, who’s got some fine maiden form from to his name. Also an intriguing contender is The Moore Factor who finished runner-up at Galway with plenty of promise on his sole start.

3.15 – 6f Handicap: Open enough race where favourite Laganore has excellent form in the book yet appears short enough in the betting given he drops markedly in trip and is going to race on really soft ground for the first time.Richard Fahey’s Patrick is an intriguing runner if he acts on the ground.

For a huge price I like to call out Deeds Not Words. Bottom of the weighs, races off a nice low mark, but should enjoy the return to 6 furlongs and has won on soft ground before. Far from disgraced in his last starts at Dundalk. 20/1 is huge.

3.50 – 1m Park Express Stakes: Fair to say Devonshire is the one to beat. She sets a high standard given her 3rd place in last years 1000 Guineas. Her win record isn’t all that positive though. In fact she never won over a mile, though the going is to her advantage.

Joailliere hasn’t been seen since she bombed out in the Irish 1000 Guineas. However she looked very talented when winning a Gowran Park maiden on her debut and she might be the type that gets better with age.

Such a late bloomer could be Aiden O’Brien’s Fluff as well. She’s had only one career start, as she produced a stunning turn of foot at Navan last year. She can be anything but is certainly an exciting. prospect. At 6/1 I like her a lot.

From the bigger prices I feel you can’t fully rule out Queen Blossom. Lightly raced, she looked a scopey sort last year, who appreciates cut in the ground. She surely showed some promise in her two starts.20/1 is too big.

4.25 – 7f Handicap: An intriguing contest with exciting Awtaad leading the betting. The son of Cape Cross looked excellent when winning a 7f maiden last season and subsequently was talked up as a potential Derby horse. In fact he has an entry for the big one in June, so it’s slightly surprising to see him starting his campaign in a handicap.

Albeit it’s a deep one which provides a really tough test. Top weight Awtaad won’t have it all his own way here. Johnny Murtagh’s Newsman is a nice Makfi colt, whereas Ger Lyons’s Roderic O’connor gelding Mint Chai is anotherone worth mentioning.

The biggest challenge could come from a filly though. It took Verbosity a while but the penny finally dropped at Cork in October on her handicap debut. In soft conditions she was able to produce a stunning change of gear and her revised mark is probably on the lenient side. She looks like a filly that’ll do better with age anyway. At 9/1 she’s the one I put up against the classy favourite.

4.55 – 1m Irish Lincoln: A hot renewal where Dermot Weld’s Ashraf looks the class act. The four year old is still unexposed but looked a Group winner in the making last season. Although a mark of 97 is quite a tough task to overcome.

There are plenty of alternatives. Cailin Mor was an impressive winner when last seen in Cork and an 6lb raise might be lenient. Then there is last years Lincoln winner Onenightidreamed. Still lightly raced, he won both his starts in 2015, including the Lincoln and followed up with a Group 3 success. He loves the soft ground but has a huge mark to overcome. Nonetheless at 11/1 he’s a tick overpriced in my book.

Two big prices I also like are Vivat Rex and Lady Giselle. The latter one is 4lb out of the weights but is a real soft ground horse who has a pretty good record over 1m too. Vivat Rex in contrast isn’t quite sure to appreciate the going but is generally unexposed on turf and drops to a fair mark after a pipe opener at Dundalk for new connections earlier this month. Both are 40/1 shots.

5.25 – 1m Maiden: Could we see some future stars in this field? Favourite Embiran could be one. He finished extremely eye-catchingly on his debut and sole start in 2015. Aiden O’Brien’s Bravery is not one to underestimate. He ran on well in a 7f maiden when runner-up behind Awtaad. He looked green but clearly talented that day.

Stable mate Claudio Monteverdi was absolutely clueless on his debut last year but shaped very well in the finish and might be an even better prospect than Bravery I feel. Stellar Mass sets a good standard as he was only a lengths beaten 4th in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes last season.

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22 minutes ago, BillyHills said:

Didn't Tommy Stack always do well early on in Ireland, whatever happened to him?

Not many runners nowadays.

Good luck, its a lottery:\

Yea, first thing I did on realising this meeting was today was to look for Stack's runners.......he's only got 2, one in each of the last 2 races. I'll see how they get on

The 2 golden rules for early season Irish racing used to be

Follow T Stack

Oppose A O'Brien




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Actual/Expected winners, credit to Tony Keenan.



Tony Keenan ‏@RacingTrends  20h20 hours ago

A/E of main Irish flat trainers in March/April of Irish turf season last 5 years: APOB(0.78),DKW(1.06),JSB(0.98),Lyons(0.72),Halford(0.46).

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Interestingly I read Lyons' blog today and he strangely doesn't have any turf gallops. His tend to need the run and that might be one explanation why as they need to get used to the surface.

Of the smaller trainers Stack, O'Callaghan and Condon figure highly in the Actual/Expected winners for March and April and should be kept onside at this time of year.

Edited by arsenalfh
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