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Skardu to spring upset at the Curragh? Get 2019 Irish 2000 Guineas tips

A view of the finish during the 2017 Irish 2000 Guineas. (credit:PA Wire/PA Archive/PA Images)

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the first Irish Classic at the Curragh and provides readers with his tips for Saturday 25th May.

ITV Racing viewers will be in for a rare treat on Saturday afternoon, as the broadcaster has secured the rights to screen the Irish 2000 Guineas live for the very first time. The Irish version of this fabled Classic was first run at the Curragh in 1921 and has been won by some of the sport’s finest colts, with the names of Grundy, Dubawi and Rock Of Gibraltar glittering on the honours boards at this famous venue.

12 months ago, 25/1 outsider Romanised sprung a surprise, surging home from the rear of the field to deny three of Aidan O’Brien contenders. The Ballydoyle battalion in this year’s Irish 2000 Guineas will be lead by Magna Grecia (4/5 William Hill), who will attempt to land the Guineas double after scoring at Newmarket earlier in the month.

The 2018 Vertem Futurity Trophy winner was the bookie’s second-favourite to win that Classic before the off, with many preferring the chances of Ten Sovereigns. Donnacha O’Brien settled his mount down behind Shine So Bright in a three-horse group along the inside rail. That proved to be somewhat of a golden highway, with Magna Grecia being followed over the line by 66/1 outsider, King Of Change as the main group down the centre of the pack failed to keep stride with their rivals down the rail.

I would be shocked if O’Brien fired just one arrow at the Irish Guineas, so you can expected a couple of Magna Grecia’s bunkmates to make an appearance at the Curragh. Never No More (10/1 bet365) was withdrawn from the French equivalent of this Classic when the ground came up heavy. This son of No Nay Never has plenty to build on after pipping Madhmoon to victory in the Listed Trial at Leopardstown and could be the O’Brien runner to watch outside the market leader.

Sydney Opera House (25/1 bet365) would be the likely pacemaker for Magna Grecia, having flopped on his reappearance in the Ballysax Stakes. Mount Everest (25/1 Paddy Power) showed plenty of smart form as a juvenile, most notably a narrow loss to stablemate Japan in the Beresford Stakes and could be a danger should this be chosen as the scene of his return.

William Haggas’ Skardu (7/1 William Hill) came off the bridle much sooner than the likes of Ten Sovereigns and Madhmoon - who also occupied births down the middle of the Rowley Mile - but responded to pressure really well before pipping his highly-rated rivals in the race for third place. This year’s Craven winner will be hoping for a little more luck in the draw as he squares off against Magna Grecia again and William Haggas will be hopeful his colt can turn the tables on his Newmarket conqueror.

Advertise (16/1 Paddy Power) was my ante-post tip for the 2000 Guineas earlier in the season and I was confident Martyn Meade’s Group One winner would see out the mile. Had I known the drift Frankie Dettori’s mount would endure on the day of the race, however, I would certainly have changed my selection and it was no real surprise to see Advertise trail over the line a long, long way behind the winner.

Royal Marine (25/1 William Hill) also under-performed massively in the Guineas, accompanying Advertise over the line as the duo finished 13th and 15th respectively. Despite only finishing fourth on his reappearance, Saeed Bin Suroor’s colt was well-backed on the day of the Guineas and he, like Advertise, has plenty more to offer than that performance at Newmarket suggests.

Paddy Twomey will be hopeful Decrypt (12/1 William Hill) can follow in Romanised’s footsteps by landing a surprise victory in the Guineas. This son of Dark Angel showed plenty of pace over six furlongs last season, but handled the step up to seven furlongs beautifully when sealing a three-length triumph over some decent rivals on his reappearance here at the Curragh. While that performance was impressive, Decrypt will have to find a new level of form if he wants to hang with the proven Grouped performers at the head of the market.

Dermot Weld’s unbeaten colt Shelir (14/1 Paddy Power) could make an appearance in this Classic, having seen off Eclipse Storm to win the Listed Tetrarch Stakes on this track earlier this month. I Am Superman (25/1 bet365) was the favourite that day, but could only labour over the line a well-beaten fifth. Michael O’Callaghan’s colt could renew rivalries with Shelir at the Curragh, but both only have slim hopes of featuring in the finish.

John Gosden captured the imagination of the public today when he announced Too Darn Hot (5/1 Paddy Power)  could make a surprise outing in this Irish Classic. After missing the British equivalent through injury, last year's Dewhurst winner lost his unbeaten record when outstayed by Telecaster in the Dante. Nonetheless, that was a very pleasing return to action for last year's star juvenile and if he does make the trip to the Curragh, the rest of the field could be in for a whole heap of trouble. I am, however, rather sceptical about his chances of appearing and Too Darn Hot will more than likely be saved for Royal Ascot.

Of the other British entrants, Phoenix Of Spain (10/1 William Hill) is the only likely runner in this year’s Irish Guineas. Charlie Hill’s imposing colt stole my affections with a series of impressive performances last term, securing victory in the Acomb Stakes at York before finishing second behind Too Darn Hot in the Champagne Stakes, and second again to Magna Grecia at Doncaster.

Jamie Spencer was hard at work much sooner than he would have liked in the Vertem Futurity Trophy, but there was still only a neck between Phoenix Of Spain and Magna Grecia when the leaders crossed the line. While there are no doubts in my mind that Phoenix Of Spain can cut it at this sort of level, the fact he hasn’t appeared yet suggests Charlie Hills’ colt has taken longer than expected to come to hand and I will wait until this dazzling grey is stepped up in distance a little later in the campaign.

I’m not denying that Magna Grecia was a worthy winner of the Guineas and he could be hard to stop at the Curragh. Yet, given the way the race panned out, it was clear Magna Grecia gained some sort of advantage from where he was positioned on the track. There’s an argument to suggest SKARDU ran just as well to finish third from an unfavourable draw and there’s plenty of value in backing William Haggas’ raider at his current price.

Having been placed in stall three, James Doyle had to duck left as soon as the gates opened to find some cover. Doyle was already working hard to stay prominent as the runners entered the dip, muscling between Set Piece and the fading Emaraaty Ana to find a clear view of the winning post.

The group down the centre never came close to catching their rivals along the rail, so for Skardu to plug on and head the main pack - ahead of talented horses like Madhmoon and Ten Sovereigns - may have felt like a victory in of itself. The way Skardu responded to Doyle’s urgings on both his start this term suggests there’s more to come from William Haggas’ colt and he has the ability to upset Magna Grecia on, what everyone is hoping will be, a level playing field.

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Skardu to spring upset at the Curragh? Get 2019 Irish 2000 Guineas tips

Our expert takes a look through the betting for the first Irish Classic at the Curragh and provides readers with his tips for Saturday 25th May.

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