Irish Guineas Weekend Preview 2017: Favourites very hard to oppose at the Curragh

Aidan O'Brien exerts a stranglehold over this weekend's racing at the Curragh but Tony Keenan looks elsewhere for his Epsom Derby bet
Aidan O'Brien exerts a stranglehold over this weekend's racing at the Curragh but Tony Keenan looks elsewhere for his Epsom Derby bet

Tony Keenan has been through the three Group 1s at the Curragh this weekend for and also looks ahead to the Epsom Derby...

"The 2,000 Guineas was a strong renewal but didn’t show Eminent to best effect; it wasn’t so much the trouble he met late on but the lack of pace that didn’t test his stamina."

Back Eminent @ 9.08/1 for the Epsom Derby

It's not uncommon for a short-priced Aidan O'Brien favourite to dominate conversation ahead of a Curragh classic weekend but even by past standards this year's Irish Guineas meeting feels particularly chalky with the obvious ones - Churchill, Minding and Winter - very hard to beat in their respective Group 1s. Those races look dull which befits the watered-down version of the track that will stage racing; this is a racecourse that shouldn't be in use at moment with building works ongoing and they will do well to attract close to the 6,000 capacity given the lack of competition on the turf.

2,000 Guineas

There were reasons to question whether Churchill was the best horse at Newmarket, the run of the race suggesting the second and third would at least get closer to him next time, but it is much more difficult to question his being the best horse in this field. The hope was that at least one of Barney Roy or Al Wukair would run here and shed some light on the true pecking order among the three-year-old milers but it seems that will have to wait until Royal Ascot.

Irishcorrespondent has been well-backed since his win over course-and-distance last time but that looks more to do with the lack of competition and he looks the wrong second favourite; he could easily improve seven pounds and still be lengths behind Churchill. Lancaster Bomber, for all that he controlled the pace from the front at Newmarket, is more likely to chase him home but I'm not sure what good that does you as a punter.

Tattersalls Gold Cup

Aidan O'Brien has six entries for this Group 1 over the extended 1o furlongs and all bar Johannes Vermeer would be favourite if they ran. Minding seems the most likely runner and it is hard to oppose one of the best fillies of recent years. Her price of around 2.767/4 for the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Ascot will likely come under pressure should she win on Sunday as punters realise that Almanzor is unlikely to make that race.

1,000 Guineas

There is a certain appeal in backing one of the Irish trial winners like Rehana or Bean Feasa each-way but it looks as if both of those are running for a place at best; neither of the races they won were strongly contested and Winter beat them both on her seasonal return. Furthermore, Winter would have more improvement in her she is relatively new addition to Ballydoyle. It could also be argued that while Rhododendron got all the trouble in Newmarket Winter was in front a long way out and can be rated slightly better than the form.

I suggested backing both Hydrangea and Intricately for the English 1,000 Guineas where both ran deplorably and it is hard to forgive those efforts for all that some softer ground would suit the latter. Two of the more intriguing runners are the returners Making Light and Aneen but it is very difficult to win a race like this without a run and the former is returning from a setback,

The Derby

While this weekend's features provide little betting interest, there is a horse worth getting in the book for the Derby on Saturday week. One can see the case for Cliffs Of Moher improving markedly from the Dee Stakes but his trainer's comments about his needing the run there are now heavily factored into the betting and Eminent stands out as the value around 9.08/1 currently.

More than anything, he has the best piece of form on offer by dint of his Craven Stakes win from Rivet who has since franked it with a decent run in France. The 2,000 Guineas was a strong renewal but didn't show Eminent to best effect; it wasn't so much the trouble he met late on but the lack of pace that didn't test his stamina. Eminent definitely looks in need of 10 furlongs and while the mile and half remains a slight doubt, I would rather have his proven ability on side than back one with has stamina but likely lacks class. That he had a spin around the track at Tuesday's Breakfast with the Star is no negative and he's one that could easily go off shorter on the day.

Recommended Bets:
Back Eminent @ 9.08/1 for the Epsom Derby

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