Native Trail in line to secure notable hat-trick for Godolphin Racing

Rachael Blackmore teams up with Kemboy in the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil in Paris

Ireland's 2022 Classic season starts at the Curragh this weekend with Native Trail in line to secure a notable hat-trick for Godolphin in Saturday's Tattersalls Irish 2, 000 Guineas.

Following Guineas wins in England (Coroebus) and France (Modern Games) already this season, Sheikh Mohammed's team has a clean sweep of Europe's prestigious top mile colts classics in their sights.

Native Trial, runner-up to his stable companion Coroebus at Newmarket, is likely to start an odds-on favourite to overcome eight rivals in the €500,000 feature.

It is 20 years since Aidan O'Brien pulled off the Guineas hat-trick after Rock Of Gibraltar emerged best at Newmarket and the Curragh, while Landseer scored in Longchamp.


The resurgence in fortunes of Coolmore’s great superpower rivals will be underlined further should a similar feat occur now and with three different horses.

Native Trail could emerge as an overwhelming favourite but Sunday’s 1,000 Guineas looks a much more open affair.

Homeless Songs has topped some ante-post betting lists to give her trainer Dermot Weld a 20th Curragh Classic, four decades to the day after first scoring in the fillies' race with Prince's Polly.

However, she is up against a quartet of O’Brien rivals topped by Tuesday as the Ballydoyle trainer pursues an 11th 1,000 Guineas success.

Greatest prizes

Weld and O'Brien's status as Curragh Classic fixtures is very different to Henry De Bromhead, who will try his luck at Group One level through Star Girls Aalmal in the 1,000 Guineas.

The man who has dominated National Hunt racing's greatest prizes in recent seasons has got Billy Lee to ride.

“It might be an ambitious plan but we said we’d give it a go and see how she gets on,” said De Bromhead on Friday of his Gowran winner.

With a third Group One up for grabs in Sunday's Tattersalls Gold Cup it is a top-flight programme open for everyone to attend at HQ for the first time since 2019.

Having got over the pandemic, Curragh officials under new chief executive Brian Kavanagh are particularly focussing their attention on drawing local people to the track.

The Curragh's controversial €81.2 million revamped facility has been plagued with problems since reopening three years ago, but finally gets a clear-run at securing a slot in public affections. Free shuttle-bus services are available from both Newbridge and Kildare. Also operational is a new direct Expressway service from Dublin to the Curragh.

Ante-post odds of as low as 1-3 about Native Trail suggest racegoers may witness a Classic coronation rather than a contest.

Europe’s champion two-year-old in 2021 lost his unbeaten record to Coroebus at Newmarket but little else as he went down fighting by less than length.

There is an argument he was unlucky to have been drawn on the “wrong” side of the Rowley Mile, just as his rivals on Saturday can argue the prospect of some ease in the going gives them hope.

Impressive style

Joseph O’Brien’s Buckaroo won the Tetrarch in impressive style with give in the ground and could book his place in the Derby in a fortnight with a good display here.

Native Trail has not run on soft ground before. But as a son of Oasis Dream he must have every chance of coping with it on a track in which he put up his most impressive display to date in the National Stakes last year.

Wayne Lordan is on the apparent Ballydoyle third-string in the 1,000 Guineas but there are plenty form lines when it comes to the rider upsetting the pecking order.

Hermosa (2019) and Winter (2017) both won the English 1,000 under Lordan and he could be on Sunday's value option in Concert Hall.

The daughter of Oaks winner Was scored over10 furlongs on her reappearance, but O’Brien hasn’t hesitated to bring her back to a mile.

Tuesday was third to Cachet at Newmarket, and is Ryan Moore’s pick for a contest in which the €2 million purchase Purpleplay is one of a pair of cross-channel raiders.

There is no Godolphin runner in the 1,000 but as a daughter of Sheikh Mohammed’s prepotent stallion Dubawi, Concert Hall could prove an apt winner in the circumstances.

Frankie Dettori's sole weekend mount is Lord North in the Tatts Gold Cup where the gelding is joint top rated on 120 with State of Rest.

The latter transferred his global Group 1 form closer to home with victory in last month's Prix Ganay. State of Rest looks a leading player against seven rivals that include last season's Guineas hero Mac Swiney.


If Henry De Bromhead's focus is on the classics then his ally Rachael Blackmore will be in action on more familiar ground.

Having completed the Champion Hurdle-Gold Cup double at Cheltenham in March, the Irish jockey will try to pull off a similar feat in Paris this weekend.

Blackmore teams up with Kemboy, one of three Willie Mullins runners in Saturday's €350,000 Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil.

Klassical Dream (Paul Townend) and the King George winner Tornado Flyer (Danny Mullins) will also try to give Mullins a sixth win in the French Champion Hurdle due off at 4pm Irish-time and live on Sky Racing.

Mullins also has a trio in Sunday’s Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, France’s version of the Gold Cup. No overseas runner has won the €820,000 feature since Mandarin 60 years ago.

Blackmore's mount Burrows Saint will be joined in the 16-runner race off at 3pm by both Franco De Port and the former dual-Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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