Irish Preview: Promise well worth a punt

Ballydoyle could have another good day at the Curragh on Sunday
Ballydoyle could have another good day at the Curragh on Sunday

Timeform's Adam Houghton previews the pick of the action at the Curragh on Sunday, including the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes.

"That effort puts her almost on a par with So Perfect on ratings and she remains open to more improvement..."

Timeform on Lethal Promise

Aidan O'Brien has dominated the Irish Derby since taking over the reins at Ballydoyle in 1996, with last year's winner Capri bouncing back from a disappointing run at Epsom to give him an eleventh victory this century.

O'Brien also won two of the four Group races on Sunday's card 12 months ago - the Grangecon Stud Stakes with last year's leading two-year-filly Clemmie and the International Stakes with subsequent Melbourne Cup runner-up Johannes Vermeer - while the two pattern contests that he didn't win are races that he has dominated on a wider scale. Indeed, the 2017 Curragh Cup was the only renewal of the race he hasn't won in the last five years, while three of the last seven runnings of the Pretty Polly Stakes have also gone the way of Ballydoyle inmates.

O'Brien's last winner of the Pretty Polly was the brilliant Minding, who followed up her Oaks victory with a dominant performance at 5/1-on in this race in 2016, and Together Forever, one of three runners for O'Brien in this year's renewal, looks set to go off a red-hot favourite as she attempts to complete the same double.

A maiden going into the Oaks, she showed much improved form to get the better of Wild Illusion by four and a half lengths on that occasion, well on top at the finish despite briefly meeting some trouble three furlongs out. The increased emphasis on stamina was seemingly the main source of her improvement, but she appears to have a class edge over her five rivals here - 7 lb clear on weight-adjusted ratings - and is fancied to take the drop back in trip in her stride to record a second consecutive Group 1 victory.

The biggest dangers to the favourite in a six-strong field appear to be stablemate Bye Bye Baby and the William Haggas-trained Urban Fox. The former has eight lengths to find with Together Forever on their Epsom running, but should be seen to better effect back over the same C&D as when winning a Group 3 the time before, while Urban Fox was never nearer than at the finish when fourth in last week's Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot. She is well worth a try over a mile and a quarter on that evidence, and could yet have more to offer on just her third start for the yard.

O'Brien is responsible for three of the seven runners in the Curragh Cup, including Flag of Honour, the choice of Ryan Moore, and Victory Salute, who was an impressive winner of a Cork maiden last time. The last-named may yet prove capable of better up in trip, a brother to the 2015 winner of this race Bondi Beach after all.

However, the one who appeals most is Giuseppe Garibaldi. He proved better than ever when two lengths third to Old Persian in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last time (would have preferred a stronger gallop) and should take plenty of beating provided that run has not left a mark, with the return to further expected to see him in an even better light here (already a winner over a mile and five furlongs). Bloomfield looks best of the rest, back over the same trip as when producing a career best to win a listed race at Gowran Park in May.

O'Brien also holds a strong hand in the International Stakes, with little to separate Yucatan and Clear Skies on form, but the Grangecon Stud Stakes could be one to escape his clutches this time round, for all that So Perfect is likely to go off favourite on the back of her fourth behind Signora Cabello in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot last time.

Instead, it could pay to take a chance on Lethal Promise. She improved further to go one better than in two previous outings, producing a near-useful performance to open her account in bloodless fashion at Naas last time. That effort puts her almost on a par with So Perfect on ratings and she remains open to more improvement, while her earlier form is working out well (finished one place ahead of Queen Mary runner-up Gossamer Wings over C&D in May), too.

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