A second day at racing at Newcastle with the Group 3 Hoppings Fillies' Stakes (7.10) the feature race of a seven-race card.
For those of you like me who like a competitive sprint handicap there’s the Gosforth Park Cup Handicap (6.35). Fourteen have been declared for this 5f handicap which looks the most interesting from a betting perspective.
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It’s the first of three days racing at the Curragh as the Irish Derby Festival gets underway. The highlight of a seven-race card, which includes a four big field handicaps, is the Group 2 Comer Group International Curragh Cup (6.43). Eight have been declared for a race which Aidan O’Brien has won six times since 2012. Aidan runs three Wordsworth, Sussex and Temple Of Artemis in this year’s race. Meanwhile son Joseph has won the race twice since 2017 and saddles two Master Of Reality & Gear Up.
Besides the action at Curragh and Newcastle. Doncaster, Yarmouth, Cartmel (jumps), Newmarket and Chester complete a very busy day and evening of racing.
You can ready my thoughts on the best of the evening’s action inside today’s piece.
7:10 – Jenningsbet Hoppings Fillies' Stakes (Group 3) – 1m 2f
My Astra a 12-length winner of an Ayr Listed race last time. Comes into the race a hot favourite to give William Haggas a second win in the race. The 4-year-old looked a potential Group 1 horse last time and although it’s her first start on the tapeta, her half-brother My Oberon won here and her sire Lope De Vega has plenty of winners on the surface.
Her main rivals look to be Potapova and Rogue Millennium. The former ran well when a 1 ¼ length 2nd of 10 in the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom last time. She seems to be getting better with racing and she’s won on the polytrack. Rogue Millennium one of two 3-year-old’s the other being Moon De Vega. Finished 7th in the Oaks last time. The Lingfield Oaks Trial winner looked she might get into the placings 2f out but just weakened out of it to finish 7th. This is more her level, and she remains capable of more improvement. Moon De Vega finished a further 3 ¾ lengths back in 8th in the Oaks but was rather disappointing. Hopes are pinned on her appreciating the new surface and the drop back in trip.
6:35 – Jenningsbet Gosforth Park Cup Handicap (Class 2) – 5f
Top-weight Venturous has won five times at Newcastle, including 4-7 5 placed over C&D. He was a 1 ¾ length 6th of 14 in last year’s race but was disappointing at York in May. Tom Marquand who is 2-3 keeps faith with the 9-year-old and he looks set for another big run.
Count D’Orsay was ¼ length behind Venturous in 7th 12 months ago. He was hampered at the start that day and is 5lb better of with that one today. He’s on a long losing run but has plenty of good efforts that make him look well treated and he deserves a change of look. Stablemate Copper Knight landed this in 2018 and was back to winning ways when beating seven rivals at Chester with Count D’Orsay back in third 13-days ago. Granted he’s gone up 6lb. However, he finished a ¾ length 2nd of 13 in the 2019 renewal off 2lb higher so isn’t out of it given he looked as good as ever last time.
Stone Of Destiny has dropped down to a tempting mark. He’s another on a losing run though, last success came in the Portland Handicap at Doncaster in September 2020. A strong finishing 1 ¾ length 3rd of 16 after an interrupted passage in last year’s Epsom Dash was only 6th of 20 in this year’s race. The 7-year-old hasn’t hit last year’s best form yet and the first-time blinkers are given a go now. A strongly run stiff 5f looks a bare minimum these days. However, if the headgear sharpens him up. Then he’s handicapped to go well and he’s run well on his three previous runs here.
The Irish Derby Festival gets going this evening and it looks a cracking three days of racing. It’s also the meeting that provides Friday’s selection.
The going at the Curragh is good, good to firm in places but there’s some rain forecast for the next few days so it shouldn’t get any quicker.
Trainer Check: Paddy Twomey
I don’t think there’s a better Irish trainer at placing their horses than Paddy Twomey and he also has good record with his runners at the Curragh. Since 2016 he’s had 15 winners from 50 runners 30% +21.12 27 placed 54%. Each way backers would also have profited to the tune of +32.82. He comes into this meeting with his runners in good form with 3 winners from 5 runners in the past 7-days. He doesn’t have any entries on Friday’s card, but he does have on Saturday & Sunday. Any runners he does have will warrant maximum respect.
Today’s selection runs at the Curragh this evening and I’m hoping that lightning will strike twice.
6:08 – The connections of Ice Cold In Alex will be hoping the forecast rain stays away. The 8-year-old needs a strong pace to chase as he got 12 months ago when winning this race off today’s mark. His record at the Curragh, on good/good to firm ground and when racing between 11 to 30-days since his last start is 3 wins from 8 runs +23.5 6 placed. If all the cards fall right, I’m expecting him to go very close.
1pt win – Ice Cold Alex – 12/1 @ Coral & Ladbrokes.
Good luck with your Friday bets.