Horse Racing Tips

Friday Irish Racing Tips: Improving Haziya still ahead of the handicapper

The Irish Guineas meeting gets underway at the Curragh on Friday

"Always well placed, the daughter of Le Havre quickly put the race to bed when taking the lead inside the final furlong, winning with plenty in hand and making a mockery of an opening mark of 73 in the process"

Mark Milligan looks ahead to the first day of the Irish Guineas meeting, where he has three selections for us...

The three-day Irish Guineas meeting gets underway at the Curragh on Friday evening, with the feature race the extremely competitive 1m William Hill Emerald Premier Handicap at 18:00.

I had a few on the shortlist but none makes more appeal than Joseph O'Brien's Haziya, who could hardly have been more impressive on her debut for this yard when bolting up in a Leopardstown handicap at the start of April.

Always well placed, the daughter of Le Havre quickly put the race to bed when taking the lead inside the final furlong, winning with plenty in hand and making a mockery of an opening mark of 73 in the process.

From a good Aga Khan family, Haziya was picked up for what could prove to be a bargain €36,000 at the Goffs November Breeding Stock sale, and looks the type to go on improving for a while yet.

In fact, although the handicapper has bumped her up 86 for that facile Leopardstown win, there's every reason to suspect that mark will still underestimate her to a considerable degree.

It's also interesting to note that connections have passed up several winnable handicap opportunities for this filly since her Leopardstown success, instead opting to wait for this valuable contest, protecting her mark in the process.

However, as you'd expect, this is going to take a bit of winning, and there are several very plausible dangers lurking.

The most interesting of them is probably Fastnet Crown, who shaped as if right back to form when beaten just under a length into fourth in a Cork handicap last time. He's much more exposed than Haziya, though, and will likely need a career best to get the better of the filly.

Back Barca to get the win

The earlier 1m 2f Group 3 Heider Family Gallinule Stakes (17:25) can also go the way of Joseph O'Brien, as he unleashes the 500,000 guineas purchase Hannibal Barca for the first time.

Trained by Brian Meehan as a 2-y-o, this imposing son of Zoffany finished third on debut at Ascot in September before making no mistake on his second start in a novice contest at Salisbury later that month.

That form was franked with several of the beaten horses going on to win next time, and connections were buoyed enough to pitch him in at the deep end for his final start, where he belied odds of 25/1 to finish a cracking fourth behind Luxembourg in the Vertem Futurity at Doncaster, beaten less than 2 lengths.

Bred to be better the further he goes, it's no surprise to see Hannibal Barca stepped up in trip for his seasonal bow, and he looks sure to take all the beating in his bid to repay a chunk of that massive price tag.

As you'd probably expect, the main rival to Hannibal Barca hails from Ballydoyle, with Aidan O'Brien having won this race no less than thirteen times in the past.

Anchorage represents that yard here, and he took a step forward from a Thurles nursery win in October to finish a good third to Duke De Sessa and Piz Badile in a Group 3 at Leopardstown on his final juvenile start.

There's likely still more to come from this son of Galileo, though whether he holds quite as much potential as Hannibal Barca is open to debate. However, given his trainer's strong record in this race, you'd dismiss him at your peril.

Ice Cold In Alex worth a small wager

I'm going to take a bit of a flyer with my final selection, where I'm hoping Ice Cold In Alex can outrun likely big odds in the 7f handicap at 19:10.

Ken Condon's 8-y-o hasn't shaped with too much promise on both starts this season, though he did seem in need of the run on his first outing, and it could be that he was still working his way back to peak fitness when well held last time, too.

He was a good winner of a similar competitive handicap to this over C&D last summer and gets to race off a mark just 4lb higher this time, and it could be that this has the been the early season plan all along.

It's perfectly feasible to think that Ice Cold In Alex will need a couple of runs to come to himself now he's a little older, and if he's ready to fire on all cylinders, he could be set to go very well at should be a juicy price.

I'm not sure exactly how many places we'll be looking at on the Sportsbook at the time of writing, though I'd expect we'll get an extra one at least, making the selection an attractive each-way proposition.

Recommended bets

Mark's P/L

Staked: 176
Returns: 199.82
P/L: +23.82


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