Curragh Group races on Sunday

We’re well used to seeing Aidan O’Brien’s horses winning Curragh Group races. His yard is in form and he has runners in all three Group 2 contests there in Sunday. But he may have to play second fiddle this time. Instead, jockey Colin Keane could be the man to follow.

Aidan O’Brien’s horses win plenty of Curragh Group races. However, he may have to play second fiddle in Sunday’s three Group 2 contests. Instead, jockey Colin Keane could be the man to follow.

O’Brien has won five of the last seven renewals of the 6f Airlie Stud Stakes at 3.10. He holds strong claims again this year with Mother Earth and More Beautiful. The latter, a half-sister to Guineas winner Saxon Warrior, was sent off evens favourite for the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot on the strength of her debut win at Naas. She could only finish midfield that day but it is too soon to write her off. Mother Earth also ran at Royal Ascot, coming third in the Albany. She then won a fillies’ Group 3 at Naas by four lengths, with two of Sunday’s rivals behind her.

But the O’Brien pair will need to be at their best to topple Ger Lyons’ unbeaten Frenetic, the mount of Colin Keane. She beat Mother Earth by 1¾ lengths on her debut at Navan. She then won a 5f Listed contest at the Curragh on June 27. The extra furlong should play to her strengths.

THE OTHER CURRAGH GROUP RACES

Seven go to post for the 5f Sapphire Stakes at 3.45 (live on ITV4) but on form it looks a match between the top two in the betting. Denis Hogan’s Make A Challenge is two from three this year, with Listed wins at Naas and the Curragh. The latter came last weekend, his fourth success at this track.

However, the vote goes to English raider A’ali, trained by Simon and Ed Crisford. He won a Sandown Group 3 under Frankie Dettori two weeks ago. With Frankie on duty at Newbury, Colin Keane takes the mount this time.  

Aidan O’Brien’s Southern Hills has to bounce back after finishing last in the July Cup eight days ago. Punita Arora had two of Sunday’s rivals behind her when winning a Listed race at Naas in June but has since twice been beaten in that grade. 

KEANE CAN LAND TREBLE IN KILBOY ESTATE STAKES

Eight line up for the 1m 1f Kilboy Estate Stakes, the third of the Curragh Group races at 4.15. Again, it’s live on ITV4.  

This looks between One Voice, who beat Snow in the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes at Leopardstown last month, and Ger Lyons’ filly Lemista. She’s won her last three starts, two this year, landing a Naas Group 3 on the one day of Flat action in March before lockdown. She then won a Gowran Park Listed race four weeks ago.  

Of the others, Cerro Bayo, Crotchet and Kiss For A Jewel may struggle in this grade. Aidan O’Brien saddles Killarney Listed winner Lovelier, while son Joseph runs Snapraeceps, runner-up to Snow in the Munster Oaks. Mick Halford’s horses are in form and his Ridenza can finish in the first three for each-way punters.

The choice is for Colin Keane to crown a great afternoon with victory on Lemista.

At least Aidan O’Brien shouldn’t leave empty handed. He may not win the Curragh Group races but Snowfall should take the 7f fillies’ maiden at 2.00.

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