Irish 2000 Guineas Tips: Vega to hand Harrington Classic glory

Irish 2000 Guineas Tips: A classy field bid for Classic glory at the Curragh this weekend.
Irish 2000 Guineas Tips: A classy field bid for Classic glory at the Curragh this weekend.

We preview the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas and pick out our best bet for the Curragh Classic, which is run on Saturday afternoon...

There's a mouth-watering two-day card at the Curragh this weekend, as the Guineas Festival provides two sparkling renewals of the Irish Classics, and while the Irish 1000 Guineas takes centre stage on Sunday, it's the Irish 2000 Guineas that hogs the limelight on Saturday with a stellar cast assembled for the prestigious event.

The key formline for this event is the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, which was run a few weeks ago, and the winner that day was the Jim Bolger-trained Poetic Flare, who is bidding for a monumental Guineas double. Sent off a relatively unfancied 16/1 chance for the English equivalent, the son of New Approach showed tremendous battling qualities to fend off Master Of The Seas and Lucky Vega, who finished within half a length of the Bolger raider.

However, having blossomed at Newmarket, the star three-year-old failed to fire in the French 2000 Guineas when finishing sixth, as he seemed to struggle with the soft ground. Conditions could prove to be similar at the Curragh, so while he has to be respected he may struggle to emulate his run at English Flat HQ and can be ignored.

With Master Of The Seas not taking his chance, Lucky Vega is the next one to take a look at when referencing the Guineas form, and the Jessica Harrington-trained raider can comfortably reverse the Newmarket form, and can strike for the dual-purpose trainer this weekend. The Lope De Vega colt was very free through the early stages of the Newmarket Group 1 before struggling to find a decent turn of foot in the dip. As he met the rising ground, Lucky Vega began to pick up once again and was duly eating into Poetic Flare's lead in the shadow of the post.

Having shown a real liking for the Curragh when winning the Phoenix Stakes as a two-year-old, Lucky Vega can taste more Group 1 success by showing a stunning turn of foot to pull clear of his rivals in the closing stages, and duly hand the former Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer a Classic winner on home soil.

With a staggering 11 wins in the race, Aidan O'Brien is a man that has to be respected - regardless of what he saddles in the race - and the master of Ballydoyle will unleash a three-pronged attack at this year's renewal. Spearheading the O'Brien trio is Wembley, who will be the mount of stable jockey Ryan Moore, and is on the comeback mission as he disappointed at Newmarket. Well fancied in the lead-up to the race, Wembley failed to fire at all, but having finished second in the National Stakes at the Curragh as a two-year-old, he has to be respected.

Battleground was backed into favourite for the 2000 Guineas earlier this season, but like Wembley he failed to land a blow on the leading protagonists. The former Royal Ascot winner, who also bagged Group glory in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood as a juvenile, needs to show his class as a three-year-old, and he could well be the weakest contender of the O'Brien three. Van Gogh is an eye-catching contender, as while he made no mark at Newmarket, he could be a progressive horse this season. A potential Derby contender at Epsom in a few weeks, this could be a race used as a springboard to that Classic, but he's shown that he has bundles of talent (won Group 1 at Saint-Cloud as a two-year-old), and at double-figured odds he could offer each-way value.

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Two other notable contenders a little further down the betting worth mentioning are the Charlie Appleby-trained La Barrosa, who chased home the aforementioned Master Of The Seas in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket. Beaten in France last season by Van Gogh, the Godolphin raider appeared to kick on on his first start this year in the Craven, and with Master Of The Seas having franked the form in the Guineas then Appleby's charge is a fascinating contender.

Bolger's first string may be Poetic Flare, but the veteran handler also saddles Mac Swiney, who may have been no match for Derby favourite Bolshoi Ballet over ten furlongs in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial two weeks ago, but a drop back to one mile for this test should play to his strengths and the Vertem Futurity Trophy winner from last season adds more depth to a race that can go the way of a real superstar in Lucky Vega, who can claim Classic success for the Harrington team.

Irish 2000 Guineas
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