THE Irish flat turf season got off to a start at The Curragh on Sunday with local trainer Dermot Weld beginning the campaign in fine style with victory with favourite Stuccodor in the Irish Lincolnshire.
But the performance I’m taking from the card is Beach Belle landing the opening two-year-old maiden under a fine ride from Chris Hayes to hold off Bwana by two lengths.
Winning handler Kevin Prendergast said he might come back to the same track for the Marble Hill Stakes in May and I think that is a realistic target after this start.
Prendergast revealed that connections had always thought that their charge was quite good since she did her first piece of work and there are two other reasons why I am optimistic for her future.
Firstly, she is only the second filly to win this maiden in the last dozen years which would indicate that she is well above average for her sex and also the right horses were the ones finishing behind her.
The runner-up had probably been showing up well at home as he was backed into 13-2 (from 8), while favourite Alertness, representing Jim Bolger who has won this race for the last three years, was fourth and is apparently very well thought of.
This opening meeting is well worth attending not only for the actual action but champion trainer Aidan O’Brien putting his Classic horses through their paces in a racecourse gallop. The Ballydoyle maestro was eulogising once again about the ability of Australia and I can’t wait to see him back.
This weekend Leopardstown hosts the first of the Classic trials and while I’m only guessing, punters would probably have done quite well over the years backing O’Brien’s main representative, even if the prices are sometimes slightly prohibitive.
So I’m going to opt for Indian Maharaja in the 2,000 Guineas Trial after O’Brien hinted that he would be his candidate.
This fellow falls into the category of ‘could be anything’ after remaining unbeaten in two starts last year, including a Listed race at Tipperary in August in which he proved three lengths too powerful for Ceisteach.
Although my selection is unproven on the likely soft ground at the weekend, winning both starts on a good or faster surface, I’m not too worried as being by Galileo he should handle it as long as it’s not very tacky ground.
This is a step up in class but so far he’s answered everything thrown at him and it will be no surprise to see him line up in the real thing at Newmarket in May or possibly the Irish Guineas at The Curragh later in the month.
I’m hoping that John Oxx unleashes My Titania in the 1,000 Guineas Trial as I was really impressed with her last win in the C.L. Weld Park Stakes at The Curragh in September.
That victory came over seven furlongs, the same trip as Sunday’s event, but I think she’ll be seen at even greater advantage over a mile and later in the season over 10f and possibly even 12f so she could also be an Oaks filly.
Arsene Wenger was described as a ‘specialist in failure’ by mocking Chelsea fans during Arsenal’s 6-0 mauling at the hands of their London rivals on Saturday.
That’s their opinion but I think Arsenal are bounce back specialists and can muster a draw at home to Manchester City on Saturday.
The Gunners have suffered a couple of heavy reversals already this season – they went down 6-3 to City in December, but responded with a 0-0 draw with Chelsea, and then later were trounced 5-1 by Liverpool before drawing with Manchester United and beating Liverpool the following weekend.
Saturday, 5.30pm - Arsenal to draw with Manchester City. Sunday, 3.10pm, Leopardstown - Indian Maharaja. Sunday, 3.45pm, Leopardstown - My Titania