Timeform's John Ingles previews the pattern races on Saturday's Curragh card featuring the Irish 2000 Guineas.
"Churchill stepped up on his two-year-old form to make it six wins in a row on his return at Newmarket."
For the third year running the winner of the 2000 Guineas will bid to do the double in the Irish version at the Curragh. It was a task that proved beyond Galileo Gold last year when he was beaten by Awtaad in Ireland but in 2015 Gleneagles became the eighth horse to win both races. In so doing, he took Aidan O'Brien's tally of Irish 2000 Guineas winners to ten and was the third of those - after Rock of Gibraltar and Henrythenavigator - to have won at Newmarket beforehand.
O'Brien's latest 2000 Guineas winner Churchill looks impossible to oppose as he faces just five rivals in his attempt to follow in their footsteps. Churchill stepped up on his two-year-old form to make it six wins in a row on his return at Newmarket when running out a very determined winner from Barney Roy and Al Wukair who had been impressive in their trials. Churchill doesn't have that pair to worry about this time, and while open to further improvement, it's quite possible that he won't even have to run up to his Newmarket form to follow up at the Curragh where he's joined by stable-companions Lancaster Bomber and Spirit of Valor who were behind him in the 2000 Guineas. Lancaster Bomber fared the better of that pair in fourth, effectively acting as Churchill's pacemaker again as he had in the Dewhurst the previous autumn when beaten a similar distance behind Churchill in second.
Thunder Snow could be the one to chase him home. They've met before, when Thunder Snow finished fourth in the Dewhurst, but the Godolphin colt has gone on to better things since, winning the Criterium International in France by five lengths on his final start last season and returning with wins on dirt in Dubai in the UAE 2000 Guineas and Derby - in the latter contest he had Lancaster Bomber and Spirit of Valor among his rivals. Thunder Snow would doubtless be a shorter price but for his puzzling antics in the Kentucky Derby last time when he behaved as though he'd been sent to the States for a rodeo rather than their top three-year-old race, leaving his rider Christophe Soumillon with no option but to pull up him after he came out of the stalls bucking and kicking.
The other two colts in the field have a lot to find to trouble Churchill but both are lightly raced and open to more improvement. Ger Lyons' Glastonbury Song's two wins have both come at Dundalk, where he was a ready winner of a four-runner minor event last month, but Michael Halford's Irishcorrespondent looks the more interesting of this pair. He followed an impressive winning debut at Leopardstown with another taking success in a minor event at the Curragh a fortnight ago, forging clear under hands and heels. A lot more is required to win here, but he's certainly got place prospects.
O'Brien also has a good chance of landing the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes over six furlongs later on the card with the filly Acapulco. Formerly trained by Wesley Ward in America, for whom she won the Queen Mary Stakes at two, she made a successful debut for Ballydoyle in a listed race at the Curragh earlier this month. Among her chief rivals are last year's July Cup runner-up Suedois, still seeking a first win since joining David O'Meara from France, and Blue de Vega, third in the Irish 2000 Guineas on this card a year ago, who drops to a sprint trip for the first time. Mobsta won this for Mick Channon last year but conditions are unlikely to be as soft as he wants this time.
The other Group 2 contest on the card is the Lanwades Stud Stakes for older fillies and mares over a mile. Dermot Weld's Raymonda has had very little racing for a four-year-old and if improving again for her second in the Amethyst Stakes at Leopardstown on her reappearance, she could prove too strong for Turret Rocks, winner of the Blue Wind Stakes here over another couple of furlongs two weeks ago, and last month's Gladness Stakes winner Diamond Fields.