Without wanting to sound xenophobic in any way, the Irish Guineas weekend isn’t met with quite the same fervour as its UK cousin, and that’s a shame as it is always a decent festival of racing over at Curragh. A quality field will meet for both the Irish 2000 Guineas on Saturday May 27 (of which Churchill is a worthy 4/11 favourite) and Sunday’s Irish 2000 Guineas, which from a punter’s perspective looks far more alluring.
There’s an excellent favourite in Winter who will take some stopping, but the supporting cast is packed with more than capable sorts who could cause an upset on the day: Rehana, Hydrangea and Brave Anna being just three options.
This should be a high quality showing of flat racing, and with warm temperatures expected across the UK and Ireland this weekend it could be run in a super quick time too. Blink and you might miss it!
No Winter of Discontent for O’Brien
As one of the most decorated trainers in racing history, it’s no surprise to see Aidan O’Brien again well fancied to land a major trophy. He lines up Winter, the bookies’ favourite at around 4/5, and it has to be said it is a worthy odds-on price.
What you find in these races featuring three-year-olds is that there isn’t a wealth of experience in the field, and actually Winter – with five previous runs to her name – is one of the more well tested in the mix.
Since joining the O’Brien yard at the start of 2017 she has been set loose twice: triumphing in the 1000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket in May after losing by a head to Hydrangea in the 100 Guineas Trial Stakes in April.
Those solid runs came on firm ground in May after a yielding trip a month earlier, and so the indication is that Winter is a solid runner who is comfortable on all surfaces – a sure sign of a quality campaigner.
The O’Brien-Magnier link-up has produced stacks of classic winners in the past, and there’s every suggestion that Winter can enter the fray this weekend.
An Underdog Story
There is just enough about Hydrangea to suggest she is better than her 9/1 quotes here. She’s beaten Winter and Rehana already this season, admittedly on softer ground, but if this heatwave that is being predicted does not arise then the going at Curragh is still likely to be a little spongy after the deluge of the past week or so.
Clearly the fact that she has only won two of her eight starts to date will be enough to put some punters, as will the fact that she finished tenth in her last outing in the 1000 Guineas Stakes. But in that renewal she led during the early stages but simply could not maintain that pace after a pretty uncompromising ride from Padraig Beggy, and so her connections will know how to better handle her on faster going this time out.
There is prior history of O’Brien-Magnier winning big races with their second or third choice entrant, and while Winter will take most of the plaudits from Irish racegoers it might well prove to be that Hydrangea offers the supreme betting value at an agreeable each way mark.