Timeform Irish Preview: Hermosa looks a beauty

Aidan O'Brien
Aidan O'Brien will be aiming for a Group 1 double at the Curragh on Sunday afternoon.

Timeform preview Sunday's Group 1 action at the Curragh, which is headlined by the Irish 1000 Guineas.

"This race feels like the logical next step for Magical, and she’s a strong fancy to pick up a second career Group 1 success."

Timeform on Magical

The first of Sunday's two Group 1 contests is the Tattersalls Gold Cup, which is very much a Group 1 race in name only, regularly failing to attract the sort of fields that one would expect for a prize of its status/value. Indeed, the race is yet to feature a double-figure field this century, and the story is much the same this time round, with only five heading to post.

As such, the race looks to be Magical's to lose, with Aidan O'Brien's filly 8 lb clear of the field on weight-adjusted ratings. Having signed off last term with a stellar run to get within three quarters of a length of the magnificent Enable at the Breeders' Cup in November, Magical has built on that with two solid wins in pattern company so far this season, most recently when winning a Group 2 over C&D in comfortable fashion (by a length and a half from Flag Of Honour) 20 days ago. This race feels like the logical next step for Magical, and she's a strong fancy to pick up a second career Group 1 success.

The biggest threat looks likely to come from her stablemate, Flag Of Honour, who has chased Magical home on each of his two starts so far this season. Last year's Irish St Leger winner got closer last time than he managed on their respective reappearances at Naas, but he was readily swept aside in the closing stages and a place is probably the best he can hope for once again. Meanwhile, Mustajeer was only outbattled late on when finishing second in a Group 3 contest on his second start of the season at Navan last month and is best of the rest.

Following that race 35 minutes later is the Irish 1000 Guineas, in which Hermosa bids to seal a classic double having won the English equivalent at Newmarket at the beginning of the month.

Sent to HQ as Aidan O'Brien's third string that day, Hermosa is very much first choice for her yard this time around, spearheading a team of four for Ballydoyle in the 10-runner field. There was no fluke about the result at Newmarket, either, Hermosa showing improved form under a positive ride to make the breakthrough at the highest level, well on top at the finish. Considering that her stamina very much came into play that day, and that each of her full siblings were all winners over the Oaks distance, there's likely to be more to come from Hermosa when she's stepped up in trip, but, in the meantime, she looks to have leading claims of confirming the Newmarket form and winning again.

Four fillies are set to re-oppose from Newmarket, namely Qabala (third), stablemates Fairyland (fifth) and Just Wonderful (sixth), and Iridessa (eighth). The biggest threat to Hermosa is likely to come from the first-named, who got the closest to her of the quartet on what was just her third start. She didn't quite have the experience for such a test that day, taking time to get the hang of things in a big-field scenario and doing her best work in the final quarter of the race. With that run under her belt, she'll be more streetwise this time around. Iridessa, on the other hand, has something to prove having disappointed last time out, shaping as though she needed further, while Fairyland and Just Wonderful both have something to find if they are to overturn the form with their stablemate.

Two more to consider are Pretty Pollyanna and East. The latter signed off last term by finishing second in in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November, and ran well to finish third on her reappearance in the French 1000 Guineas two weeks ago, travelling smoothly and producing a borderline smart effort to get within a length and a half of the winner, Castle Lady. She appeals as the type to build on that, given that she hasn't had much racing, and it would be no surprise to see her run into a place.

Another interesting alternative is Pretty Pollyanna, who sets the standard on weight-adjusted ratings here. A smart two-year-old at her best, including when beating the boys in the Prix Morny, she failed to match that form when two and a quarter lengths third to Iridessa in the Fillies' Mile at Newmarket on her final start that season, with the longer trip perhaps to blame. That has to be a concern again here, but there is little to lose in giving it another go, with the option of reverting to sprinting later in the campaign.

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