McCreery and McDonogh combine to try and break classic duck with Vespertilio in Sunday’s 1,000 Guineas

Mercurial Auguste Rodin bids to bounce back from latest big-race flop in Curragh’s Tattersalls Gold Cup

Willie McCreery came within an ace of All-Ireland success as a Kildare footballer but has a shot at scooping racing’s classic jackpot in Sunday’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

The local trainer will leg former champion jockey Declan McDonogh on to Vespertilio for the €500,000 highlight with each of them hoping to secure hugely popular classic successes for the first time.

McDonogh, 44, has experienced multiple Group One victories, including on Rebelline in the Tattersalls Gold Cup 22 years ago. Just four years later he was crowned champion jockey. But classics have remained elusive.

McCreery has secured top-flight victory through Fiesolana in the Matron Stakes a decade ago.


It came just half-a-dozen years after starting to train horses on the back of a lauded GAA career when he was part of the Kildare team that landed a first Leinster championship in 42 years in 1998. Ultimately, Galway proved too good in that year’s All-Ireland final.

Vespertilio found only Fallen Angel too good in last year’s Moyglare and looked to have progressed over the winter by finishing third in the French 1,000 Guineas a fortnight ago. Despite a wide trip around Longchamp, she was beaten just a neck and a head into third. She has a better draw this time.

Billy Lee opting for Purple Lily from Paddy Twomey’s pair of Guineas hopefuls underlines the potential for multiple significant classic breakthroughs in a 14-runner classic with one big imponderable.

Aidan O’Brien’s four-strong team includes the supplemented Everlasting but if Opera Singer has trained on from a spectacular performance in last October’s Boussac in Paris, then everything else may be playing for minor money.

A setback in the Spring meant the daughter of Justify missed Newmarket but she’s now getting her classic shot with Ryan Moore remaining loyal.

Another imponderable is what side of the bed Auguste Rodin gets up on Sunday. Brilliant in four top-flight wins as a three-year-old, he nevertheless also put in the third appalling performance of his career on a very underwhelming return to action in Meydan in March.

At his best, and against mostly Group Two opposition, the Tattersalls Gold Cup should be a relatively straightforward task for a big if mercurial talent.

Rogue Millennium has a first start for Joseph O’Brien in the Group Two contest for fillies and a repeat of her effort when runner-up to Tahiyra in last year’s Matron should make her very hard to beat.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column