Elton John assured us that Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting and this particular Saturday night is alright for a Classic contest, too, with 15 fillies ready to scrap out the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh (7.15pm).
Five British trainers have scooped the fillies’ Classic this century (go to the front of the class if you can recall them all) but that will be happening this year with all the runners trained on home shores. That last occurred in 2017, when Aidan O’Brien was responsible for half of the eight runners and saddled the first three home.
Watch vital Guineas clues
O’Brien will again rely on safety in numbers in his quest to win the prize for a ninth time and has his team firing on all cylinders. He came within a neck of winning both Guineas at Newmarket last weekend and has been firing home the winners in Ireland this week.
He seems unlikely to have things all his own way in this Saturday scrap, though, and might even end it with a bloodied nose.
Here’s a guide to all the contenders.
Trainer: Jessica Harrington. Rating: 114. General odds: 15-8
Showed a high level of form at two, winning the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac over a mile at Longchamp after landing a Group Two prize at the Curragh.
There were mitigating circumstances when she was beaten in two other races at the highest level and she seems versatile regards the ground. Shane Foley, her jockey, could barely contain his excitement about her when interviewed by Kevin O’Ryan on Racing TV on Wednesday, although there’s not much margin for error in her price.
What they say: Jessica Harrington - She’s in great form, she’s going to be very fresh and well, but she has been away to the Curragh twice so at least she has been on the lorry and done a gallop away from home and I hope I have got her in very good form.
2. APRICOT MOON
Trainer: Andrew Oliver. Rating:--. Odds: 66-1
Produced a tremendous late surge to win on her debut over a mile at Dundalk in December.
That was a promising start and the runner-up has since gone one better but she’s in at the deep end here and not hard to look elsewhere.
3. BROOK ON FIFTH
Trainer: Joseph O’Brien. Rating: 93. Odds: 100-1
Beat 28 rivals on her Curragh debut in August but then came up short in Group Three company and it was a similar story when she made her return this week.
Hard to fancy making a swift reappearance. The yard has also had plenty of runners this week without chalking up a win, although that is not a huge concern.
4. EVEN SO
Trainer: Ger Lyons. Rating: 97. Odds: 25-1
Was confirming the promise of her debut when winning a mile maiden on soft ground at Gowran in late September.
She stepped up on that when a close third in a Group Three contest in the mud at Naas in March, although her odds-on backers were left disappointed. Should be more to come, although there is plenty of stamina in her pedigree and we may not see the best of her until she is unleashed over further.
5. FANCY BLUE
Trainer: Donnacha O’Brien. Rating: 102. Odds: 11-2
The Deep Impact filly was trained by Aidan O’Brien last year, but he credited his son, Donnacha, with most of the credit after she had landed a Listed contest over a mile at the Curragh and the filly is now in his care.
She overcame obvious greenness when winning on her debut and performed wonders to come from last to first in the Listed event, which was slow-run. Middle-distances may well show her in an even better light – the 25-1 available about her for the Oaks looks generous - but fascinating to see how she has developed over the winter
What they say: Donnacha O'Brien - "She’s gone very strong and she’s grown a little bit, so she’s done very well from two to three. She’s a filly that on pedigree should suit 10 or even 12 furlongs and we’re kind of treating the Guineas as a little bit of a prep run for the Oaks. She’ll improve plenty fitness wise, but that’s kind of the long-term plan, going to the Irish Oaks"
Trainer: Dermot Weld. Rating: 96. Odds: 25-1
Touched off Gin Blossom on her debut in a big field over a mile at the Curragh in late September before finishing a creditable third in a muddling Group Three contest at Leopardstown over 7f the following month.
Plenty more required here but true-run race over a mile should play more to her strengths (will stay further) and this will be her first run on faster going. Seeks to give her trainer a fifth success in the race.
7. MISS MYERS
Trainer: Michael Grassick. Rating: 95.__ Odds__: 80-1
Belied odds of 100-1 when a close fourth to Lemista in a Group Three contest over a mile in the mud at Naas in March, when having his first start for the Grassick yard.
