All eyes will be on Siskin in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Friday night.
The unbeaten Ger Lyons-trained colt picked up a Group One prize as a juvenile in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes over six furlongs of the Curragh, adding to Group Two gains in the Railway Stakes over the same course and distance.
He had been due to run in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in September, but became unruly in the stalls and was withdrawn.
All has reportedly gone well since then as he prepares for his biggest test – and first in excess of six furlongs.
Siskin carried all before him last year
His rider Colin Keane told Racing TV: “He’s in as good nick as we can have him, so we’re looking forward to it. I think he’s done very well through the winter and I think the delay to racing has actually stood to him.
“We’re very hopeful and happy with his draw.”
Speaking last week, owner Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe offered a similar view to Keane, saying: “He has progressed well and though he will never be a big horse, he has furnished nicely and Ger is very pleased with him. Hopefully he will get the trip.”
Connections are confident that whatever upset Siskin at Newmarket will not happen again.
Grimthorpe added: “Nothing has come to light as to why he did what he did in the stalls at Newmarket. I think you would have to ask the horse that.
Lyons told us more about Siskin after he had won his first four races
“He has been through the stalls plenty of times since without a bother, so he should be fine in them next time.”
Aidan O’Brien already has one Classic to his name this season through Love in the Qipco 1000 Guineas, and he fields six in opposition to Siskin as he looks to land the Curragh showpiece for the 12th time.
Armory, Fort Myers, Lope Y Fernandez, Monarch Of Egypt, Royal Lytham and Vatican City represent the Ballydoyle trainer.
Assessing some of his runners, O’Brien said: “New World Tapestry ran a nice race in the Vertem Futurity Trophy. Royal Lytham won a Group Two, he never went further than six but we always thought he would stay further.
“We’re not convinced how far Monarch Of Egypt will stay. An option would have been to go to the Jersey without a run, but then you’re probably going to find it hard to find out if he is going to get a mile or not.
“We’ll learn a lot with these horses when they start. Everybody learns together really what they are. We don’t expose them too much at home if we can.”
Michael Halford is hopeful of a big run from Sinawann, whose final outing as two-year-old saw him finish second to leading Derby contender Mogul at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend.
Halford said “The horse is in good form and has trained really well so we’re happy with him.
“Obviously Siskin looks the obvious one, he’s a very justifiable favourite, and then you’ve always got Aidan.
“Our fellow has shown a good level of form as a two-year-old and we felt he was entitled to take his chance.
“The Curragh is a stiff track and you’d need to get every yard. It’s usually a strong gallop and that will certainly play into our hands.”
Jim Bolger runs the once-raced Fiscal Rules, whose only outing last year was a head second to Qipco 2000 Guineas runner-up Wichita at the Curragh in August.
Andrew Slattery’s Rebel Tale, second to Armory in the Futurity Stakes and two places behind Sinawann at Leopardstown, completes the line-up.
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