Curragh all set for return of the Classics

The Curragh Racecourse is primed for the return of Group 1 racing this weekend with the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas taking centre stage on Saturday and on Sunday both the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup and the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas have also attracted quality declarations.
The Mark Johnston-trained Elarqam heads the line up for the 2,000 Guineas tomorrow. Hamdan Al Maktoum’s regally bred colt is a son of Frankel and Elarqam’s dam is 2004 Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Attraction and he will face 10 rivals.
Fozzy Stack’s impressive colt Zihba will put his unbeaten record on the line and make his first start in the colours of Al Shaqab Racing having been purchased since his victory at Leopardstown earlier in the month.
Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien will saddle four runners in the opening Classic of the season with Ryan Moore opting for U S Navy Flag and English 2,000 Guineas winning jockey Donnacha O’Brien riding Gustav Klimt.
A final field of 13 were declared this morning for Sunday’s Tattersalls 1,000 Guineas with O’Brien holding a strong hand in the race. The master of Ballydoyle is responsible for four of the runners in Sunday’s showpiece with Group 1 winners Clemmie and Happily leading his quartet.
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby will go in search of a first European Classic when sending over Soliloquy and trainer Johnny Murtagh, successful in the race as a jockey aboard Again in 2009, will attempt to land the 1,000 Guineas as a trainer with Qatar Racing’s Lightening Quick who recently joined Murtagh from Ger Lyons.
Lyons will be represented in the race having supplemented his dual 1,000 Guineas Trial winner Who’s Steph who made a winning start for owner George Strawbridge at Leopardstown earlier this month, while Jessica Harrington’s impressive filly Alpha Centauri is another interesting contender.
Lyons commented; “As Mr Strawbridge said ‘There is only one Guineas so let her run in it and take her chance’ and that is why we are in the game. Who’s Steph is certainly good enough to take her chance. Off her current rating she is still shy of a Guineas horse and she’ll have to improve but at this moment in time you would like to think that she has the ability to finish in the first four and after that is a bonus.”
The Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup has attracted one of the highest older horses in training with Defoe looking to continue his winning sequence for trainer Roger Varian. The seven-time winner will be trying to continue the good record of British-trained runners in the Tattersalls Gold Cup but he’ll face stiff opposition from Aidan O’Brien’s duo of Cliffs Of Moher and Lancaster Bomber. The Ken Condon-trained Success Days and Reckless Gold for trainer Joseph O’Brien have also been declared.
“We were happy with Cliffs Of Moher at Naas last time and he came home really well that day. The Tattersalls Gold Cup looked a logical next race for him so we are looking forward to running him,” O’Brien said.
A very promising group of two-year-olds will do battle for the Cold Move Irish EBF Marble Hill Stakes on Saturday. Aidan O’Brien’s trio of Land Force, Van Beethoven and Fairyland will line up against the Michael O’Callaghan pair of Evasive Power and Recon Mission.
Recent Curragh victor Ardhoomey will look for more success at HQ in the Group 2 Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes which has also attracted William Haggas’ talented sprinter, Tasleet.
Also on Saturday’s stellar card Jim Bolger’s unbeaten filly Goldrush will try to make it four wins from four starts when the well bred daughter of Frankel faces five rivals in the Group 2 Lanwades Stud Stakes.  

© 2009 All rights reserved.