Horse Racing tips: Brendan Duke’s best Saturday bets at the Curragh

A Classic weekend needs some big calls and top tipster Brendan Duke is on the case.

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Irish Guineas weekend. Always one that’s marked in the diary. Never ideal when top-class flat racing is run on testing ground. Hopefully, there are still winners to be found. I gave an erroneous ground forecast last week but can be confident that the ground at the Curragh will ride soft. Indeed, it would come as little surprise were heavy to feature in the ground description.


The Entertainer put up a most taking performance on debut in Navan. He would be my idea of the Marble Hill Stakes (2.15 pm) winner. There must be a fair chance he gets withdrawn though. The same comment applies to stablemate Cadamosto. This is probably the last chance to get a run into them before Royal Ascot mind you. That will be an interesting call for team Ballydoyle. Champers Elysees will probably prove a class apart in the Lanwades Stakes (3.55 pm). She’s a short price though.

Curragh 14.45 – Sonaiyla 

Sonaiyla looks the best bet on the card. She runs in the Greenlands Stakes. I bow to no one in my admiration for Glen Shiel. He’s teak tough, and has taken off since being reinvented as a sprinter. He will relish conditions, could still be improving, and may enjoy a tactical edge.

Sonailya simply shouldn’t be three times his price though. This mare improved out of all recognition for Paddy Twomey last season. She won a couple of handicaps before running Glen Shiel close over this course and distance. She’s three pounds better off with him on Saturday. She then placed in Group 1 company before an underwhelming effort in Ascot. Fillies in October though.

We can give her a pass. There’s no reason that she couldn’t improve again this season. The Twomey yard are in rare form. This mare has winning form both fresh, and on heavy ground. She should be clear second favourite. Paddy sweeten the deal further by offering an extra place. She looks a knocking bet.




Curragh 15.20 – Poetic Flare

I think Poetic Flare is a touch overpriced in the Irish 2000 Guineas. He’s better judged on his gutsy Guineas win in Newmarket than on his sixth in a very messy race at Longchamp last weekend.

He was keen early on in both races. Kevin Manning did a good job of getting him switched off on both occasions but the stop start nature of the French race meant he was trapped in a pocket for most of the home straight. He never got a chance to use his long stride.

A muddling gallop on Saturday would be of no use to either him or stablemate Mac Swiney. Expect the latter to ensure this is a well-run race. Three runs at the highest level in 21 days is no joke. Poetic Flare is supposed to be a good grubber though. He may be a horse who thrives on a heavy workload. He has winning form on easy ground. Admittedly, it will probably be more testing here but that will bring his stamina into play. I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t go close.

Curragh 16:25 – Holly Golightly

Holly Golightly is a well bred filly. She makes her handicap debut off a workable mark. She was still quite green when finishing third on her second start earlier this year. She seems to be learning quickly as she won next time out in Gowran Park. That form has yet to be really tested but the right horses followed her home.

That win came on soft ground so she should handle the conditions on Saturday. Her very talented dam improved markedly with age. I suspect her daughter will be in the same mould. There’s also the possibility that she will get an easy time in front. With Colin Keane in the plate for the first time, there’s plenty to like.


Curragh 17.30 – Liffey River 

A three-year-old handicap over seven furlongs closes the card. You would expect a race of this nature to be full of potentially well handicapped horses. That may be the case but I can’t find them. If in doubt, go with the class edge.

Liffey River looked a horse of some potential in three starts last season. His seasonal comeback in Gowran was disappointing in that context where he finished fourth. He was still a bit green in that race. He swerved at the start and was inclined to race on and off the bridle. That race is working out well mind you. The winner Erzindjan ran well in group company next time behind Maker of Kings, and a couple of the others have subsequently run well too. I suspect Liffey River will improve here though. If he does, with proven form on deep ground, he should run well.


2.45 pm: Sonaiyla
3.20 pm: Poetic Flare
4.25 pm: Holly Golightly
5.30 pm: Liffey River


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