Saturday 5 20 Curragh, Group 1, 1M4F, Good (As it stands)
After US Army Ranger dramatically withdrew late in the week, the market took some time to re-shuffle and IDAHO at one point was a clear favourite in a confused market. This probably had something to do with the Ballydoyle rumour machine, as well as Dermot Weld’s far from confident words around HARZAND all week. The cream has now supposedly risen to the top and HARZAND is now an odds-on favourite in all markets. In a slightly disappointing turnout we are left with nine runners, and each horse is previewed below.
- CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI (AP O’Brien) 50/1
The first of the O’Brien runners and by far his biggest race to date. It is hard to see how he can have much of a say and is yet to win outside of a maiden. Presumably O’Brien has entered him mainly for tactical reasons and the odds reflect this.
2. EBEDIYIN (D Weld) 66/1
EBEDIYIN currently holds the longest odds in the field and despite being the apparent good thing at Ascot, he only managed a disappointing fifth. His best form is found on soft ish ground and any rain would be welcomed with open arms. The trip is not in doubt and this may open up the idea that he is there to help HARZAND travel through the early stages.
3. HARZAND (D Weld) 10/11
The English Derby winner and if Weld had not appeared as downbeat this week, he would surely be a lot shorter in the market. Epsom has reportedly taken lots out of him and the foot issue that nearly prevented a run is still causing some issues. HARZAND is the highest rated horse and should be able to stamp his class on the field as long as all is well.
4. IDAHO (AP O’Brien) 9/4
The favourite for a number of hours is now slightly on the drift as confidence slowly grows around HARZAND. He has around 3L to make up from the English Derby and it is hard to see how these can be made up. US ARMY RANGER was always the main Ballydoyle hope until the bad scope came to light and IDAHO is only the main runner because of this.
5. MOONLIGHT MAGIC (J Bolger) 12/1
Godolphin’s sole hope and some people’s value option. He was effectively pulled up at Epsom and connections will be hoping this was simply a blip. It is hard to have too much confidence around and there is plenty still to prove. The trip is still in the unknown category and his only other run against HARZAND resulted in a 15L defeat.
6. PORT DOUGLAS (AP O’Brien) 16/1
Another O’Brien runner and presumably has more front running duties. He has placing shouts if things go his way, but the pace will obviously have a huge say in this. He could run well on his own right, but realistically is not in there to win the race.
7. RED VERDON (E Dunlop) 10/1
Ed Dunlop will be hoping his British raider will improve on his promising Epsom run where he was also hampered in the final straight. Connections quickly stumped up the £75,000 when it was required, which is a show of confidence in itself – with a third place finish the minimum required to repay this. Many of his rivals from Epsom are now out of the equation and there is no reason RED VERDON cannot run as well, if not better. For these reasons he is my selection outside of HARZAND.
8. SHOGUN (AP O’Brien) 40/1
The final Ballydoyle hope and the trip is still questionable after a poor showing at Epsom. Again SHOGUN is likely to have a tactical role and the prices reflect this with little confidence being put behind the 3YO.
9. STELLAR MASS (J Bolger) 33/1
The horse perhaps the least is known about and this is a huge step up on anything raced in previously. The quicker the ground the better, but it is perhaps a concern that he ran just over a week ago before such a demanding race. Little is known and the form is hard to read, therefore trusting STELLAR MASS with much faith is a tricky task.