Curragh Cup – An Ernest Effort
Sun, Curragh, 3.15
Sunday’s Group 3 Curragh Cup over 1m6f (3.15) is a fascinating renewal in which punters will fancy their chances of finding a juicy winner. Only two favourites of the last 12 were victorious, (2007 and 2008).
One of those favourites was Septimus, trained by Aidan O’Brien who has triumphed twice in the race during the aforementioned 12-year period. Some may see that return as a touch small considering the power of Ballydoyle, but they will be looking to win the race again this year courtesy of Ernest Hemingway, who aims for back-to-back wins in the race, having triumphed by over 5l 12 months ago (good to firm) – stablemate El Salvador was a well held fourth (beaten 7l).
Ernest Hemingway had just the one unplaced run prior to last year’s win, and has been given the same preparation this time around, having been unplaced when last seen in Dubai in March, when on that occasion he was eighth, behind the eventual winner Certerach, who also runs on Sunday.
Michael Halford’s 6yo recorded a career best in winning over 1m6f that day (good), where stablemate, Dabadiyan, was 4l back in sixth, and has the class to win this if able to do himself justice following such a break – he has been below-par following such a break previously.
With the aforementioned pair possibly rusty having been absent, fitness could prove vital, in the process bringing Dermot Weld’s, Pale Mimosa, into the equation. This 5yo mare won a Listed race at Leopardstown last summer (1m6f, good to firm), before being outclassed in the Irish St Leger.
She then stayed on to take fourth in a Group 3 at Ascot (2m, soft), before reappearing in May with a 3l third behind subsequent Ascot Gold winner, Leading Light at Navan (1m6f, good). The worry is that she requires 2m or further these days, though her chance will increase if the forecast rain makes this more of a test.
Another female of interest is the 4yo filly, Tarana, who has shown steady improvement after just five outings, winning a Listed race in April (1m5f, soft) when beating El Salvador a nose, before a 2l third in similar company at Leopardstown three weeks ago (1m6f, good). She stayed on strongly on her first attempt at this trip that day, suggesting she won’t be flagging, and the fact she is trained by John Oxx, who won this race four times since 2004, is another eyecatching bonus.
Elsewhere, Johnny Murtagh enters the 5yo, Ursa Major, who won three in a row here at the Curragh in 2012, including a Group 3 over this trip (soft), before being beaten only 5l in the English St Leger. Absent for all of last year, Ursa Major made an encouraging return three weeks ago to get rid of the cobwebs, staying on over 1m2f.
It’s hard to get away from Ernest Hemingway, who has been trained for this race, and is officially the best horse in the race,
though should the rain fall and a more testing 1m6f is on the cards, then Ursa Major could enter the equation.