I was quite fortunate in some respects yesterday, but you make your own luck in this world and winners are winners when all said and done. There will be more speculative efforts today, and it may be that you decide only to bet on them, if you feel that you are in agreement with me.
I will stick to the format of yesterday, with study and analysis coming in the order the races will be run on At The Races (Sky Channel 415).
2.05 - Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes (Group 3) 1m 2f (CURRAGH)
A fascinating 3yo stakes race to begin with in Ireland, featuring the penalised Richard Hannon trained favourite Crius. He has trained two winners of this race in previous years, but they both came before the race was limited to just 3yo runners in 2004, and were older horses.
It is curious to report that no 3yo has managed to win this race carrying a penalty, but two of which managed this feat as older horses, before the new entry rules came in play, were trained by Richard Hannon himself. Looking at the overall profile of winners Nysaen (2003) and before him, Right Win (1994) they were not too much better than simply being described as useful. This is a category I would be inclined to feature Crius in, as he is unlikely to make the grade at a level higher than this as well.
Two other obvious notes made were the fact that this race has become an Aiden O'Brien benefit event by training ELEVEN winners of the race since 1997. Plenty of punters will follow him blind as a result, and who am I to disagree, but his main chance Athens, looks nothing special in my view. The other notable fact is that since Racingpost records began, no female has been successful or even got close to winning this event. Whilst there have not been an abundance who have tried, it does cause me some concern as I prepare these race notes.
Crius is a decent enough favourite and his 3lb penalty may not be enough to stop him with a winning run in this mildly weak event. Given the note made on his trainer with regards to penalised entrants, he has to be given a fair amount of respect.
The selection though which ignores absolutely every trend going is CLEOFILA trained by Jim Bolger. This filly is a likely improver having only been given ground she appreciates on her debut last season. Two runs to date this year, look to have been on unsuitable going and this well bred filly is capable of much better.
It is notable that she has some major entries at this stage with no less than three Group 1's on her early target list. For her to be that standard she will need to win quite impressively here, but many of her rivals are merely Group 3 or even Listed class, so should her entries not be fanciful, I would definitely give her a chance.
What has been lacking in her races this term, besides decent ground, is a quick pace. There are two horses featured today who love to blaze a trail and therefore she can have no excuses this afternoon and should run well.
My initial thoughts are to bet on the selection to both win and place, and cover on Crius, who himself should improve on this better ground and can confirm his Group 3 class, with a 3lb penalty in tow.
2.45 - Prix D'Ispahan (Group 1) 1m 1f 55yds (LONGCHAMP)
An excellent stakes race which had been used as preparation for global domination by Goldikova in recent years (won in 2010 and 2011) before her deserved retirement. Initial notes have pointed out Andre Fabre to be a capable trainer in the race having won the event on six occasions to date. He would have made it seven times in 2010 with Byword, but for the dominance of the aforementioned legend that was Goldikova.
What is a notable statistic that I have researched this morning is that when you ignore the superlative and audacious specimen of Goldikova, then no other filly or mare has won this race since 1989. That was when Sir Henry Cecil trained multiple Group 1 winner Indian Skimmer to victory.
The favourite Cirrus Des Aigles on paper, appears to be quite solid. However despite his phenomenal win ratio, it is also noticeable he has an extended number of 2nd places on his record too (15 wins 16 seconds). He is a class act on his day, but he may be a shorter price than necessary for this race courtesy of a comfortable win last time out.
I detest betting on horses who were made to look awesome by heavy ground last time out, and that seems to be the scenario here. Before that, he could be considered a very fortunate winner over St Nicholas Abbey in Meydan, who received a terrible ride on what was a trip too short for that rival.
With three Classic winners from last season and Planteur in opposition, an odds on shot I believe Cirrus Des Aigles not to be. Golden Lilac despite having been trained by Andre Fabre, is opposable based primarily on the terrible winning statistic of fillies.
Planteur is plenty capable enough, but at 5-1 he makes little appeal, considering in his native homeland he is predicted as a 9-1 chance (Zeturf.com). There is also a double about this shorter trip being ideal, but I am sure trainer Marco Botti will have him more than ready to do battle.
Another concerned by the trip is likely to be Reliable Man, who looks bred to appreciate a slightly milder test of stamina. With all this in mind, I am tempted to focus my attention on French 2000 Guineas winner TIN HORSE, who was my biggest win bet of last season and who on his day is a classy colt!
The one possible negative is that connections do not appear to be clearly as keen as they were before that Classic victory of last year. He is however well-drawn for a prominent role and will appreciate finally running on this better ground.
His win in the French 2000 Guineas last season was no fluke at all, and it was noted that the winning time was a full THREE seconds faster than that of Golden Lilac who won the French 1000 Guineas on the same afternoon.
His performances dried up thereafter though with ground not to his liking. A run in the French Derby proved fruitless, but could evidently be ignored due to the soft ground and a bad trip. He then had another awful in-running trip in a mile Group 1 at Deauville, when he was denied a clear run, but still somehow finished close up.
Tin Horse may eventually prove to be a horse who shows his best form earlier in the season, when given the correct underfoot conditions. This race though looks ideal, as he may need further than a mile and a fast pace to show his best. A negative is that he has not been seen out since last September, but as a horse capable of running well fresh, and given his massive 39-1 winning odds on Betfair, I give him the vote.
Each way punters can salvage 20-1 odds in various places, and these look capable of gaining a nice return should he be back to his best. A forecast with the Favourite Cirrus Des Aigles looks like it would return a sizeable amount as well.
3.40 - Etihad Airways Irish 1000 Guineas (Group 1) 1m (CURRAGH)
I could not emphasise enough yesterday the importance of speed for the colt version of this race, given the fact the ground was riding quick. Horses such as Hermival never had a prayer on better ground, whilst being bred for further. These are tricky Classics to master, but a bet on Reply yesterday, given the ground made logical sense as his stamina for a mile would hardly be tested in the conditions.
A similar feat could well exist this afternoon, and if it does then Homecoming Queen is an alarmingly short priced favourite. Some media outlets in the immediate aftermath of the English 1000 Guineas painted her as the 'Female Frankel', but whilst Frankel establishes a momentum change midway through his races, Homecoming Queen simply blazed out of the gate from the start and held on well.
It is highly likely that the advantage she gained with that early break, won her the race there and then. Other fillies were dawdling and getting to grips with their stride, and some were clearly unable to go on the softer ground. Homecoming Queen is clearly a talented filly, but this race will suit a horse once more who has been bred for a speed test.
The stablemate of the favourite in this event is After, but she herself whilst being bred more for speed, ideally does not require or wish for ground quicker than good to soft. La Collina seems to be the obvious alternative for punters but being a daughter of Strategic Prince, I have to doubt her capability as a older horse at the highest level. When I am betting on a Group 1 for 3+ year olds, I want them to be sired by a Group 1 winner and unfortunately Strategic Prince failed to make his mark at that level.
One filly at a monster price that looks certain to have more claims than her initial odds suggest is the Mick Channon trained SAMITAR. She is a pacesetter herself who will more than likely have to track the favourite in this event, but she is built more for a mile on quick ground than Homecoming Queen is.
The other possible and well backed horse is the improving Yellow Rosebud, but there appears to be an assumption as to what her capabilities actually are. She has a couple of Group 3 entries after this race marked on her calendar, and it may well be that connections just want to grab some place spoils with her in a below average Group 1.
There are no doubt several chances, but to continue my place form in Guineas events, the bet has to be Samitar at ridiculous (Bet365) 25-1 odds each way. An added bet to place and win on Betfair may appeal more to some with the layers offering a bizarre 39-1 to win.