ITV Racing Tips: Count on Lucky Vega to turn tables on Poetic Flare in Irish 2,000 Guineas
We are close to the start of the meteorological summer yet still having to deal with elements more typical of winter, which could result in the Irish 2,000 Guineas having to move for the second year running.
In 2020 the pandemic resulted in the Classic being pushed back to June. This time it is heavy rain that threatens the Curragh showpiece after an unexpected deluge left the ground heavy and part-waterlogged, leaving officials with no option but to announce a Saturday morning inspection.
If the track fails the inspection there is still plenty to get stuck into with ITV4 having made room for ten races on the schedule, nine if the Curragh meeting is abandoned.
There are three other Group races, a Listed race and some decent handicaps to take in, with Haydock providing the main action in Britain, itself enduring a battering from high winds and rain.
It will be a day for the sprinters in the north west where the Sandy Lane Stakes, for three-year-olds only, provides a stepping stone to Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup and the Temple Stakes is a warm-up for the King’s Stand Stakes.
Racing from Goodwood and York will complete the line-up – weather permitting!
It all unfolds from 13.15pm on ITV4 and we have previewed the three most significant races of the day in our ITV Racing Tips.
Heavy going has slightly changed the complexion of the race as horses proven in the conditions come in for support in the betting.
Chief among those are Van Gogh, a four-length winner of a French Group 1 on heavy, and Mac Swiney, an eight length winner of the Vertem Futurity in the same ground. As it was good to firm in the 2,000 Guineas in which Van Gogh was eighth, he can be given another chance, but Mac Swiney was emphatically outpaced by Bolshoi Ballet in the Derrinstown Derby Trial and a drop back to a mile might not suit.
The ground seems to have put punters off Lucky Vega and while he has yet to encounter such soft conditions it cannot be assumed he will not act on them. He was staying on strongest in the closing stages of the 2,000 Guineas to finish half a length down from Poetic Flare, a performance that suggested he is well capable of reversing finishing places on the Curragh with that run under his belt. The race is likely to be moved to Monday if it fails the Saturday inspection.
A soft surface is forecast at Haydock where ten three-year-olds are set to line up for the Sandy Lane Stakes, a race which has produced plenty of top class sprinters. Among former alumni are Slade Power, Quiet Reflection, Harry Angel, Sands Of Mali and Hello Youmzain, all of whom went on to claim Group 1 success at Ascot.
Dragon Symbol puts an unbeaten record on the line, earning a step up to Group 2 level when winning a conditions race at Hamilton by three and a quarter lengths. That was his turf debut on good to firm ground so this will be a very different test.
The underfoot conditions are unlikely to be a negative for Saint Lawrence who has been placed on heavy and won twice over 7f last year. He has run two solid races this year, finishing second at Newbury and Ascot. On both occasions he undermined his challenge but wandering around towards the finish and the application of first time cheekpieces could keep him focused.
There is no Battaash this time as the two-time winner of this prize heads straight to Royal Ascot, leaving others to take advantage of this Group 2 opportunity, given that none are likely to beat an on-song Battaash in the King’s Stand Stakes.
Group 1-placed Liberty Beach and Keep Busy, both trained by John Quinn, should be very much at home on the soft surface, but may have their work cut out to keep tabs on Que Amoro. The mare gave notice she could be trainer Michael Dods’s next sprinting star when she blitzed the field in the Nunthorpe Stakes last summer at a pace that only Battaash could live with, as she went down by a length to the champ.
She would surely prefer a much quicker surface but, if allowed to take her chance, she may have too much class for this opposition.
ITV Racing Schedule, Saturday, 21st May
13:40 Goodwood – 1m6f handicap
13:55 Haydock – 7f handicap
14:10 Goodwood – Festival Stakes
14:25 Haydock – 2m handicap
14:40 York – Bronte Cup
15:00 Haydock – Silver Bowl
15:20 Curragh – Irish 2,000 Guineas
15:35 Haydock – Sandy Lane Stakes
15:50 York – 5f handicap
16:10 Haydock – Temple Stakes
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing