The Curragh this coming Saturday looks to be an absolute cracker of a card. With my hands up I won’t lie, Flat racing just doesn’t grab my attention as much as the National Hunt scene in Ireland to date. As those of you that follow my page
, The Peaky Blogger will know, I stay well clear with regard to tipping for the Flat meetings in Ireland but regardless of all that, I will enjoy pushing my boundaries of Irish racing knowledge to bring you the very best I can.
Before we start, a quick history lesson. The Curragh and its general area has always been known as an equine, in particular thoroughbred stronghold in Ireland for generations. The Racing Heartlands of Ireland many people refer to it as, but how and where did the general area become known as “The Curragh”? It is a direct translation of the Gaelic word “Cuirreach” Which means “The land of the running horse”. Here is where it gets interesting. The first ever recorded race in history was in 1727, but during the Viking invasion of Ireland in 795 AD the place names originally changed from their Gaelic meaning, or that is what legend tells us at least. So, if that is the case, racing horses on the hallowed turf of The Curragh could well have been happening for over a thousand years without anyone really able to prove it.
Enough of the history lesson for today, it is time to get our teeth stuck into this hot card and looking through the Listed, and Group contests for this meeting, and I will only be covering these for the simple fact they are the most mouth-watering of the day. The first race is a Listed race for sprinters at 3.10, and with heavy rain expected over the coming days I can honestly see it being a muddy affair, which as you all know it is far from ideal for flat racing. These horses are bred for speed, not hardiness. So, soft ground for flat racing can often throw up a bit of a nightmare card as it can often be anyone’s race. The one I would love to see winning this is Make A Challenge. He is proven on all sorts of ground, but realistically it should be soft if not worse come Saturday. This will particularly play to his strength more so than others. Out of his eight wins, three of them have come on ground soft or worse (37.5%) while if you’re looking at ground worse than good it returns at a lovely (50%). Whether it is Joe Doyle or the brilliantly talented Joey Sheridan riding they should have no trouble scoring and Make A Challenge is well capable of doing just that.
We move swiftly along to the 3.45, a Group Two over 7f for Fillies and to say this is mouth-watering is an understatement! You look at the likes of No Speak Alexander who won impressively at Roscommonn on heavy ground. You can’t go without mentioning the Coolmore Powerhouse with the likes of Finest, Mother Earth, Shale and Snowfall all battling it out, but my attention is firmly stuck on Jim Bolger’s Meala. The more rain that falls the better for this exciting 2 year old. Who can forget the blistering speed she showed in sticky, sloppy ground in Ballybrit on 28 July for the Galway Festival, and I highly recommend you all to take a look at the highlights of the race again where she was breath-taking. Off level weights, on ground she loves I will expect to see her lead a merry procession home at potentially a very nice price considering the Coolmore horses will likely get great attention in the betting market.
The following race we will be looking at will also be the last. The 4.45 The Irish EBF Futurity Stakes, a Group 2 for Colts named after the brilliant Galileo himself. Surely this will be going back to Coolmore here. But there is one slight problem – I haven’t got a single clue what or who will emerge from the pack with four Coolmore horses from the nine listed. They all look to be good ground horses apart from one, Wembley, a horse that just doesn’t scream a superstar when his name is mentioned. On a normal day he is a very lethargic looking horse but credit where it is due, on a good day he puts in some very credible performances. Personally, I would rather take my chances and go with Van Gogh for this race, however. He is unraced on this sort of ground but his breeding suggests that the softening turf may not totally be an issue. Progeny Statistics from Wetherby’s Overview point out 17% of American Pharaoh offspring have been successful so far on soft ground. With his dam being a daughter of Saddlers Wells that suggests that he is versatile, pacey and very much capable in a race like this.
So folks, that’s about all I have for you. I hope you enjoyed reading this piece as much as I did producing it. I hope that not only the horses singled out come in to show some worth, but that you possibly learned a couple of bits of information you may have never heard before.
Thanks again as always,
“The Peaky Blogger”