Curragh Derby Weekend Free Racing Tips 2015

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2.45pm – Air Pilot 4/6 with Bet365

4.30pm – Legatissimo 7/4 with Bet365
5.00pm – Bubbly Bellini at 14/1 EW with Bet365 & Cruise Tothelimit at 50/1 EW
5.30pm – Bondi Beach at 8/1 EW with Bet365

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Sunday 2.45pm – International Stakes (Group 3) – 1m 2f

Free Tip: Air Pilot at 4/6 with Bet365

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After putting in a lot of hours running through the horses at the early declaration stage imagine our bitter disappointment to see just the three runners finally declared for this valuable Group Three event. Shocking is the first word that springs to mind with little if any chance of any value in the race added to the thorny question of race tactics, which may yet mean the best horse doesn’t win regardless of what any of us may think.

With just the three at least we can add a little pen picture of each starting with the very highly regarded Parish Hall (13/8), now a six year old but still in the care of Jim Bolger and still a horse of some ability. We remember the whispers of electrifying home gallops and talk of the 2012 Epsom Derby after he won the Dewhurst Stakes as a two year old, but it wasn’t to be and a year off through injury put pay to his classic campaign. To be harsh, he has never really recaptured his juvenile form ever since despite winning four more races, none of which have been above this level with any attempt at something better ending in disappointment. We wonder if he has been living off of his reputation for a touch too long now and although he is still pretty decent, he may still find one too good for him today and an English raider at that! Air Pilot (4/6) represents the yard of Ralph Beckett and at the weights is officially the best horse in the race (same rating as Parish Hall but receives three pounds), and if Ryan Moore can get back in to the winning habit again, then he is the one they all have to beat. One race this season saw him finish third to Maverick Wave at Chester but he has since been saved for this (apparently), and would be the one to back assuming the race gets an injection of early pace, though where from, so do not be too surprised if he ends up having to make his own running. The third horse may yet win if you subscribe to the old “outsider of three” principle, as we are 99.9% certain that Roheryn (10/1) will be a big price on the day.  She did place last time out when third of four in a similar class race over a mile and a half at Cork, but was beaten a long way that day and has never won anything better than a solitary Listed race so really and truly ought to be hopelessly outclassed barring tactical mistakes by both other jockeys.  In conclusion, we would not like to second guess how this race will be run with Roheryn the obvious front runner (but is she fast enough to even do the job), and the two big guns sat in his slip stream toying with each other waiting to see who will go for home and when in what could be a brilliant race to watch but a difficult one to bet in!

Sunday 4.30pm – Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes (Group 1) – 1m 2f

Free Tip: Legatissimo at 7/4 with Bet365

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As you would have possibly guessed those fillies avoiding their male rivals in the earlier races are largely being re routed here to take on their own sex, though whether that makes life any easier is difficult to guess until we see the final fields. Legatissimo (7/4) shows up here and she will almost certainly go off favourite and deservedly so. Running on powerfully over the mile at Newmarket she took our 1000 Guineas under Ryan Moore before heading off to Epsom for the Oaks where she was done on the line by Qualify who avoids her here and prefers a crack at the Irish Derby. The drop back in trip to a mile and a quarter here really ought to suit the filly perfectly, and if we were betting men (which funnily enough – we are), then Legatissimo is the one who holds most of the aces in a fascinating contest.

Naturally, she will not have things all her own way and her older rivals seem sure to have something to say, headed by Brooch (5/1) who is unbeaten in her four race career which makes her a filly of interest. The daughter of Empire Maker does have to give weight away to her younger rivals and is stepping up in trip and class here which may be just about enough to stop her though she did see off Duke Of Cambridge Stakes winner Amazing Maria when last seen, so we ignore her chances at our possible cost. Back to the three year olds again and Pleascach (5/1) make it even more interesting as the Irish 1000 Guineas winner (who was then runner up in the Ribblesdale Stakes) takes on her English winning compatriot. She is also a class act who was possibly bullied out of it at Royal Ascot so it will be interesting to see what tactics her rivals employ here, and classy as she is they may have found a flaw in her attitude which they seem pretty sure to exploit given half a chance.

Secret Gesture (8/1) is not one to take too lightly either as the Epsom Oaks runner up of 2013 looks to add to her career prize money haul of over £400,000. She won last time out to prove her wellbeing in a Group Two at York when making all the running and seems likely to have improved a few pounds for the race, though again we just have that sneaking fear that the three year old fillies this year are an above average bunch, and trying to give them close to a stone could be a bit too much to ask of anyone.  Lastly, we are great fans of International racing and as John Hammond has sent Pollyana (40/1) over from France it would be rude of us not to give her a mention. A six year old daughter of Whipper she isn’t really up to this class on all known form (one Group Two win from seven attempts in Group company), but her trainer is nobody’s fool and he must feel she can pick up more black type and a bit of the place prize money.

