is warm favourite to become just the ninth colt to complete the
double on Saturday, with the shape of his likely opposition set to become more clear after
today’s forfeit stage for the Curragh’s first classic weekend of 2016.
The Tattersalls-sponsored triple-Group 1 weekend sees Aidan O’Brien supply two fillies in Ballydoyle and Found that are odds-on ante-post favourites for the 1,000 Guineas and Gold Cup respectively on Sunday.
However, it is the likely make-up of the champion trainer’s attempt on an 11th success in the 2,000 Guineas that will attract a lot of interest, with the option of supplementing into the colts classic at a cost of €30,000 still open.
The Gurkha produced an outstanding display after being supplemented into last Sunday’s French Guineas at Deauville and while last year’s champion juvenile, Air Force Blue, is currently a 3-1 second favourite to Galileo Gold (7-4) in most lists, the make-up of O’Brien’s challenge has yet to be finalised.
Speculation over plans for the Newmarket 1,000 Guineas heroine, Minding, means she is as low as 2-5 “with a run” for Sunday’s fillies’ classic at HQ while still a 2-1 favourite in straight betting with Paddy Power for the Derby.
However, Ballydoyle, runner-up to Minding at Newmarket, is 4-5 in most lists for Sunday’s 1,000 Guineas with Qatar Racing’s recent purchase, Now Or Never, a 4-1 shot. If O’Brien wins the race for a seventh time, he will equal Hubert Hartigan’s record tally accumulated between 1928 and 1954.
The 1,000 Guineas is the sole blank on Frankie Dettori's classic CV in Ireland but the Italian superstar has twice won the 2,000 – on Bachir and Dubawi – and is set to again team up with Galileo Gold, although there is uncertainty about weekend ground conditions for the Curragh.
"At the moment we are good to firm on the round course, and on the quick side of good on the straight. But on the basis of the weather forecast we will wait and monitor things in terms of watering. The forecast is unsettled and we're looking at likely rain towards the latter part of the week," said course spokesman Paul Hensey.
English trainer Roger Charlton twice won the Tattersalls Gold Cup with Al Kazeem (2013 and 2015) and will be keeping his fingers crossed that ground conditions don't get too soft at the Curragh for his impressive Royal Ascot winner, Time Test.
“As long as the ground is on the quick side, ideally, he will be there on Sunday,” Charlton said.
“We flirted with running him at a mile, and we entered him in the Lockinge, but we know he was impressive when he won at Ascot last year so clearly he stays a mile and a quarter well.
“We’re looking forward to taking on Found. I expect he will improve for the race, but hopefully it will be a long season for him with Royal Ascot the main target.”
can look forward to being part of a typically strong
1 challenge this weekend but the in-form jockey can maintain his momentum with another success at Killarney this evening aboard the dual-Dundalk winner,
Long Island Sound
That one's stable companion, Monarch, was behind Vocal Experience on his Limerick debut last month but can reverse the form with the benefit of that experience in the opening mile maiden.
Tommy Stack's team are traditionally always a force at the Kerry meetings, and Love Rosie could be one to check out in the second division of the mile handicap considering her good run behind Roca Rojo at this festival a year ago.
Edward O'Grady's string have been in good form recently, and the trainer has engaged Kieren Fallon for the topweight Le Vagabond in the 11-furlong handicap.
This French import bounced off quick ground to win a hurdle at Tramore and won two of his five starts on the flat in his native France.