16/1 Irish Guineas Pick: Ante-post analysis

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Well, last week’s ante-post analysis turned out to be a profitable one, something that is always brilliant.

THE FOXES delivered in the Dante Stakes at 13/2 to put readers in clover with CLARENDON HOUSE just missing out of the places and SILVER SWORD a late non-runner from the London Gold Cup.

And despite a frustrating week for The Top Three article (more on that this Friday), we are heading full steam ahead into a regular week of good racing on the weekend with the Irish Guineas meeting at the Curragh taking centre stage.

So, let’s dive into my early ante-post interests.

O’Brien masterclass… again? 

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It’s been six years since Aidan O’Brien has won the Irish 2000 Guineas, a stat that comes as a surprise considering the firepower the master of Ballydoyle usually has at his disposal.

And it’s not like it has been through a lack of trying as the master trainer has sent 18 horses to the one-mile Curragh contest since Churchill’s win in 2017, with the most (6) coming in 2020 and the least (1) occurring last season.

That stat does make you wonder why O’Brien is sending fewer horses to the first Classic of the Irish Flat season. It could be a change of tactics employed by Ballydoyle to only send ones with winning chances and the drop in regularity of pacemakers in these Group 1 contests over the last few seasons, or the effects of Galileo’s progeny production winding down before he passed away in 2021 could be accountable for this.

However, it seems like we could see a couple more runners for O’Brien in this year’s renewal with Paddington, Age Of Kings, and Cairo all still in the race at the time of writing (Wednesday), but it is the latter who has caught my eye.

By Quality Road, a four-time Grade 1 winner in the US at one-mile plus, out of a Galileo mare called Cuff, who won a Listed contest at six furlongs and is a full sister to Mars, Gustav Klimt, and Friendly, Cairo looks to have a pedigree that is promising and should suit the one-mile test well having already won at that trip twice.

If you can forgive the three-year-old’s last run in the UAE Derby over nine-and-a-half furlongs, his two-length win at Dundalk was one with plenty of promise to build on his impressive victory at the end of last season in the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes.

The interesting thing about his Dundalk win is that Ryan Moore came over for the ride in early March and has only ever ridden at the track 16 times, winning on 10 of those occasions, so that would potentially suggest that he comes over for the useful horses.

With all of this brought together, the 12/1 with William Hill is one that looks like a good price to me and I will be backing CAIRO for the Irish 2000 Guineas.

Able to Silence favourite backers 

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Although the 2000 Guineas is a tough problem to work out, the Fillies’ equivalent could be cut and dry.

Tahiyra was second in the Newmarket Guineas to a very good Mawj, pulled a long way clear of the rest, and could theoretically come on for the run.

So this is simple, right? Well, there could be a bit more under the surface to discover.

Firstly, she won’t be getting her soft ground conditions that she has received on her last two starts. This isn’t too much of a worry because she won on good to yielding on debut and her pedigree would say that good ground should be fine.

Secondly, I have a small concern about why she didn’t pass Mawj last time out. She looked for all the world like she would glide by without any hindrance, however, she slightly hung her head into the winner and looked a small bit reluctant to move past.

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And thirdly, that Guineas was run in attritional conditions and would have been a very, very hard race for a horse who was making their first start for eight months. Having received just a 21-day break, the bounce factor is a possibility.

Can I see Tahiyra winning? Absolutely. Will I be backing her at 4/7? No, and I have an angle to take her on with.

I’m going with a similar form line to the odds-on favourite as the ETERNAL SILENCE, third in the Moyglare Stakes behind Dermot Weld’s filly, is an exciting bet at 16/1 with William Hill.

If you analyse her last run at the Curragh, Shane Foley was keen to drop her to the rear of the pack to try and settle this daughter of War Front into the race.

That does occur and when she gets a clear route to the finish, Foley kicks for home and finishes best of the rest behind Tahiyra and Meditate, staying on over the seven-furlong trip.

The step back up to a mile for the Irish 1000 Guineas, a distance she was third over two starts ago, should suit and on pedigree, she should be a better three-year-old as her dam, Princess Highway, won the 2012 Ribblesdale as a three-year-old.

I’m hoping to see some improvement, which is required, but she looks to have the scope to do so.

As mentioned on the recent Only Fools Love Horses video, her at 16/1 and Meditate at 7/1 will be the two plays for me, with the case for the latter being a return to front-running tactics and better ground could see her reverse the Newmarket and Curragh form with Tahiyra.

So, the 4/7 favourite is one I am taking on. Am I making a rod for my own back? Most probably. Do I have an issue with that? No, who doesn’t love taking a bit of an exciting risk?

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