It's Irish 2000 Guineas day at The Curragh and Andy Holding has the best bets.
Ed Dunlop has made an unbelievable start to this season and one of his most improved handicappers, RED VERNON (NAP) (best price 6/4)
, looks set to keep up the good work for the Newmarket handler. Unlucky not to make a winning start to handicap life when narrowly denied at Doncaster on his turf debut, the son of Lemon Drop Kid made amends in no uncertain fashion at Chester last time out. Coming from a long way back off strong fractions set by the pace-setting Soldier In Action, the progressive three-year-old powered clear of his main market rival in the latter stages and, in the process, clocking an amazing set of figures that really got the numbers boys purring. His final lap of 1.40.0, was 4.1 better than the one posted by the listed fillies in the Cheshire Oaks and even his last three furlong of 37.4 was only just outside the finishing splits of the five furlong sprint contest won by Sir Maximilian (36.2). Based on these findings, a rise of 8lb shouldn’t be enough to prevent him from going in again and he can take this contest before setting his sights on a richer prize at the Royal meeting.
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Red Vernon - 2pts @ 6/4Won 3pts
MATARICO (best price 3/1)
had the look of a potentially well-handicapped horse going into his latest outing at York, but unfortunately, Jonjo O’Neill’s charge never had the opportunity to justify that theory on account of a poor passage throughout the latter stages of a rather muddling contest. He did, however, give off positive signals with the way he finished off his race that he’s by no means a forlorn hope in future events and this contest looks a decent opportunity for him to get back on track before tackling something like the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting next month.
Matarico - 1pt @ 3/1Lost -1pts
APPEARED (best price 2/1)
won in style of a horse with plenty in hand over today’s C&D last time out and looks booked to follow up that success 10 days later. Considering Roger Varian’s charge spent the whole of the last three furlongs star-gazing and looking at the crowd and still had the ability to score in the manner that he did, is very much testimony to his raw talent, and with that experience sure to have done him the world of good mentally, the Dubawi gelding looks one to keep on side.
Appeared - 1pt @ 2/1Lost -1pts
IN SALUTEM (best price 6/1)
has to be one of the most infuriating horses in training in so much as he should have won plenty more races than the 5-45 current tally, but he always has to be worth considering back at his old stomping ground and he’s also at the right sort of price to initiate a decent each-way bet. Not for the first time, Ken Condon’s charge found all the trouble going on his latest encounter at Navan last week and that’s been very much the story of his career in recent times. When everything drops just right for him, however, he can be pretty deadly in races of this nature, and from his decent draw towards the stands-side fence, the son of Sahkee’s Secret should easily be in the thick of action with a trouble-free passage.
IN SALUTEM - 1pt e/w @ 6/1Placed 0.5pts
Darren Bunyan isn't a name most UK punters will be too familiar with, but there's every chance that notion may change as the Co Kildare handler looks to have bright prospects of plundering a big pot with MISTER TRADER (best price 10/1)
. Not seen out since impressing with the manner of victory in the opening juvenile contest over today's C&D, the son of Hellvelyn has presumably been kept fresh specifically for this race by local connections and with the rain coming to aid his cause in the last 24 hours, his chances have increased ten-fold. The time figure he posted that day along with the form of those he beat all suggest the form is up to the standard required to be competitive in pattern company and from his good draw in box 8, he looks set to easily outrun his double-figure quotes.
MISTER TRADER - 1pt e/w @ 10/1Placed 1pt
Despite the lurking presence of the massively improved Don’t Touch, FORT DEL ORO (best price 10/3)
gets the strong vote to topple the English raider at a track that clearly plays into her strengths. On each occasion Edward Lynam’s filly has stepped foot on the Co Kildare soil, she’s run a blinder in victory and defeat, and on the evidence of her opening success at Naas the last day, it’s hard to see her not giving her seven opponents all the trouble they can handle. The way she quickened up over a trip short of her best that evening augurs well for the rest of the season and, better suited by a strong-run 6f on a stiff track, she can make hay from her favoured stands side pitch.
FORT DEL ORO - 2pts e/w @ 10/3Lost -4pts
The shape of the Irish 2000 Guineas is perfect for a bit of each-way thievery and BLUE DE VEGA (best price 11/1)
fits the bill to a tee with the dead eight runners set to go to post. Held in the highest possible regard right from the outset by connections, Michael O’Callaghan’s charge fulfilled all his early promise by capturing the Group 3 Killavulan Stakes on his final start as a two-year-old and that performance had those at Qatar Racing dreaming of bigger and better prizes this season. The way he performed on his only start to this campaign did nothing to dispel the theory that he’s going to make into a top-class miler and with one or two lingering doubts hanging over several of his main rivals this afternoon, it would come as little surprise if the son of Lope De Vega seizes this golden opportunity to put his name in lights.
BLUE DE VEGA - 1pt e/w @ 11/1Placed 1.2pts