Aidan O’Brien is in pursuit of a 10th Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas victory – and a 33rd Irish classic in all – but it is Gleneagles’ prohibitive 1/3 odds
for this Saturday which is the figure focusing most minds ahead of the Curragh’s first Group One weekend of 2015.
Even though just two of O’Brien’s previous winners – Rock Of Gibraltar (2002) and Henrythenavigator (2008) – have completed the Newmarket-Curragh Guineas double, Paddy Power strongly fancies Gleneagles to become just the eighth colt to pull it off.
Ahead of Tuesday’s vital five-day declaration stage for a bumper group weekend line up that also includes the Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Tattersalls Gold Cup on Sunday, it is Richard Hannon’s Ivawood, third at Newmarket, three lengths behind Gleneagles, who is rated the main danger at 4/1. Godolphin’s Dewhurst Stakes winner Belardo is rated next best at 10-1.
Even a 10th victory won’t make the 2,000 Guineas O’Brien’s most lucrative Irish classic, with the Derby falling to the Ballyodyle trainer an astonishing 11 times already. He has also won the 1,000 Guineas on half a dozen occasions and is likely to have a leading contender this weekend too in Found.
Target The Tattersalls Gold Cup is the target for last season’s leading three-year-old The Grey Gatsby, who famously denied Australia in his last trip to Ireland in the Irish Champion Stakes.
Dermot Weld’s Free Eagle is also a likely starter for the €250,000 Group One, which is also a possible target for the Ballydoyle star Tapestry.
A forecast drier second half to this week will be good news to The Grey Gatsby's trainer Kevin Ryan, who reported: "The thing is if the ground was soft there [a the Curragh], we wouldn't go. Good or good to soft is fine though."
The Curragh manager Paul Hensey reported the going at HQ to be currently "good to yielding" and is anticipated similar conditions for the weekend action.
“There are showers expected but it’s supposed to improve later in the week so I would imagine we will be there or thereabouts where we are at the moment,” he said.
“It’s hard to know exactly with showers about and what drying we get, but it shouldn’t be far from that.”
Hensey confirmed that Roger Varian plans to send Belardo for the 2,000 Guineas and added: "We're not sure yet which of Richard Hannon's will come. The Al Shaqab horse that ran in the Guineas [Moheet] could run. Kool Kompany likes the Curragh so he could come, and obviously the horse that was third at Newmarket may run too.
"The Tattersalls Gold Cup looks like being a great race. Luca Cumani is sending Postponed, Roger Charlton is sending Al Kazeem [the 2013 Tattersalls winner] and The Grey Gatsby is coming too."
One of the leading 1,000 Guineas contenders looks like being Jessica Harrington’s Bocca Baciata, whose form in winning the Listed Salsabil Stakes victory at Navan last month has been repeatedly boosted since then.