With a few split write-ups to highlight some of the feature cards around the world this weekend, we start with racing from The Curragh in Ireland. The main event will be the Irish St. Leger Trial, headlined by the return of Ascot Gold Cup runner-up, Princess Zoe. She begins her prep towards the GI Prix du Cadran in France, a race she took last year for her first Group One success.
The morning we head to Europe but at night we go to Australia. A fantastic card in Melbourne at Caulfield with a couple strong stakes from Morphettville(South Australia) and Kembla Grange(New South Wales). We see the return of many of the top Australian runners as they come out of their winter layoffs and start to prepare for a spring carnival run. Names such as General Beau, Arcaded, La Mexicana, Away Game and many others will be setting the stage for their new preps this Friday night. It’s week two from the start of the Australian racing season and it’s already starting to get pretty busy. Enjoy the action!
Friday – The Curragh
Race 1 – Curragh Stakes – 5 Furlongs, 2 Year Olds
6 – Head Mistress – The least experienced of the field but showed a ton of promise first up at Down Royal. Had the services of apprentice jockey Sam Ewing on debut and now gets the guiding hands of Ger Lyons regular stable jockey Colin Keane. Was a pretty comfortable winner first up after tracking the pace. Despite his sire Profitable being at his best at 4 and 5 years old, Profitable has had a strong showing from his juveniles and that theme will continue in my eyes in the Curragh Stakes.
11 – Zebelle – This time it’s the daughter of Profitable who has now made it two for two this preparation with wins at Ripon and Thirsk over this distance. Has a win over firm ground albeit Profitable was much better with a bit of cut in the ground. Another positive with jockey Declan McDonagh stepping in to ride for trainer George Boughey. The track is a bit different at The Curragh for some horses but she has enough experience where she can take it all in stride.
8 – Loveday – Found some affinity for the firm going when reversing personal form to score an easy victory last time out at Cork. Has run well with slight give in the ground but will still be happier to take on the firm going. Has never finished out of the money in 5 career starts, albeit with only one win to her name. Billy Lee rode this filly all three starts early in her career and now gets back aboard.
Race 4 – GIII Royal Whip Stakes – 1 1/4 Miles, 3 & Up
11 – Reve De Vol – A winner over course and distance two back in the Orby Stakes then attempted to extend to the mile and a half at Roscommon in the Lenebane Stakes, something that seemed to be a failed experiment. He has continued to progress in distance as a young horse and bringing this son of Siyouni back to the mile and a quarter will be perfect. It is a slight bump in class for him but the field itself is not much stronger than what he has seen and he’s one of the only horses that has strong recent form on good ground.
4 – Innisfree – Call me crazy for liking the horse first up since 2019 in a race on the All-Weather but this really seems like an ideal spot for his debut run. Has not seen the racetrack since his two year old campaign but was ultra impressive and precocious that season. This distance climb seems to be the plan all along for Innisfree but following his injury that cost him his 2020 season they have had to get him back to his best. I think he’s a dangerous horse 2nd or even 3rd up with a staying trip but for a first up attempt, he could surprise some people.
7 – Leo De Fury – This is a horse I have always been fond of throughout the Irish racing season as he is a hard knocker that fought in a higher class as a four year old. I thought his runs over this distance last season were a bit overshadowed by the form around him including two major Group 1s and a Group 3 that at the time featured the future Cox Plate runner-up in Armory(Who I am not fond of when he races at Arlington this weekend). One of his biggest advantages will be the ground which he relishes without a ton of moisture.
Race 6 – GIII Irish St. Leger Trial Stakes – 1 3/4 Miles, 3 & Up
1 – Amhran Na Bhfiann – I am a firm believer that today is the day for Amhran Na Bhfiann after a disappointing effort in the GI Goodwood Cup. Came back off a long layoff from injury and has been extremely impressive in any race below Group One standard. Both Group Ones that he contested came over two miles and it seemed to be a bit more than he wants. He has shown the ability to be a great stayer but I think the trip today will be much more appealing given he won the GII Curragh Cup two starts back over course and distance. Back to Ireland and cutback in distance, this is a race I have been waiting for with this horse even with him being the highweight in the field.
4 – Emperor Of The Sun – Another runner that will improve dropping out of the two main 2+ mile Group Ones in the Goodwood Cup and Gold Cup. He found the form well three back at Leopardstown when winning the Levmoss Stakes over this distance defeating one of the best Irish runners at this distance in the form of two-time Irish St. Leger winner, Search For A Song. Has the ability to stay and some speed as well being a half-sibling to one of Australia’s leading stallions in Zoustar, a multiple Group One winner between 6 and 7 furlongs down under.
