war command racing

Irish 2000 Guineas – Curragh Runners & Odds

The Curragh on Saturday sets the scene for Ireland’s first Classic of the season in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

The runner-up of the English version, Kingman (4/7), aims to go one better for trainer John Gosden on Saturday. Beaten just 1/2l by Night Of Thunder at Newmarket (1m, good to firm), Kingman was considered a touch unfortunate not to bag the big prize that day, as he had to race in a separate group on the far side of the straight, away from the main action and winner, Night Of Thunder.

It’s possible the ground was not suitable either, as Kingman prefers a bit of ease, which he may well get at the Curragh. The only slight concern is the poor record of placed runners from the English 2,000 Guineas in the Irish equivalent, with only Canford Cliffs in recent times improving from third to first place at the Curragh.

However, it’s worth noting that runners who were well beaten at Newmarket demonstrated reversed form weeks later by winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas, as can be seen via Power and Roderic O’Connor in the last three years alone. Both runners struggled at Newmarket, but their trainer, Aidan O’Brien, managed to get them back on song at the Curragh, and the Ballydoyle maestro has a similar type in War Command (7/1) this time around.

This Group 1 winning juvenile finished ninth of 14 in the 2,000 Guineas three weeks ago, beaten some 5l by runner-up, Kingman, but he is capable of turning that form around on Sunday, especially if the sun shines and the ground dries out.

One who has yet to face Group 1 rivals is Dermot Weld’s Mustajeeb (6/1), who at this stage looks as though he could represent the yard instead of Alkasser (16/1). Mustajeeb showed he had improved as a 3yo when making a winning reappearance at Leopardstown a fortnight ago, quickening nicely to land a Group 3 by over 2l (1m, soft).

Although beaten 3l by War Command here at the Curragh over 7f last August, Mustajeeb has clearly improved since that meeting, and looks sure to run Aidan O’Brien’s runner a lot closer on Sunday.

But, with two Irish 2,000 Guineas winners having triumphed in this race at 12/1 over the last 10 years, runners at bigger odds cannot be dismissed, including Ballydoyle’s Great White Eagle (14/1), who was fourth in a Listed company on his return here three weeks ago (7f, good to firm), while Ger Lyons’ Obliterator (16/1), was also beaten 7l in Listed grade at Newmarket last month (1m1f, good).

Considering O’Brien has won the race five times in the last six years, none of his army can be ignored, including Fountain Of Youth (25/1), Johan Strauss (25/1) and Michaelmas (20/1), although with the majority of his Irish 2,000 Guineas winners fairly fancied in the market, the vote has to go to War Command, to reverse form with Kingman from Newmarket. At 7/1, he rates the each-way value.

But, if your mind hasn’t been made up, here are the trends covering the last 18 Irish 2,000 Guineas winners…

All 18 winners raced during the last two months – the last to make a winning reappearance was in 1991.
17 had 3-7 career outings.
16 were non-British-bred; 11 were Irish, 4 were American, and 1 French.
16 won over 6f-1m.
16 won as juveniles.
15 arrived via the English or French Guineas, with the former a big pointer since 2002.
15 won in Pattern class; eight in a Group 1, four in a Group 2 or 3, and three in Listed.
Going back to Newmarket’s 2,000 Guineas, those that finished unplaced or won did better – Henrythenavigator was the sixth to do the Guineas double since 1987. The three exceptions avoiding a Guineas beforehand were Aidan O’Brien‘s and won Pattern races last time out. Godolphin won it twice and had a second.