It’s Irish Guineas weekend in Ireland and it promises to be another exciting few days of racing. Aidan O’Brien will be hoping for a big weekend with plenty of runners going to post and four of them lining up in our feature race, the 2000 Guineas.
O’Brien, who is this races most decorated trainer with 11 wins, won last year’s renewal with the talented Churchill and there’s no doubt he will be keen to add to his tally on Saturday.
The race itself is taking place at the Curragh and is ran over a mile. The ground is currently Good and doesn’t seem likely to change before Saturday. Plenty go to post with a chance of winning so we’ve gone through the field and identified our potential picks.
Gustav Klimt 7/2
The first of the Aidan O’Brien trained runners is the son of Galileo and finished 6th in the English 2000 Guineas, where he travelled relatively well but failed to quicken in the final furlong. Connections would have been disappointed with the run, especially after his impressive seasonal bow where he beat the talented Imaging. It is possible that he might bounce back here but with Donnacha O’Brien on board he looks like the stable’s second choice.
At 7/2 currently, he is a bit short considering some of the other talent lining up beside him.
US Navy Flag 3/1
The most experienced 3-year-old in the field by some distance, US Navy Flag comes here with a big chance. He appears to be Aidan O’Brien’s first choice, with number one jockey Ryan Moore taking the ride. Moore being in the plate is a tip in itself for most people, as Ballydoyle are never far away when it comes to big races.
When you consider some of this horse’s previous runs it makes for interesting reading. He put in some fantastic displays last season, especially at Newmarket when he beat Mendelsshon in a Group 1. However, this season’s two runs have been less than impressive; he was easily beaten by Gustav Klimt at Leopardstown and suffered a disappointing fifth over in France.
The ground at Leopardstown was very heavy and a stumble 3 furlongs out in France could both explain the poor runs. A return to form is plausible here, as long as US Navy Flag avoids any stumbles and enjoys good ground.
With Moore setting the fractions up front he could be hard to peg back.
The Fozzy Stack trained 3-year-old is unbeaten in his three starts to date and comes here with that unexposed profile that a lot of punters love. Zibha was recently purchased by Al Shaqab after his most recent and most impressive win, and he certainly looks like the each way gamble of the race.
He’s been heavily backed all week and is now down at 8/1. Rated 108, he does have a lot to find but vibes from the trainer suggest he may just be capable of mixing it at this level.
Chris Hayes is in the saddle and having won this race in 2016 on Awtaad, it is another positive for this lightly raced colt. It would be a great story if he were to win but placing in the top three would be a massive result for all involved.
Trainer Mark Johnstone will have all fingers and toes crossed that he has the winner of this year’s Irish 2000 Guineas in the form of the talented Elarqam. The horse finished 4th in the English version on only his third career start and showcased a run full of promise.
Connections really thought before the race that they had the winner that day but when they watched the run back I’m sure they’d have been delighted with the performance. He travelled well and picked up when asked but may have just lacked some experience.
Jim Crowley will be hoping for a nice tow into the race and then pounce when the time is right. We tipped Saxon Warrior to win the English Guineas but this horse was next on the list. He tops our list for this race and is our main selection. As long as he doesn’t let US Navy Flag get to far away we’ll hopefully see him pick it up in the final furlong and surge home with an impressive display.
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