Tattersalls Irish 2000Gns 1 Mile Curragh Tips Saturday

First run in 1921, The Irish 2000Gns has been dominated by Aidan O’Brien who has won the Classic an amazing eleven times, and indeed has hit the back of the net eight times in the last ten renewals. Nine animals have brought off the Newmarket and Curragh 2000Gns double, including the O’Brien trained Churchill last year, but with this year’s Newmarket Hero, Saxon Warrior, staying in his box we won’t be seeing a tenth this weekend. However, the Master Of Ballydoyle, with five declared runners at the time of writing, holds his usual strong hand, and while it is dangerous to ever ignore a contender from the yard, the two to concentrate on appear to be Gustav Klimt and US Navy Flag.

Gustav Klimt was disappointing in The 2000Gns, finishing 6th, 3 3/4L behind his impressive winning stablemate, Saxon Warrior, but in his previous race, The Leopardstown 2000Gns Trial, he had impressed when beating Saturday’s opponent, Imaging, by a comfortable 1 3/4L, and he had also done well to overcome difficulties to win last year’s Group2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket. (7f Gd/Fm). He is a real Blue Blood, by Galileo out of The Danehill mare Massarra,(a cross much favoured by Coolmore) and his Grand dam, Rafha, has produced the two outstanding Stallions, Invincible Spirit and Kodiac so a victory in Saturday’s Classic would certainly hugely enhance Gustav Klimt’s value and guarantee his future as a stallion.

US Navy Flag’s record of 4 wins from 12 starts, isn’t that impressive at first glance, but two of them were achieved at the top level last Autumn, when he won the 6f Middlepark and the 7f Dewhurst both at Newmarket. He was always in command in the latter, making all, and staying on strongly, to beat his stablemate, Mendelssohn by 2 1/2L, but then disappointed badly three weeks later, when attempting similar tactics in The Breeders Cup Juvenile on Dirt (1m100yds). Well beaten behind Gustav Klimt at Leopardstown on his reappearance he was more convincing next time in The French 2000Gns when leading inside the 3f marker he stumbled badly, but regaining his balance kept on but was headed over 1f out, and faded into 5th place. This was a decent effort in the circumstances, and it won’t surprise if this son of Warfront, whose dam, Misty For Me won four times at the top level including the Irish 1000Gns in 2011, is involved at the business end at the weekend.

The Dermot Weld trained Imaging, having been put in his place by Gustav Klimt at Leopardstown, was quite impressive next time when winning the 7f Listed Tetrarch Stakes at Naas on better ground. Short of space from 1f out, and denied a clear run, he quickened well between horses to win going away by 3/4L from Would Be King. By Oasis Dream, out of a mare who was a Listed winner at 1m2f, Imaging will be well suited by the step back up to a mile and is considered.

CURRAGHJames A Stack, (Fozzy) is the son of Tommy, who steered the Immortal Red Rum to his third Aintree victory and would love to make his own bit of racing history with his rapidly improving son of Choisir, Zihba, on Saturday. A winner of his only start as a 2yo,(Dundalk AW Maiden) he won again at the same venue on his reappearance, but there was little to suggest that we had seen a future Classic winner. However 51 days later he took a giant step forward when winning The Group3 Amethyst Stakes at Leopardstown. He took it up inside the final furlong, and kept on well to win by 1 1/2L. Further progress will be required to get involved on Saturday, but this son of Choisir, out of a Galileo mare, is clearly improving at a rate of knots.

Our selection for the Newmarket 2000Gns, Elarqam was a little disappointing in only finishing 4th but his hugely talented trainer was not dismayed feeling that his inexperience and freshness hadn’t helped his cause. He did suffer some slight interference, and seemed to hesitate coming out of Newmarket’s Dip, but then ran on again. He had been impressive in both starts prior to the 2000Gns, particularly in the Group3 Tattersalls Stakes last September where he beat the subsequent 2000Gns runner up Tip Two Win by 2 1/2L. The son of Frankel is out of the wonderful mare Attraction who can count victory in the Irish 1000Gns in 2004 amongst her five top level success’s, and with The Mark Johnston operation firing in the winners, Elarqam looks the one to beat.

