Contender profiles and trainer views for the fillies' Classic
Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas (Group 1) | 1m, 3yo | RTE1/ATR
The Irish 1,000 Guineas will forever hold a special place in Aidan O'Brien's heart as 21 years ago it was the scene of his first Classic triumph, when Classic Park was successful.
Victory in the latest edition of the Curragh Classic, in which he is represented by Happily, Clemmie, Could It Be Love and Most Gifted, would make O'Brien the most successful trainer in the history of the race.
Winter last year made it win number seven for O'Brien, a total also achieved by Hubert Hartigan between 1928 and 1954.
Happily, a dual Group 1 winner last year when she landed the Moyglare Stud Stakes before taking on and beating the colts in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, heads the Ballydoyle team having run third in the 1,000 Guineas.
O'Brien said of Ryan Moore's mount: "We think Happily has improved since Newmarket and that the Curragh mile will suit her well.
"She's a filly who will stay further. She's in good form and we're very happy with her."
Clemmie, who rounded off her juvenile campaign by landing the Cheveley Park Stakes, will be racing beyond six furlongs for the first time.
With three wins, her rider Seamie Heffernan has the best record in the race of any jockey competing this year.
A sister to last year's dual 2,000 Guineas winner Churchill, Clemmie was due to start her season in the Guineas at Newmarket but had to miss the race due to a hold-up.
"Clemmie is an exciting filly," said O'Brien. "She's been working well and is just ready to start off.
"We're hoping she runs well but there should be plenty of improvement in her between now and Royal Ascot."
The trainer added: "Could It Be Love ran quite well in the French Guineas and wasn't beaten far. She's in good form and should run a good race.
"Most Gifted won a maiden at Cork quite recently and, while she came out of the race well, this will be a big step up for her."
Happily pros Proven Group 1 performer who can be expected to have come on since finishing a good third at Newmarket
Happily cons Her two Group 1 wins last year were achieved on slow ground
Clemmie pros Smart performer last year, progressively winning at Group 3, Group 2 and Group 1 level
Clemmie cons Taking big step up in trip on her first start of the year and had a hold-up which ruled her out of Newmarket
Change of tactics for Soliloquy?
Godolphin have never won the Irish 1,000 Guineas but in the shape of Soliloquy have high hopes of breaking their duck.
She was on Saturday vying for second-favouritism with Clemmie, behind Happily, at around the 5-1 mark.
The Charlie Appleby-trained filly had been supplemented for the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on the strength of her comeback win in the Nell Gwyn Stakes, in which she had subsequent 1,000 Guineas winner Billesdon Brook back in fourth.
A change to hold-up tactics may not have helped her in the 1,000 Guineas, when she could never land a blow from off the pace and finished sixth, three and a quarter lengths shy of the winner, and three places and a length behind Happily.
On a more positive note, Soliloquy looked the business when cantering at Appleby's private facility at Moulton Paddocks in Newmarket on Saturday, and there may be a rethink on tactics.
Appleby said: "Soliloquy has come out of Newmarket very well and if she reproduces the Nell Gwyn performance it will obviously make her very competitive.
"We did change her running style in the 1,000 Guineas, which probably didn't suit her in hindsight. She goes there in good form and has no excuses this time around.
"I'm not going to say we'll be making the running but we may make more use of her as William [Buick] said holding her up was taking her out of her stride at Newmarket."
After watching the filly canter five furlongs before heading off to Ireland, Appleby said: "She enjoyed a gentle canter and we're very much looking forward to the race."
Pros Return to prominent tactics should suit, especially if she can sit on the shoulder of one of the O'Brien pacemakers
Cons Suspicion the Nell Gwyn was her 1,000 Guineas and that others have since caught up
Trial ace Steph steps up
Winner of both of Leopardstown's 1,000 Guineas Trials, Who's Steph was purchased by George Strawbridge after the second of those wins and has been supplemented for the Classic at a cost of €30,000.
Trainer Ger Lyons said of Colin Keane's mount: "Who's Steph is certainly good enough to take her chance. Off her current rating she's still shy of being a Guineas filly and she'll have to improve.
"But you would like to think that she has the ability to finish in the first four, and anything after that would be a bonus.
"As Mr Strawbridge said, there's only one Guineas and that's why we're in the game."
Pros Progressive filly who won both her trials
Cons Has plenty of improvement to find if she is to beat a few higher rated rivals
What they say
Kevin Prendergast, trainer of Alghabrah
She couldn't be in better form. It's a very good race but I think she'll run well. She's come on since her last run at Leopardstown and she'll like the ground.
Alan Cooper, racing manager to the Niarchos family, owners of Alpha Centauri
She's thrived since Leopardstown. We had to get a run into her as she'd been off the track for so long. She didn't handle the ground at all that day but did a very nice piece of work at Leopardstown after racing a couple of weeks back. The race has definitely brought her forward and Jessie [Harrington] is very happy with her. We look like getting good fast ground and a fast pace and I think we're all expecting a much brighter performance.
Dermot Weld, trainer of Chiara Luna and Yulong Gold Fairy
I thought Chiara Luna ran a very nice race in the Leopardstown Guineas Trial. She'll appreciate the faster ground and I give her a good each-way chance. Yulong Gold Fairy likes ease, so for her a thunder shower or two would be welcome.
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