It’s Silver Medal for Gold as Favourites are Floored
Galileo Gold looked to boast rock solid credentials for Saturdays Irish 2000 Guineas following a classy display in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. The disappointing Air Force Blue posed the main threat according to the bookies with many retaining the faith that he would yet rediscover his two year old dominance.
It was a horse not to have taken part at HQ who led the field a merry dance in the end though, as Kevin Prendergast’s Awtaad took the step up from listed level in his stride. Sire Cape Cross may not be as prolific at the top level as the likes of a Galileo or Dubawi, but when he gets a good one they have a habit of entering the superstar category, witness Ouija Board, Sea The Stars and Golden Horn. Only time will tell if Awtaad will enter that bracket, but there were encouraging words from his octogenarian handler, who rates him superior to the best horse he had previously trained in 13 time Group winner Ardross.
Whilst it is taking some time for a genuine star to emerge from the confusion that is the build up to the 2016 Epsom Derby, the same cannot be said for the St James Palace Stakes. Awtaad would have a chance to stay the Derby trip on pedigree, but the reaction from connections in the aftermath strongly suggest that it is the prestigious one mile contest at Royal Ascot which is the colts preferred target.
Likewise Galileo Gold, who ran a solid race in second at the Curragh and will hope to bridge the gap on better ground at the Royal meeting. With Aidan O’Brien’s The Gurkha also earmarked for that race, especially as it now seems pretty conclusive that Air Force Blue doesn’t stay a mile, we have one of the races of the season brewing, with the winners of the English, French and Irish 2000 Guineas set to do battle in Berkshire.
Whilst the defeat of Galileo Gold was a surprise to many, the result of the Irish 1000 Guineas on Sunday was a shock to all. So imperious was Minding at Newmarket, when winning the 1000 Guineas that she subsequently rocketed to the top of the betting lists not just for The Oaks but also The Derby. She was eclipsed on Sunday by Jet Setting, a horse who had finished over eight lengths behind her at Newmarket. Should anyone ever have any doubt as to the degree ground conditions can affect the result of a race they need only look at this turn around in form, as Jet Setting looks an altogether different proposition granted her favoured give underfoot.
Minding didn’t lose too much in going down by just a head as she battled all the way to the line despite head-butting the gate as the stalls opened and bursting a sinus in the process. With 10 lengths back to the third this still rates a solid effort ahead of The Oaks, where the better ground will enable her to utilise her potent turn of foot to better effect. With Found also being turned over at odds on by Fascinating Rock in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, it was a bad weekend for favourite backers at The Curragh.
It wasn’t only in Ireland where rain appeared to have a dramatic impact on a major race. Over in America it was time for leg two of the Triple Crown as Pimlico hosted the latest running of the Preakness Stakes. Kentucky Derby hero Nyquist was all the rage in the betting but on ground variously described as sloppy, sodden, muddy and a bog he was undone by a horse he had comfortably accounted for in each of their four previous clashes, as proven mud lark Exaggerator landed the spoils for Kent Desormeaux.