Curragh hopeful of getting the go-ahead

British raiding party set for Lincolnshire

Aidan O’Brien: post-race workouts may not proceed as planned at the Curragh

Aidan O’Brien: post-race workouts may not proceed as planned at the Curragh


The opening of the turf flat season may occupy its usual post-Cheltenham/pre-Grand National “twilight zone” in the calendar but this weekend it is the Curragh that hosts Irish racing’s only bright spot.

Using the “bright” in the midst of the terrible weather conditions that have hit the country is a relative term though and ground conditions at HQ are sure to be testing tomorrow.

So testing in fact that the Curragh authorities may yet have to consult with Aidan O’Brien to see if the by-now traditional post-racing workouts by some of the champion trainer’s brightest Group One prospects for the season ahead will proceed as planned.

“Earlier in the week Aidan indicated he was going to bring his best horses for a day out but it is very much ground dependant. Things may change depending on what the weather does,” Curragh manager Paul Hensey said yesterday. What the weather already appears to have done is spare the Curragh the worst of the torrential rainfall that hit Dublin and other neighbouring areas yesterday.

Although Leopardstown got over an inch of rain by yesterday morning, the Curragh got off comparatively lightly with less than 5mms. Last evening Met Éireann were telling the racecourse authorities they could expect up to 8mms overnight before conditions improve for the weekend.

“If we get that, it would turn things heavy here but not to the extent we would be in danger,” Hensey said. “It’s very much a case of fingers crossed, but we are very hopeful about going ahead.”

Ferry crossing
Richard Fahey and Tom Dascombe, trainers of the cross-channel hopes, Our Boy Jack and Anton Chigurh, will hope their horses’ scheduled ferry crossing last night was uneventful ahead of a tilt at the €100,000 BetVictor Irish Lincolnshire. The mile highlight has remained resolutely resistant to overseas success but Anton Chigurh could be one to change that.

 Dascombe’s four-year-old won his final two starts last year, at Haydock and Carlisle, both on soft ground, and at Haydock managed to overcome trouble in running in a decent contest. He looks a type to improve significantly at four and Dascombe’s decision to travel him to Ireland first time out in 2013 looks significant.

 Dermot Weld runs Tandem in the Lincolnshire rather than the Lincoln at Doncaster, hardly a surprise considering the uncertainty around the English meeting. It will be interesting to see how the Juddmonte runner fares now that he is dropped to a mile again but the local trainer’s best chances can come elsewhere.

Along with his fellow Curragh trainers, Weld has been unable to use the grass gallops at HQ due to the wet weather but even allowing for that Yellow Rosebud is rated clear of her four rivals in the Park Express Stakes, the first Group contest of 2013 in Ireland. Weld can also score in the seven furlong handicap with Muaanid who should relish the step back up in trip after finishing third in last October’s Birdcatcher

Fitness levels
The early season fitness levels of O’Brien’s hugely-powerful Ballydoyle team will determine a lot and he gives the Derby entry Piet Mondrian a run in the mile maiden. The colt from the family of Aussie Rules was running on well behind Zand on his sole spin to date. It is encouraging that O’Brien has struck already this month on the all-weather at Dundalk.

 Dawn Approach ’s 2012 victory in the first two-year-old contest of the season means there will be extra interest in tomorrow’s contest where the classic favourite’s stable companion Saburo carries Sheikh Mohammed’s colours.