Top trainer Richard Hannon has a tremendous record at the Curragh and his charge Canford Cliffs has the class to give him his third win in the Abu Dhabi Irish 2000 Guineas today.
Hannon’s previous winners were Don’t Forget Me in 1987 and Tirol in 1990 and he’s of the opinion that Canford Cliffs is reaching his peak, having worked well on the gallops after his most recent show when third in the Newmarket 2000 Guineas.
“He showed his mettle when winning the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot last June,” Hannon (pictured below) said, “but you want a horse to do it again in the Classic season. Things did not go according to plan at Newmarket.”
Xtension, who was just behind Canford at Newmarket, will be a threat as will Steinback who is one of six representing the Aidan O’Brien team.
Steinback has been in and out of the Classic like a yo-yo as O’Brien has never made it clear that the Curragh race was part of his target.
However, he’s back in again and judging by his fourth place in last October’s Dewhurst Stakes, would have to have a good chance, although he has not run since then.
O’Brien has dominated this Classic race for many years and it would be no surprise if Steinback or indeed, any of his others went in.
Jan Vermeer is another O’Brien horse to watch and he should take the Gallinule Stakes en route to either the Epsom or French Derby.
As for the 1000 Guineas, Jim Bolger may have the answer with Gile Na Greine who finished third in the Newmarket Classic and may fight out the finish with stablemate Atasari.
O’Brien can also strike with last year’s Derby winner Game and Glory in the Tattersalls Gold Cup after picking up an easy win last time out.
Competing with the big Flat meeting is Downpatrick’s National Hunt offering and here it may be best to rely on Tango Foxtrot trained by Crossgar’s Colin McBratney. This one was backed into 11-10 favourite at the last meeting but was outpointed by Accord Aris.
Once again top jockey Paul Townend is on board and this gives some indication as to just how highly Tango Foxtrot is regarded.
He has a good record in England and Scotland but has yet to do the job here but should do so now in the Bet at Toals Maiden Hurdle.
George Travis, handled by Enda Bolger, was a winner here last time, beating Dream House 11 lengths over the trip and must be fancied to go in again in the Toals Handicap Chase.
The main danger may come from Jamadiel who was third last time and should improve for that run for trainer Sean Slevin.
Local trainer Brian Hamilton will be hoping that Aghill, who was fourth at Perth, will take all the beating in the World Cup Handicap Hurdle while Noel Meade, who had a double last time here, should be supported with Kilteelagh’s Fancy.