THE Guineas Spring Racing Festival gets under way at the Curragh next Saturday when the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas is the highlight of an eight race card. There are a total of 19 entries for the Group One Classic, including the Johnny Murtagh trained and ridden Fort Knox and eight from the powerful Aidan O’Brien yard.
Murtagh only received his licence to train from the Turf Club last Friday and the Co Meath-born man is really looking forward to Saturday. “I got the licence on Friday and it’s all systems go,” commented Murtagh today. “Fort Knox is a decent colt and will appreciate a decent bit of ground. We could not be happier with him and he is ready to put up a big showing. We supplemented Ask Dad for the race and he is likely to take his chance too.”
Trainer Richard Hannon has left three in the race, including Newmarket 2000 Guineas third Van Der Neer, along with Olympic Glory (who got no run in the French 2000 Guineas from a bad draw) and Havana Gold. Cristoforo Colombo, Mars and George Vancouver, fifth, sixth and 10th respectively behind Dawn Approach at Newmarket, are the three main Aidan O’Brien hopes, but he also has Flying The Flag, Forester, Magician, Pedro The Great and French 2000 Guineas fourth Gale Force Ten to rely on. Meanwhile, trainer Andy Oliver has also committed First Cornerstone to the race.
Jim Bolger has left four in the race, but the Co Carlow-based trainer is likely to plump for Loch Garman following that horse’s second placing behind Battle Of Marengo at Leopardstown just over a week ago. “He has come out of the Leopardstown race and the plan is to run him in Saturday’s race,” commented Bolger.
Bookmaker Paddy Power have installed Cristoforo Colombo as there 3/1 favourite for the Tattersalls-sponsored race. They then go 100/30 Olympic Glory, 5/1 Van Der Neer, 7/1 Fort Knox, 8/1 Gale Force Ten, Loch Garman, Mars and Trading Leather, 12 George Vancouver, Magician and Havana Gold, 14/1 Pedro The Great, 16/1 Leitir Mor, 20/1 Bar.
The Group Three Abu Dhabi Stakes has attracted 12 quality entries and will be one of the races of the weekend. Dermot Weld, who won this race 12 months ago with Emulous, will rely on Caponata this time around, while Kempton Listed winner Lily’s Angel is also primed to run along with Precious Stone, Sindjara, Was, La Colina and Aloof. There are three British-trained entries in Chigun, Sentaril and Thistle Bird.
Gordon Lord Byron, Maarek, Jimmy Styles, Cape Of Approval, Hitchens, Slade Power and Gale Force Ten are among 20 entries for the Group Three Weatherbys Ireland Greenland Stakes, while there are 11 entries for the Listed Cold Move EBF Marble Hill Stakes.
1st race 1.45pm
Admission 20 euro, Seniors and Under 25s 10 euro, Under 16s Free. Trains to Kildare Town with free shuttle to racecourse. Dublin Coach service from Dublin to Curragh – see dublincoach.ie for details
Entries for Sunday will be published at 12 noon tomorrow. The eight race programme will feature the Etihad Airways Irish 1000 Guineas, Tattersalls Gold Cup and President of the UAE Cup, while it is also Ladies Day with spectacular prizes for the Most Stylish Ladies and Men judged by Norah Casey and Aoibhin Garrihy of Fair City fame. Other attractions over both days include a Boutique Shopping and Food Village, Pamper Clinic for ladies with Shades & Shapes and display of the Etihad Formula One Ferrari Car.