Shelir primed to deliver Aga Khan first Curragh Guineas success

Despite good to firm ground conditions at present colt ‘will take his chance anyway’

Trainer Dermot Weld: ‘It is quick but there is some rain forecast in the middle of the week and any little bit that comes will be welcome.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Trainer Dermot Weld: ‘It is quick but there is some rain forecast in the middle of the week and any little bit that comes will be welcome.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Shelir will put his unbeaten record on the line and try to provide his owner the Aga Khan with a first Irish Guineas success at the Curragh on Saturday.

The renowned owner-breeder has 10 Curragh classic victories to his name – including six Irish Derby wins – but none in either of the mile classics.

However, Shelir is as low as 8/1 to put that right in Saturday’s Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas.

On the weekend when the €80 million Curragh redevelopment is officially opened it would be a popular success for the Aga Khan who has been a key mover for almost two decades in plans to revamp Irish racing’s HQ.  

Shelir earned his classic ticket with a smooth victory in last month’s Tetrarch Stakes. But with ground conditions currently “good to firm” and watering having begun already, the grey son of Dark Angel will have to cope with the fastest surface he’s faced to date.

“He’s a good actioned horse and will take his chance anyway. I’m pleased with him and I expect him to run a good race,” said his trainer Dermot Weld on Monday.

Weld, who trains on the Curragh, added: “It is quick but there is some rain forecast in the middle of the week and any little bit that comes will be welcome.”

It is 33 years since Weld’s sole 2,000 Guineas success with Flash Of Steel although Azamour’s surprise defeat by Bachelor Duke in 2004 is the closest the Aga Khan has come to winning the colts’ classic.

The complexion of this weekend’s triple-Group One programme will become clearer after Tuesday’s forfeit stage although Shelir and other 2,000 Guineas candidates will have their work cut out against Magna Grecia who is already odds-on in most betting lists.

It’s half a century since Right Tack became the first horse to win the Guineas at Newmarket and the Curragh. But Magna Grecia is a hot favourite to be become the 10th.

His trainer Aidan O’Brien is pursuing a 12th win in the colts’ classic and four of his previous 11 winners managed the double.

Winter in 2017 was the last of O’Brien’s seven 1,000 Guineas winners and she was just the third to pull off the Newmarket-Curragh fillies’ double. Attraction in 2004 was the first followed by Finsceal Beo three years later.

Hermosa is on target to try and do the same on Sunday and tops betting lists along with the English hope Qabala who started favourite at Newmarket only to finish third behind her Irish rival. 

The Curragh’s Guineas Festival begins on Friday evening and the Aga Khan shapes like being a major player too in the Group Three Kerrygold Gallinule Stakes.

A total of 19 entries remain in the traditional Derby trial after Monday’s forfeit stage including 10 from Ballydoyle.

They include Blenheim Palace who belied 33/1 odds when runner up to his stable companion Broome in the Derrinstown Derby Trial at Leopardstown.

The Aga Khan has two potential contenders in Zuenoon and Tinandali who won a maiden at Leopardstown last month and holds a Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby entry at the end of June.

In other news long awaited confirmation of a new drug testing service provider for Irish racing is anticipated by next week at the latest. The Irish Times understands the Newmarket based LGC Laboratory will formally take over the function.

LGC has been providing an interim service to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) since February of last year when the regulator ended a 22-year link to the Limerick based BHP laboratory.

An IHRB evaluation committee subsequently examined tender offers from a number of laboratories worldwide. A decision was originally expected by the end of last year but formal confirmation of LGC’s appointment is now expected shortly.

TIPS BOX

Sligo: 5.00pm – Lincoln; 5.30pm – Cruella Dovil (Nap) 6.00pm – Kasbah; 6.30pm – Esprit D’escalier; 7.00pm – Dash To Celebrate; 7.30pm – Solomons Seal; 8.00pm – Arcland; 8.30pm – Small Town Boy
Nap and double: Cruella Dovil and Small Town Boy.

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