Sunday 5.00pm – Tote Rockingham Handicap – 5f

Free Tip: Bubbly Bellini each way at 14/1 with Bet365

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We suspect the term “hell for leather” will be oft quoted by the time they end this five furlong handicap which seems to be run flat out from the moment the stalls open until the winner flashes past the post, though who that will be is the big question. There is a theory that a high draw could be advantageous but that depends on the final field size (which we now know is 24), and we will be taking that in to account. With so little to go on it seems to make good sense to at least look at the in form horses and that has to mean we kick things off with Ostatnia (20/1) who is looking to land her hat trick here. Only a three year old, it seems safe to suggest that the daughter of Amadeus Wolf may still have room to improve even further with experience and age. After places at Dundalk and Cork she has won her last two races at the same venues in the same order, each one under jockey Billy Lee (who is replaced by Leigh Roche this afternoon), the last one in a first time visor that saw a relatively comfortable victory by a length in a five furlong handicap. She has been put up seven pounds for her last win so this wont be a cakewalk and has to run form out of the weights but she is the in form option and worthy of consideration. Top weight is given to Caspian Prince (25/1) who represents Tony Carroll, a superb trainer underestimated by punters and press alike  – to their cost.  His rating here of 105 is a drop believe it or not as he has been bouncing between handicaps and Group races and may have a bit too much on his plate here, but a place is very much a possibility and it couldn’t happen to a nicer trainer.

Each way punters will be naturally drawn to Bubbly Bellini (14/1) and perhaps rightly so as the eight year old has finished in the first three places in his last six races. A winner at Cork when last seen, he has actually gone DOWN a pound for that win (go figure?), so could be considered very well in today, and granted a decent draw looks very difficult to keep out of the first three on these terms assuming the bit of give he needs in the ground to be seen at his best.  Paul Midgley had other options for the race but has decided to reply on Desert Law (10/1) and we wouldn’t blame anyone for taking that hint. Now a seven year old, he won over this trip at Epsom when last seen in action and has the added benefit of a high draw in the 22 stall, leaving him with an excellent each way chance in a race that just gets more difficult the longer we study the form!

Cruise Tothelimit (50/1) is just outside the weights with an extra 1lb to carry, but while he’s been disappointing the last twice he’s well in on his Chester 3rd in the Boodles Diamond Handicap – a valuable Class 2 race. That was only in May and while he’s inconsistent there’s a win in him off this mark if he’s firing today.

Sunday 5.30pm – At The Races Curragh Cup (Group 3) – 1m 6f

Free Tip: Bondi Beach at 8/1 with Bet365

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A mile and three quarter race ends our write up here and we love this distance, a potent mix of the required stamina to get home and the speed to travel in the race as needed, to be good enough to be there at the death. To our shock, Gold Cup favourite Forgotten Rules (4/7) is set to line up here though surely his third place at Royal Ascot a mere ten days ago over two and a half miles must have taken something out of him.  That was the five year olds first loss after four consecutive victories that started with a bumper win at Punchestown, and considering the ground was way faster than he prefers (we are confident he would have been pulled out of any race but the Gold Cup), so was nothing whatsoever to be ashamed of, though whether he retains the speed for a mile and three quarters is open to question now?  He is a class act, no mistake about that but to reappear so quickly would be an almost superhuman (superhorse?) effort, and at the likely prices we do wonder if he will be lacking any value? At the weights we once again return to the Aidan O’Brien yard and Order Of St George (6/1), yet to race as a three year old but reasonable if nothing special last season. One easy win in a Leopardstown a maiden is not a lot to write home about (the runner up is yet to win since), and although he gets all the weight he is no good thing despite the jockey booking.

Ryan Moore presumably chose him ahead of Bondi Beach (8/1) so he must be working well, but after 2345 days off the track they are asking a lot of the son of  (you guessed it) Galileo. His stable mate is a blank canvas having won his maiden at the first attempt this May at Leopardstown which he followed with a half length second to Irish Derby entry Radanpour and although he will be ridden by Seamie Heffernan do not be fooled – we feel he has a pretty decent chance of a place at least. Nothing else really ought to get remotely involved to be honest, though Panama Hat (6/1) would be an amusing winner as we build up toward Glorious Goodwood we suppose – he has got some half decent form but at these weights a minor place is surely the best he can realistically hope for?

