As flat season kicks into top gear, Betfred Derby Weekend is almost upon us.
Before that however, all eyes on are on The Curragh this weekend for Irish Guineas Festival.
With Saturday’s race the headline act, Sunday then sees two elite Group 1 contests with both the Tattersalls Gold Cup and the Irish 1000 Guineas.
Once again we’ve taken a broad look at the runners and riders in County Kildare and picked a favourite and a longer-value outsider to consider.
Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas (Saturday, 15:40, 1m)
Favourite: Taking on both the runner-up and third-placed finisher of the 2000 Guineas in Hi Royal and Royal Scotsman is no mean feat.
However, we are backing Aidan O’Brien stock in Paddington to take the winning post.
A trainer with no less than 11 winners in this race, the 53-year-old from County Wexford last won with Ryan Moore aboard Guineas double-winner Churchill in 2017.
Paddington comes into this with three wins on the trot after coming fifth on debut at Ascot last September.
Not only that, but the son of Siyouni loves The Curragh – not marmalade sandwiches, allegedly – with a 100% record in County Kildare and on Irish turf more widely.
Having drifted out to 9/2 with BoyleSports, Paddington could still be a smart bet.
Outsider: Charyn looks an interesting punt to do well at a price.
Having come eighth at 66/1 in the 2000 Guineas, the Irish colt faded over the final furlongs after a prominent showing.
Yet, a runner-up at Newbury last month, Charyn has shown the pace for the field even if the final yards prove an issue.
We feel Newmarket could be a valuable learning curve for Roger Varian‘s ride however, and with two career wins to date, might be e/w value at 20/1 with William Hill.
Tattersalls Gold Cup (Sunday, 14:45, 1m2½f)
Favourite: After Adayar pulled out to focus on Royal Ascot, his defeated foe from the Gordon Richards Stakes, Anmaat, looks to have a clear ride here. Or does he?
Bay Bridge could just upset the applecart.
Taken down a peg with a loss to State of Rest in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes 11 months back, the 5yo beat Adayar in the Champion Stakes at the back end of last term’s flat season.
This, like many names this weekend will be an Irish debut for the colt who was formerly rated in the top five horses in the world – alongside the likes of Baaeed and Nature Strip.
Having previously gone unbeaten in five between 2021 and last year’s surprise loss at Royal Ascot, Bay Bridge looks ready for Sir Michael Stoute – a winner previously with Opera House and Notnowcato.
Keen to stake his claim for a unprecedented Berkshire double in less than a month’s time, at around 3/1, is a price that could be profitable.
Outsider: For a longer shot however, we turn again to A P O’Brien and the in-form Point Lonsdale.
Fresh from a win in the Huxley at Chester earlier this month, Ryan Moore looks poised once more.
Ridden to victory by Wayne Lordan here last month, the horse beaten only once in four trips to The Curragh – by Native Trail no less – has to be a strong consideration.
Given his start to the campaign and having shown his ability to cut through a field at the same trip, Point Lonsdale could be a heavyweight punt at weighty 12/1 (consult bookies nearer race time.)
Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas (Sunday, 15:50, 1m)
Favourite: As the ladies take their turn at The Curragh on Sunday, Tahiyra looks the cream of the crop.
Set to renew rivalries with Meditate from the Moyglare last Autumn on this very track, the filly may have been the beaten favourite to Mawj on the Rowley Mile, but is gunning for a second home classic win.
An impressive debut winner at Galway, her Aga Khan owner will be keen for a return to winning ways.
That looks a good thing at as short as 8/15 with Betfred. Possibly the NAP of the weekend.
Outsider: For our third and final dash at a big priced hopeful, Breege gets the nod.
As the British rookie makes her Irish debut after a French pilgrimage at Longchamp in the Prix Marcel Boussac last time out in October, could the youngster make a impact on season debut?
Third to Lezoo in the Keeneland Stakes last July, Breege has shown calibre but will a step-up in trip prove taxing?
In any event, having finished third at worst in all four UK turf rides, could the Brit raider steal in for another place at 33/1 with 888Sport?