7 – Barrington Court – After a strong finish to her 2020 season facing open company in the Finale Stakes at Naas, Barrington Court came back and finished 5th with a few excuses in the Vintage Tipple Stakes, as well as just being nailed at the line for 4th by Princess Zoe whos one of the favorites in this field. Expect the 7 year old to improve in her second up start. Raced over two miles last season at The Curragh and was a strong second to Dawn Patrol who put up a good effort here earlier this season first up. Ground is a bit of a question with the rain coming in a day late for her liking.
11 – Wordsworth – Currently the second choice in the betting and despite running consistently throughout his 3 year old season, has not shown the ability to win. Has good form around him but outside of a narrow loss to Sir Lucan in listed company at Navan has not been too close to runaway winners. The drop to Group 3 company will help as it did in the Gordon Stakes last time out but even with the weight allowance I still want to look the other way on this horse.
Avoid – 9 – Princess Zoe – Finished a strong second at Ascot behind the dominance of Subjectivist in the Gold Cup. This runner now begins her prep for a repeat triumph in the GI Prix du Cadran in France with this race. She has the ability to stay all day but her efforts this season outside of the Gold Cup have left a lot to be desired if you think she can repeat in Group 1 glory. She will be a chance in this field but with her recent form I am more than happy to play against.
Caulfield (Melbourne Racing Club) – Friday
Race 6 – GIII Vain Stakes – 5 1/2 Furlongs, 3 Year Old C&Gs
1 – General Beau – The buzz horse heading into the GI Blue Diamond Stakes last season, General Beau showed a bit of room to grow from a maturity standpoint as a juvenile despite his exceptional precocity. A winner of both the Blue Diamond Prelude and Blue Diamond Preview, his talent is top level and will have time to grow more and more throughout the season. Had a really nice jumpout over 4 furlongs at Flemington in which he showed a bit of that maturity throughout. Damian Lane will be aboard for the first time as regular rider Jamie Kah goes to Generation.
4 – Jigsaw – Relished the drop back to this distance at Caulfield when winning over soft ground. This has been an ideal trip for him for the time being, however as he matures into his 3 year old season I would expect him to step out more towards the 6 to 6 1/2 furlong trips. Has the most recent form of any of these runners being their preparations.
7 – Mr Mozart – Hasn’t raced since April but had a nice 4 1/2 furlong jumpout at Rosehill behind a decent galloper in Maotai back on July 30th. A winner over the distance up in New South Wales, this will be his first start in Melbourne and is worth a play at a big price. It’s a highly competitive field at the top but I am not sold they are all keyed up in their preps. If that is the case, this horse will have a good chance to put together a sneaky good performance first up.
Race 7 – GIII Quezette Stakes – 5 1/2 Furlongs, 3 Year Old Fillies
8 – Libiamo – Debuted recently over course and distance and was fantastic, closing late and really rallying strong to win. This filly made her first start as a 2 year old right at the end of the season so expect some improvement 2nd up. Form around that race came out strong with 2nd place finisher Zapateo coming out and winning next up at Moonee Valley. Should be a live chance at a nice price.
1 – Arcaded – Had an exceptional season last prep against the fillies and performed well against open company as well. A winner over course and distance in the Blue Diamond Prelude last season. Little doubt she has the talent to win this race however she has been off since April and did not see any recent jump outs listed. We will see if she is up for the task first up but definitely has the ability to beat this field.
7 – Gimmie Par – The level of talent is not the question with this horse, the question is whether or not Gimmie Par will be ready first up. Melbourne’s leading jockey Jamie Kah gets aboard for the first time with this runner who finished a strong 2nd on debut in the Talindert Stakes behind another rival in the field in Ingratiating. Another race without a clear favorite but if Gimmie Par had one recent run under her belt, she would be the clear favorite here. Maybe one start too early to take a shorter price.
Race 8 – GII P.B. Lawrence Stakes – 7 Furlongs, 3 & Up (Weight For Age)
6 – Red Can Man – We will wait to see exactly how the ground comes up on Friday night for this horse but if the track is good then he has a big chance. A winner over good ground over 5 1/4 furlongs at Caulfield, trainer David Brideoake decided to extend in distance and although he was disappointing in those efforts, I would blame that more on the soft going than any distance limitations. Has good form around solid Group 1 races in Western Australia and most importantly has a recent form to have him ready this prep against several first up runners.
2 – Streets Of Avalon – Has the speed that has continued to be strong including during a nice mid season run which saw him take out the GII Australia Stakes and the GI CF Orr over course and distance. There was some fear in the GIII Bletchingly that he wouldn’t be ready first up to sustain that speed and he ran a massive race to be just nailed on the line by Sansom. Should relish the distance and even more so will relish the weight for age condition, which has continued to prove himself at time and time again.
