The second day of the Irish Champions Weekend moves to the historic and newly refurbished Curragh racecourse. There are four Group 1 races to enjoy with the highlight being the Irish St Leger which is the final classic of the season.
The Flying Five Stakes is run over 5 furlongs and is the first Group 1 of the day and it actually the first time the race is being run as a Group 1 having been upgraded in status this season. Havana Grey heads the market and the English raider is already a course and distance winner this season. Karl Burke’s charge has since run well to finish fifth in the Nunthorpe and looks the one they all have to beat.
Aidan O’Brien’s Sioux Nation and the much-travelled Darren Bunyan trained Hit The Bid look best placed to trouble the favourite from the home team. Sioux Nation has only got his head in front once this season from six starts and he will run well without probably being good enough. Hit The Bid won earlier in the year at Meydan and ran very well behind Blue Uluru in a listed race at Tipperary when last seen.
Expensive purchase Different League was in behind Hot The Bid that day and will need to recapture her two-year-old form which included a victory at Royal Ascot.
Dave Griffiths ever-green Take Cover landed back to back wins in the Beverly Bullet when last seen and prior to this he finished sixth in the just behind Havana Grey in the Nunthorpe and given the difference in their prices it might be worth siding with the elder statesman.
Selection: Take Cover
The Moyglare Stud Stakes is the second Group 1 on Sunday and it’s for two-year-old fillies over seven-furlong. Just Wonderful will be many peoples idea of the winner especially given the recent form of the stable. She seemed to improve for the step up in trip when landing a Group 3 at the Curragh. The form of this race was somewhat let down at Doncaster yesterday when the runner-up Peach Tree was well beaten.
Main Edition was been admirably consistent winning four of his five career starts including a victory in the Albany at the Royal meeting. Mark Johnston’s inmates only defeat came in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes when she was badly hampered and eased down inside the final furlong. If she can continue to progress then there is no reason she can’t continue her winning streak.
The under-rated horse in the race is Skitter Scatter who has won both her starts over 7 furlongs in impressive fashion, most notably in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes where she had Zagitova behind her.
Selection: Skitter Scatter
The Group 1 National Stakes looks like a race to saviour and have the notebook at the ready, with an eye on next season. The current second favourite for next season’s Epsom Derby Anthony Van Dyck heads the market in this race, having won three on the bounce. The latest of these victories was in the Group 2 Futurity Stakes where he cosily beat stablemate Christmas.
The twice race and unbeaten Quorto looks like the biggest threat to Aidan O’Brien’s inmate having won well on debut at Newmarket and then landing the Group 2 Superlative Stakes in very taking fashion from a field of quality horses. The well-bred son of Dubawi will be looking to extend his unbeaten run and it looks entirely possible.
The much raced Land Force also represents team Balllydoyle in this and he has been on the most consistent two-year-olds all season. The son of No Nay Never has danced every dance and finished out of the placings for the first time on his last run in the Prix Morny. Land Force was tapped for toe and stayed on to finish fourth that day and I think he will appreciate this longer trip and should reward his each way followers.
The Irish St Leger is the last classic of the season and one every trainer wants to win. It’s been won by some staying greats down through the years including Vinnie Roe who won it on four consecutive occasions from 2001-2004 and more recently by dual winner Order Of St George (2015 & 2017).
Aidan will have to rely on Flag Of Honour this season as Order Of St George was retired this earlier this week. The son of Galileo has really appreciated stepping up in trip when winning the Curragh Cup and the St Leger trial on his two most recent runs. He looks to be a very smart stayer and has every chance of winning this classic.
Latrobe represents Joseph O’Brien and has already won a Group 1 this season when beating a pair of his father’s runners in the Irish Derby. That was a real feather in the young trainer’s cap and I’m sure he’d like to add this classic to his ever-growing list of victories. Latrobe was last seen finishing a well-beaten seventh in the Juddmonte International where he undoubtedly found the distance too sharp. This trip should suit far better and he’ll give Flag Of Honour a real run for his money.
John Gosden has progressed Weekender nicely through the handicap ranks and he ran really well under a big weight in the Ebor handicap when last seen in competitive action. I think he may just be lacking that bit of class where it counts. The last real runner of note is Idaho who has some very smart form in the book but he may vulnerable to his younger rivals.
The rest of the field is made up of Twilight Payment and Cypress Creek.