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Wonderful winner at the Curragh? Get 2019 Irish 1000 Guineas tips

Alpha Centauri winning last year's Irish 1000 Guineas. (credit:PA Wire/PA Archive/PA Images)

Our expert takes a look through the field of fillies taking part in this Classic at the Curragh and provides readers with his tips on Sunday 26th May.

The day after the finest colts in the land strut their stuff on the Curragh, fillies take to the fabled turf at Ireland’s most famous flat venue to take part in the Irish 1000 Guineas. Aidan O’Brien is the winning-most trainer in this Classic, saddling great horses like Imagine and Winter before their victories and the master of Ballydoyle looks set to enter a strong team of challengers as he searches for an eighth Irish 1000 Guineas triumph.

Ahead of the British Guineas earlier this month, I felt Hermosa (5/2 bet365) would be more of an Oaks horse this term and it was no surprise to see Wayne Lordan’s mount set a hot pace to test her rival’s stamina. As a wave of challengers bunched up behind the leader coming out of the dip, I expected Hermosa to fade. On the contrary, Lordon’s mount showed a swift turn of foot to pull away from her rivals and held on gamely to claim Classic glory at Newmarket.

Fairyland (8/1 Paddy Power), who was my ante-post selection for the Guineas, was forced to sit near the rear of the field after landing a poor draw in stall one. Just Wonderful (6/1 Ladbrokes) didn’t fare much better in the draw and Ryan Moore had to bide his time out the back after bursting out of the widest stall of all. Few horses made an impact from off the pace that entire weekend and the two Ballydoyle fillies did well just to finish in the top six. Given a more favourable draw and more prominent riding tactics, both should produce improved performances at the Curragh.

Fleeting (33/1 bet365) was the fourth and final Ballydoyle horse to run at Newmarket, but after finishing a tailed-off last, it’s hard to see how she can improve upon that performance this weekend. Coral Beech (33/1 Ladbrokes) skipped Newmarket to prepare for the French version of this Classic. Ryan Moore’s mount shaped nicely enough when crossing the line four lengths behind the victors at Longchamp, but she will have to improve significantly if she wants to be competitive at the Curragh. 

Many experts, including myself, expected Iridessa (8/1 Paddy Power) to put in a strong showing at Newmarket. Sadly, the 2018 Fillies’ Mile winner struggled for pace on her return to the Rowley Mile, finishing eighth after tracking Hermosa for much of the trip. Iridessa was another horse I fancied might turn out to be an Oaks candidate in 2019. Joseph O’Brien’s claims that a mile was her best trip put an end to that notion and you’d expect Iridessa to come on from that reappearance.

A third trainer named O’Brien features in this year’s Irish Guineas, with Richard John O’Brien choosing to throw Dean Street Doll (33/1 bet365) into the mix, despite watching his filly finish second in the Trial at Leopardstown. Paddy Twomey’s Foxtrot Liv (33/1 Paddy Power) rounds off the Irish contenders, having earned her spot in this Classic with a simple six length success at Killarney. I doubt either of the betting back-markers will be able to follow in the footsteps of Alpha Centauri, who carried lengthy odds into the winners’ enclosure 12 months ago.

The British contingent in this year’s Irish 1000 Guineas is lead by Qabala (11/4 Ladbrokes), who continued her excellent seasonal form with a strong third behind Hermosa at Newmarket. Roger Varian’s runaway Nell Gwyn Stakes winner went off as the favourite for that Classic and was held up off the pace. David Egan was forced a little wider than he would have hoped as he tried to track down the leader and, after making up some good ground around the outside of Iridessa and Fairyland, Qabala ran out of steam in the final 100 yards.

Kevin Ryan sidestepped Newmarket to hand East (10/1 Paddy Power) a crack at the French 1000 Guineas. An eye-catching, staying-on second behind the imperious Newspaperofrecord at the Breeders’ Cup, East came from the clouds once against to snatch a place at Longchamp. While East has proven herself to be a classy filly, a tactical rethink may be necessary before the Curragh, as I doubt hold-up tactics will work out with so much pace on the front-end.

Considering Pretty Pollyanna (10/1 Ladbrokes) ended last season as the top-rated filly in Europe, some will find it surprising to see Michael Bell’s Prix Morny winner sitting on a double-figure price. Bell’s charge tried a mile just once last season, finishing a one-paced third in the Fillies’ Mile and Pretty Pollyanna has a couple of early-season setbacks to overcome in this super-competitive Classic.

Qabala is clearly the best of the British bunch and it’s obvious there’s more to come from this likeable filly. Joseph O’Brien’s Iridessa should be more competitive on home soil, but his father’s hand in this Classic is looking particularly strong and it would be unwise to side against Ireland’s premier trainer.

You cannot deny that Hermosa was a worthy winner of British 1000 Guineas and she could be tough to pass. Yet, the likely pacemaker will be there to be shot at once again and JUST WONDERFUL could be on-hand to upset her stablemate.

Unlike Fairyland, who struggled to see out the trip on her first start over a mile, Just Wonderful did her best work in the final furlong at Newmarket. Ryan Moore experienced plenty of traffic problems as he attempted to tread a path through the field. Once she found some open air, Just Wonderful warmed to her task nicely and made up plenty of ground in the closing stages.

Despite winning the Group Two Shadwell Rockfel Stakes, Just Wonderful’s best juvenile performance came here at the Curragh, where the daughter of Dansili comfortably saw off Peach Tree and Fleeting to claim a Group Three prize over course-and-distance. I would be amazed if her jockey conceded ten lengths to Hermosa at the start, like Ryan Moore did at Newmarket. Just Wonderful shaped like she would come on for the run in the British Guineas and she could pounce late in the day to hand Aidan O’Brien yet another Classic.

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Wonderful winner at the Curragh? Get 2019 Irish 1000 Guineas tips

Our expert takes a look through the field of fillies taking part in this Classic at the Curragh and provides readers with his tips on Sunday 26th May

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