Horse Racing Tips: Frank Hickey’s best bets at the Curragh on Saturday

Frank is all over the Irish Classic weekend and it's 2,000 Guineas day.

Frank Hickey Curragh Racecourse PP


* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas card at Curragh will be subject to a morning inspection. Parts of the track are currently waterlogged and the inspection will take place at 7.30am.

14:15 – The Entertainer

The Entertainer is a 110,000 guineas colt by Caravaggio, who has had 13 individual runners so far and six winners. He was quite weak on his debut at Navan over 5.5f but I was really taken with the manner of his win.

He travelled nicely and was brave to go through a narrow gap to put the race to bed. He shaped there like 6f will suit better and he looks a nice horse.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on Cadamosto. He was very impressive on his debut at Dundalk but was a non-runner at Naas at the weekend due to soft ground. The forecast is not ideal for him at the moment.


14:45 – Sonaiyla

Sonaiyla was progressive last season and goes well fresh. She won at listed level last season on her reappearance and was only beaten a neck by Glen Shiel here in the Group 3 Phoenix Sprint Stakes getting 3lbs. (She will be getting 5lbs off Glen Shiel here).

She was only beaten a length behind Glass Slippers in the Group 1 Flying Five Stakes here on Champions Weekend and Glass Slippers went on to be beaten a neck in the Abbaye and win the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint.

Sonaiyla finished the season with a disappointing run in the Champions Sprint at Ascot but her Curragh record is five starts, two wins (maiden & handicap off 102), a second (in a G3) and two thirds (handicap and G1).

The soft ground is no issue and Paddy Twomey is in fair form with two winners from his last six runners (25 per cent strike rate for the last five seasons in Ireland). He’s a top-class trainer.

15:20 – Mac Swiney and Van Gogh

Aidan O’Brien hasn’t won the Irish 2,000 Guineas since Churchill in 2017, but the ground is going to be a huge factor. If it is bordering on heavy, it won’t suit Lucky Vega, La Barrosa or Thunder Moon.

Wembley and Battleground have to put disappointing runs in the Newmarket Guineas behind them. So does Van Gogh but he still ran respectably in eighth, beaten seven lengths on ground that would have been far too lively for him.

He won the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint Cloud on heavy ground to end last season and the rain is a massive positive for him, he’s also a fair price.

Mac Swiney was obviously disappointing on his reappearance at Leopardstown in the Derrinstown Stud Stakes but you can definitely suggest he is ground dependent, looking at his form. On soft or worse, he was won the Group 2 Futurity Stakes here over 7f and he won the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Stakes at Doncaster, with disappointing efforts on good ground or faster. Were he to take his place, he looks worth a go.

I’d split my stakes between the two, as you have a decent chance of one of them winning if the weather forecast proves accurate.




15:55 – Epona Plays

Champers Elysees sets the standard on her Group 1 wins last season on Champions weekend but carries a 3lb penalty for that win. I would also have liked to have seen a little bit more in her reappearance run. Epona Plays is also a four-year-old but is rated 9lbs inferior to Champers Elysees (is only getting 3lbs here) but she looked an improved performer on her reappearance when winning the Group 3 Park Express Stakes over a mile on soft ground at Naas.

She ran well in the Group 3 Snow Fairy Stakes over nine furlongs at this track last August when beaten less than two lengths by Thundering Nights, with Albigna splitting them. She is particularly effective on testing ground and looks the value play to me, with ground concerns for Valeria Messalina also.

16:25 – Hazel

Hazel looked useful as a juvenile early last season but didn’t break her maiden until her fourth start, which came over7f at Dundalk, when she beat Joan Of Arc.

She was very poor in both 1,000 Guineas trials at Leopardstown, but both were in Group 3 company  and she now drops to handicap company off a rating of 86. She’s by No Nay Never, so there is some hope that she will handle the ground and she will wear first-time cheekpieces.

17:00 – Pretty Rebel

Pretty Rebel won here last October on soft ground over 7f off a mark of 63. She might have needed her reappearance here over a mile (and the trip might have stretched her) when fifth of 20.

She was nailed on the line next time at Gowran over 7f off a mark of 67. Last time here at the Curragh over7f, Pretty Rebel blew the start completely and looked like her chance was gone immediately. However, she travelled well and came home strongly to win.

Now they went hard up front there, so it played to her strengths, but it means that the 10lb rise may well be lenient were she to break from the gate on level terms now.

17:30 – Valhalla’s Dream

Valhalla’s Dream showed of promise on debut here in March over 7f on testing ground, when third behind Horoscope, beaten just over two lengths.

She wasn’t disgraced on her second start when fourth here over 6f on good ground in mid-April. She was tried in Listed company last time over 7f at this venue but was never in it, racing at the rear of the field (had been prominent in her first two starts) and finishing a well-beaten seventh of eight.

She starts off in handicaps now off a rating of 74 and I’d be shocked if she isn’t well treated.

Frank Hickey’s best bets at Curragh on Saturday:

14:15 – The Entertainer
14:45 – Sonaiyla
15:20 – Mac Swiney and Van Gogh
15:55 – Epona Plays
16:25 – Hazel
17:00 – Pretty Rebel
17:30 – Valhalla’s Dream

* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.



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