Selection: Elarqam

EW. : Imaging

John Gray

Qipco 2000Gns Tips 1mile (Rowley) Newmarket Saturday

Rock The Kasbah gave us a good run for our money in last week’s bet365 Gold Cup but the ground had gone against him, and he did well to hold onto second place behind the runaway winner Stepback to whom he was conceding a stone. The dreadful weather has had a huge influence on results all through this winter so let’s hope the forecasters have got it right, and the first Classic of the year on Saturday is run with the Sun shining on a decent racing surface.

Aidan O’Brien, with an astonishing eight wins in the race, (an all time record), won four of the five British Classics last season, including the 2000gns, (with Churchill) and will be hoping to get off the mark again this year at the first time of asking. Of his quartet of entries at the time of writing, the two to concentrate on are Gustav Klimt, and last year’s Group1, Racing Post Trophy Victor, Saxon Warrior.

The former has won three of his four starts, including the Group2 Superlative Stakes (7f Gd/fm) over The July Course, where despite being hampered and losing his place at the 2 furlong marker, he battled back to win by a head from the useful Nebo. He was quite impressive on his reappearance, winning The Leopardstown 2000gns Trial (7f Hy) putting 1 3/4L between himself and the runner up, Imaging, in the last 150yds. By super stallion, Galileo, out of the Danehill mare Massarra, (a cross much favoured by Coolmore) Gustav Klimt hasn’t had the opportunity to race at the top level yet, (withdrawn from the Group1 National Stakes because of a stone bruise last September),but his full brother, Mars, was placed at the top level and finished 6th in the 2013 renewal of Saturday’s contest. Of further interest from a breeding point of view is that the grand dam, Rafha has produced the two outstanding stallions, Invincible Spirit and Kodiac.

Saxon Warrior has raced three times and won all of them, including last time, when he won the Group1 Racing Post Trophy from Saturday’s opponent, Roaring Lion last October. He was headed by the Gosden horse, who tended to hang left inside the final furlong but gamely fought back to win by a head. There are mixed messages from his pedigree as he is by the very successful Japanese stallion, Deep Impact out of The Galileo mare Maybe, who didn’t seem to train on after a terrific two year old career. She won all five of her starts as a 2yo, including at the top level, but never beyond 7f. She was beaten 10L, finishing third behind Homecoming Queen in the 1000gns and never again troubled the judge in her career. Her only other offspring, Saxon Warrior’s full brother, Pavlenko, has only managed a single maiden victory from eleven starts.

While the Charlie Appleby trained Masar did win two of his six starts as a 2yo, including the Group3 Solario Stakes at Sandown, his overall form didn’t suggest that he might win a 2000gns, an impression reinforced by his first run as a 3yo, where he finished 10th on the dirt at Meydan in March. However, last time he put up a real eye catching performance in The Craven Stakes, Racing over Saturday’s course and distance, he made all to come home 9L clear of White Mocha, with the Racing Post Trophy runner up, Roaring Lion, the 8/13 favourite, another 1/4L back in third. While visually very impressive it’s worth remembering that the runner up was rated 13lbs inferior to masar and the time, 3.1 seconds slower than standard on good ground, was nothing to write home about. However his winter in the sun has obviously done him good and he’s worth a second look.

We can only assume that Roaring Lion didn’t run his race in The Craven but based on his Racing Post form, and his win over Aidan O’Briens’ talented Nelson, in The Royal Lodge last September, he has to be of interest. However that poor performance last time is a serious concern, so perhaps Gosden’s best chance of landing a first 2000gns lies with the lightly raced son of Frankel, Without Parole.

He didn’t see a racecourse until last December when he dotted up in a lowly Class5 on the AW at Newcastle, and was again impressive when winning another Class5 at Yarmouth eleven days ago. The form doesn’t amount to much and Saturday represents a huge step up in class, but it’s worth noting that half brother Tamarkuz has had a hugely successful career, albeit on the AW, winning at the highest level, and banking more than £1.2 million in prize money.

Since winning with Mister Baileys in 1994, Mark Johnston has drawn a blank in the 2000gns but must entertain serious hopes of landing a second with his talented son of Frankel, Elarqam. He is out of that wonderful mare, Attraction, who won five Group ones, including the 1000gns in 2004 for Johnston, and Elarqam has been impressive in winning both of his starts, at York and Newmarket. The form of his win at Headquarters has been franked, with the runner up, Tip Two Win, easily winning his next two races, including a local Group2 in Doha last time. Elarqam not only has his inexperience to overcome, as well as the rest of the field, but coming from this yard, it won’t surprise if he does.

Selection: Elarqam

E.W. : Masar

John Gray