Irish 2000 Guineas Preview
Saturday sees the first Irish Classic of the season as the Curragh hosts the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas. Charlie Appleby had a one-two at Newmarket earlier this month and he will be hoping to snare the prize away from the home team. Here is our look ahead to the big race at the Co Kildare circuit, due to go to post at 3.20pm on Saturday.
Selection: Native Trail
Next Best: Imperial Fighter
Native Trail's race to lose
All things being equal, Rowley Mile runner-up NATIVE TRAIL should go one place better now for Charlie Appleby, William Buick and Godolphin. That second in the English Guineas was a meritorious run. He was downed by stablemate Coroebus, but it's easy enough to argue that James Doyle's mount had the best of luck in running, racing on the right part of the track as he did.
Native Trail didn't completely look at home in the dip but he finished to good effect, leaving the impression he may well stay behind this mile trip in time. He lost his flawless record but last year's champion juvenile shed little else in defeat against what should prove a top-class colt.
Moreover, Luxembourg (third) was one of the other leading juveniles of last season and it did have the look of being a strong renewal of the Rowley Mile contest. The form is not yet tested fully, but the first titbit we saw was Royal Patronage – eighth at Newmarket – finishing second-best in the Dante at York last week behind Desert Crown and that was a promising start.
Victorious at this track in the Group 1 National Stakes last season, Native Trail should relish being back on the wide-open expanse that is the Curragh. He was within three-parts of a length of Coroebus going by the winning line at Newmarket and can showcase that to be strong form by landing the Irish Guineas, thus emulating Kingman, second at Newmarket in 2014 before easily going one better here.
Fighter can box on for minor prize
The home team will rely on the likes of Joseph O'Brien's Buckaroo – an impressive Listed winner over C&D recently – as well as Aidan O'Brien's Ivy League, a lightly-raced sort but open to improvement – in their quest to ensure the €289,999 top prize isn't for export.
Buckaroo had four lengths in hand from Wexford Native when scoring here this month, with New Energy and Malex filling the next two places and, in truth, all of the home team seemingly require a below-par Native Trail to show up.
So, too, does IMPERIAL FIGHTER but maybe the second UK raider is being underestimated. Andrew Balding's son of The Gurkha won a maiden at Goodwood on debut last summer over 7f (soft) and then ran excellent races in defeat when second behind Royal Patronage and Coroebus at York and Newmarket before a two-length fifth to Luxembourg at Doncaster in what was his first taste of Group 1 action.
That sort of form ensures he wasn't far removed from the best of his peers and April's comeback at Newcastle was promising, despite failing to justify favouritism in the Listed Burradon Stakes over a mile on the Tapeta.
He moved well for David Probert but ran into traffic issues, left with nowhere to go at a crucial stage before finishing off strongly and only narrowly failing to grab second. He's entitled to a better share of luck now and to improve from that run and he might be good enough to hit the frame in those circumstances at a fancy price.