Roman Romp Shocker and Alpha Ace as O’Brien Upstaged
Condon The Conqueror As Romanised Wins
For a long way this looked like it may be yet another Aidan O’Brien procession in an Irish Classic as his U S Navy Flag cut out the running in the Irish 2000 Guineas, with Gustav Klimt looking the horse most likely to give him a race. Given the speed he shows though this one mile trip has always been something of a question mark for U S Navy Flag and the complexion of the race began to change dramatically inside the final furlong. As the frontrunner began to tread water, it was not Gustav Klimt who came out of the pack to run him down, but another, much more unexpected horse.
Ken Condon’s Romanised has often looked a horse of some potential but has regularly not been seen in the best light due to misfortune and/or trouble in running. Jockey Shane Foley was taking no such chances this time around.
Racing just off the pace and well away from any potential interference, Foley switched Romanised into the clear on the outside in the straight allowing the Holy Roman Emperor colt to build up a head of steam. And what a head of steam it was, as the 25/1 shot slowly but surely wore them all down for a 2¼l success, with U S Navy Flag holding on for second and Gustav Klimt in third.
Romanised is in to 12/1 with Betfair for the St James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, and he certainly wouldn’t look out of place there, particularly as he has now shown that he handles quick ground well.
Alpha Hands Harrington First Classic
Jessica Harrington has quite the trophy cabinet at her County Kildare base, with a selection of Gold Cup’s taking pride of place. The shelf reserved for Classic race success had begun to look rather bare though. It is bare no more.
Alpha Centauri was far from being the most fancied runner in the field headed into Sunday’s 1000 Guineas at the Curragh, with that man Aidan O’Brien once again dominating the market. English Guineas third Happily went off clear market leader under Ryan Moore, but in the end could only manage a staying on third.
It was O’Brien’s outsider Could It Be Love who looked most likely to hand success to the Ballydoyle maestro, going off like a scalded cat and still being well clear inside the final furlong. That lead began to dwindle though, and it soon became clear that the filly finishing best of all on the outside was Alpha Centauri.
Beaten just a neck in last seasons Albany Stakes over 6f, the main question against this one concerned whether she would stay the trip. Stay it she did though, pulling clear to score by 1¾l at the line. As in the colt’s classic, O’Brien filled second and third once again with Could It Be Love and Happily. The Coronation Stakes looks like being the next target for Alpha Centauri, a race for which she is a solid 6/1 chance with Bet365.
English Classics Up Next As Epsom Takes Centre Stage
The quality weekend action kicks off a day early this week with Epsom’s excellent Derby meeting beginning on Friday. It is the Oaks up first of course, with the race having a rather open look to it following the withdrawal of market leader Lah Ti Dar. With eight of the current 13 entries hailing from the yard of Aidan O’Brien, we may be in for a small field on the day. Godolphin’s, Wild Illusion currently leads the way in the betting at 4/1 with Ladbrokes.
Saturday’s Epsom Derby itself sees the next appearance of the big star of the season to date as O’Brien’s 2000 Guineas winner, Saxon Warrior, tackles leg two of the Triple Crown. The compilers fully expect him to come out on top, with Bet365 going 8/11 about the son of Deep Impact. With the likes of Roaring Lion, Young Rascal and Hazapour in opposition though, he may not have things all his own way.