That looked no fluke but plenty more needed here. The highlight of her campaign as a two-year-old was when winning a maiden at Limerick.
8. MY LUCKY PENNY
Trainer: AM O’Shea. Rating: 54. Odds: 250-1
You can probably add a zero to any price quoted by the bookmakers. She’s achieved little in four starts and faces an impossible task.
9. NEW YORK GIRL
Trainer: Joseph O’Brien. Rating: 103. Odds: 14-1
Snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the Group Three Weld Stakes at the Curragh (7f) in late September after trading at 599-1 in-running on Betfair, having previously made an eye-catching debut at Cork.
Much more on her plate and her trainer regards her more of an Oaks-type, but she rates an exciting prospect and is one to keep in mind from her powerful stable.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Rating: 100. Odds: 100-30
The Galileo filly confirmed the promise of her debut when the runaway winner of a Thurles maiden before splitting Born To Run and Run Wild (winner of the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket last weekend) in the Listed Montrose Stakes at Newmarket in early November.
No surprise if she continues to climb ranks, although the suspicion is that we will not see the best of her until she tackles middle distances.
Trainer: Michael Halford. Rating: --. Odds: 16-1
The market spoke in favour of the well-bred daughter of Sea The Stars before she made her debut in a Leopardstown maiden (7f) in mid-August and she duly delivered with a taking success.
They finished in a heap behind her and she’s clearly short of experience, but there’s some substance to that form with Lemasta (subsequent Group Three winner) and Peaceful (runner-up in the Montrose Stakes) being among the also-rans.
What they say: Michael Halford - "She’s always shown us plenty from the very beginning and we always liked her, so it was no surprise she won at Leopardstown. Unfortunately for us and for her she returned to the unsaddling enclosure and was lame, it turned out she had fractured her pastern. She had an operation the next morning and stood in for a couple of months. We’ve brought her along slowly and she’s in very good form now.”
12. ROCA ROMA
Trainer: Ger Lyons. Rating: --. Odds: 16-1
The Australia filly is related to several winners and no doubt she also has races in her to judge by her encouraging debut over a mile at Leopardstown in the autumn when she beat all bar the more experienced Amma Grace.
Lack of trial races for her this spring probably no help to her chance, but plenty of others in the same boat.
13. SO WONDERFUL
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Rating: 108. Odds: 13-2
Failed to win any of her eight races last term, but she mixed it with the best of her generation ran some fine races in pattern company – including when third to Love in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh on her final start, when a below-par Albigna was sixth.
Proven up to a mile and interesting that she has yet to encounter ground with the word “firm” in the description. She’s a daughter of War Front and her progeny generally relish quick going.
14. SOUL SEARCH
Trainer: Ger Lyons. Rating: 106. Odds: 20-1
Difficult to believe she begins this year a maiden as she ran some cracking races in defeat last year.
The pick of her efforts was probably when a close fourth to Love in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh in September, where she might have gone even closer had she got some cover and more patient tactics been employed. Easy to forgive below-par run in mud just eight days later and she should make her presence felt provided her stamina holds.
15. VALERIA MESSALINA
Trainer: Jessica Harrington. Rating: 99. Odds: 20-1
Her siblings include Pincheck (a Group Three winner for her trainer) and she wasted no time getting off the mark, prevailing by a nose on her debut in a 16-runner maiden at Naas (7f).
Confirmed herself a decent prospect when a neck runner-up to Rose Of Kildare in the Group Two Oh So Sharp Stakes at Newmarket the following month but this demands a lot more.
Albigna looked a class act when winning at the highest level in France in the autumn and the vibes from her yard have been strong for several months. She’s going to take some stopping but but the manner in which Fancy Blue and New York Girl they won their races in the autumn also marked them down as potential top-notchers. The latter, chalked up at 14-1, looks a fair each-way alternative to the favourite. Soul Search also looks overpriced at 20-1 and should make her presence felt.
1 NEW YORK GIRL 2 ALBIGNA 3 FANCY BLU. 4 SOUL SEARCH
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