Saturday 5.50pm – GAIN Railway Stakes (Group 2) – 6f

Free Tip: Log Out Island at 11/10 with Bet365

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What a disappointing turn out numerically with just the five runners set to go to post for this important and valuable event. It makes sense to go through them all in racecard order, which means we start with Argentero (7/2) as our first option. Trained by the ever shrewd Ger Lyons, he has a two out of three win record after victories at Naas as well as a second to Round Two (who does not re-oppose here after running at Royal Ascot), and on pure form and ignoring the likely improvers, the son of Zoffany comes here with a bit of a chance. To our surprise, Richard Hannon has decided to allow Norfolk Stakes runner up Log Out Island (11/10) to run again a mere nine days after his Royal Ascot efforts. He ran on strongly without ever looking likely to get past Waterloo Bridge but may be better suited by the sixth furlong here, and if they think he has recovered sufficiently then presumably he has and reading the formbook, he is the most likely winner by far.

Painted Cliffs (6/1) represents Aidan O’Brien who ought to know exactly where he stands with Log Out Island as he also trains Waterloo Bridge which makes the son of Canford Cliffs an intriguing option.  His debut eighth was anything but inspiring but he then won his maiden at Leopardstown in first time blinkers with plenty in hand though what the form adds up to is open to question at this early stage.  He already wears blinkers, which generally speaking isn’t a long term positive (name a top class classic winner wearing blinkers in recent years?), and we are amazed that Ballydoyle have decided to rely on him in a race they won for five consecutive years from 2005 to 2009.

Rockaway Valley (4/1) is almost as much of an unknown quantity with just the maiden win to his name as well but it was over course and distance which we see as a good thing, and by a wide margin after making all the running. Trained by Mrs Harrington he is in good hands and cannot be written off as easily as some may think in a race that looks as though it will go to whoever is the biggest improver.  Lastly, we have the likely rank outsider in Jim Bolger’s Saafarr (33/1) who has only had the one run when sixth to Rockaway Valley over course and distance. He didn’t look very good that day to be honest and it would be the biggest shock of the day were he to win, but then Jim Bolger is nobody’s fool and if he wants to run him we do have to wonder why? A son of Teofilo who was trained by the same Mr Bolger, he is owned by Godolphin (who are also represented by Log Out Island), meaning conspiracy theorists will feel he may be there as a pacemaker for the Hannon beast, though of course all horses are there to run on their own merits in a race – allegedly!

Saturday 6.30pm – Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Group 1) – 1m 4f

Free Tip: Jack Hobbs at 10/11 with Bet365

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One glance at the lop sided betting and we can soon see the oddsmakers have defined the Epsom Derby as the best middle distance race in Europe so far as they had runner up Jack Hobbs (10/11) tagged as odds on favourite even at the early declaration stage.  Historically, Epsom winners have regularly headed here to double up but with John Gosden embarrassed by his three year old riches he sends Derby winner Golden Horn to the Coral Eclipse, and his runner up here. Only three and a half lengths behind the winner and four and a half lengths and more clear of the rest of the field, this is the first real acid test of that form, and at odds on we cannot seriously oppose him (however hard we try) as he seems close to certain to take first prize. Reports of some excellent gallops in Newmarket only go to back up our original thoughts and although we are very worried by Highland Reel as a danger (see below), the formbook rarely lies.

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Eight of the last ten renewals have gone to Aidan O’Brien but no real surprise there with the likes of Camelot, Australia and Fame And Glory on the rostrum, and once again he has left us all trying to second guess his movements here. Close to half of the long-range entries galloped at Ballydoyle but the betting suggests that Derby fourth Giovanni Canaletto (11/1) will be the second string with Joseph O’Brien in the saddle. He was a running on fourth at Epsom and we fully expected him to be the first string here but as Ryan Moore rides Highland Reel (9/2) we reluctantly assume he is the number one? Runner up to New Bay in the Prix Du Jockey Club over a quarter of a mile or so less, he stayed on strongly that day and although we haven’t really seen either race form properly tested yet, if Ryan thinks this is the one to be on then really he ought to know best and we could be in for a fascinating contest.

Storm The Stars (9/1) turns out again after his Epsom third for William Haggas and seems sure to run a bold race though we feel that they need to revert back to front running tactics as they did when he scored at Goodwood, tactics that could have a few of these off the bridle earlier than they would like with stamina very much on his side. He is brave and strong and sure to run well again but the St leger seems more his cup of tea and we narrowly prefer the chances of Radanpour (20/1).  You really can’t knock an unbeaten horse, especially one trained by the ultra canny Dermot Weld? Three runs and three wins have seen a maiden, a rated race and most recently a Listed event at Leopardstown where he was all out to keep the lead, and although the form of those races isn’t anywhere near to that of the main contenders, beauty is as beauty does and he can do no more than win when asked.

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