10 – Sierra Sue – The Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young trainee got jockey John Allen aboard last time and it paid off in a nice performance. She was dropping back from the mile and relished being back at 7 furlongs, a distance in which she has 3 wins from 5 starts. Can handle pretty much any ground she faces and this company which many of these gallopers coming off layoffs should give her a chance to run a big race.
Race 9 – Regal Roller Stakes – 6 Furlongs, 4 & Up Handicap
3 – Away Game – The big difference between taking Away Game or La Mexicana on top in this spot is the value and the value will be with Away Game. She looked great when winning in the GIII WJ Healy Stakes at Eagle Farm last time out and had a nice jumpout alongside The Inferno. There have been talks about a potential Breeders’ Cup bid for this horse in the future and although this is first up for the prep I expect her to be a bit more tuned up early with those plans in the back of the mind.
7 – La Mexicana – Can’t get away from the two market leaders but Away Game is the better value play. With that being said, La Mexicana is a very dangerous horse over this course and distance. Can handle just about any surface that’s thrown her way and has just been a model of consistency the majority of her career. Jamie Kah is back aboard as she steps up in trip back to her ideal spot. She has a recent start under her belt and should be primed for a nice effort. If you get the right price put her on top, but I doubt you will and she is very even in this spot with Away Game.
2 – The Inferno – Had a nice jumpout recently as this 5 year old gelding prepares for its first start on Australian soil. A winner of 8 of 9 starts in Singapore, The Inferno won multiple stakes and has made the trip to listed company first up this preparation. Has been off quite a while and will more than likely need a start to get going but as I have been following more and more Singapore form this galloper becomes even more intriguing.
Kembla Grange – Friday
Race 8 – GIII Up And Coming Stakes – 6 1/2 Furlongs, 3 Year Olds, Quality
4 – Revivalist – Showed good early speed last race and that is one thing that is lacking a bit with this field. Revivalist is one of the few horses that looks like he wants to go to the lead and if things go right should be able to get it his own way. Will be shortening up in distance for this event after just getting nailed on the line at Randwick. This will be the first start this prep but raced less than a month ago so should still be in decent form heading into his 3 year old campaign.
3 – Construct – Has been prepared nicely so far this prep and makes that jump into stakes company following a hard fought win over a progressive two year old in Wolves last time out at Kembla Grange. Will be making a slight bump up in distance but that should benefit more than hurt this runner. The team of Peter & Paul Snowden have done great with his prep and whether this was their target race for him or not I think Construct will peak on the day.
1 – Tiger Of Malay – One of the more progressive two year olds in this field, Tiger Of Malay placed in the GI JJ Atkins in Queensland and won the GII BRC Sires’ Produce as well. Will most likely need a bit more pace to show up in the race but is still the class of the field. Had one recent jumpout but will need to round back into form for this contest against what I believe to be some soon to be progressive type gallopers.
Morphettville (MRC South Australia) – Friday
Race 6 – GIII Spring Stakes – 6 Furlongs, Weight For Age
3 – Beau Rossa – Has proven an affinity for the distance and the track at Morphettville. Although the favorite Behemoth is very good in South Australia, this may be the chance that Beau Rossa gets to get the best of the big fella here. Biggest thing for me is that he has that run under his belt which was a strong winning effort over the course going 5 furlongs. Behemoth is coming off almost a three month layoff and based on prior form and should need the start to get to his best. Take the swing with Beau Rossa and be pretty confident in the process.
5 – Second Slip – Has shown the ability to attack from just off the pace and that will be very valuable in this field with several pacesetters who may need a start first up for the prep. Will appreciate the drop back to 6 furlongs and should get a picturesque trip with a clean break. Prices will be very good on any horse that isn’t Behemoth, Beau Rossa and even Dalasan and I think Second Slip is that right price to take a swing with.
1 – Behemoth – One of South Australia’s most talented and beloved gallopers, Behemoth returns for another crack at winning this Spring Stakes. They followed a very similar pattern to his prep last season by giving him one jumpout and wheeling back into the Spring Stakes. He followed up that win last year with two Group One triumphs at Caulfield and I am sure they will be looking for a similar pattern this season. I am willing to take against him with some value elsewhere first up, but won’t be surprised to see him run another big race.
2 – Dalasan – This 5 year old is another one of those horses who just puts his heart on the line every time out and has put together so good performances at big numbers. This will be his first start for the prep so I am not overly sold that he can beat some better quality horses in this field but he is one that you can never officially rule out because of how he is able to compete in major events. Would be a place chance in this spot and hopefully will get him going into a nice prep the rest of the season.