Brendan Duke: I’ve saved the best until last for a Great night at the Curragh

Great Grey has caught El Dukey's eye in the lucky last (20.35) on Friday evening.


Galway went well. A glorious Friday evening for racing. My guide, a local, was a bit disappointed in himself. Felt I didn’t get a fully immersive experience. I disagree. The very first bar we visited provided a before they were famous moment. Was introduced to Joe. My first impression was he needed a haircut. I’m middle aged. Not two days later he was all over my timeline. Turns out he’s a court-sider.

The Samson of punting. In the same bar I saw a girl falling asleep on the meaty shoulder of an older man. The man wasn’t fazed at all. I asked the proprietor about this incident as we left. ‘She had to go’ he said. Turns out the old guy is a regular. The girl was the niece of a regular. The owner seemed an affable fellow. Had an interest in racing too. I suspect the girl didn’t “have to go” in the Sopranos sense.

We then pitched up at the bottom of Quay Street. The plan was to visit a few pubs. The street was a heaving sea of humanity though. I posited my theory about waiting for the world to come to us. Even put my hat on. Didn’t really happen. My guide has known me for some time.

He realises most of my theories are bogus but indulges me. Not unlike regular readers of this blog.

This weekend brings us the Shergar Cup. One wag on Twitter suggested this would be a good weekend for a racing man to get married. Sage advice. I will concentrate on the Curragh on Friday.


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We begin with the weather. Brought to you in association with our friends at the legal firm of Pissingdown and Drenched. Approximately 25 millimetres of rain is due to fall between 6pm today and midnight tomorrow. It’s not going to fall just anywhere. Oh no, it will be falling on the general Dublin, Kildare area. This has come as something of a blow to those of us who fancy doing the Leopardstown, Curragh double.

The Bay City Rollers famously failed to plan for a rainy day back when they were selling millions of records. Hopefully a more mature version of the band will cope on Thursday night. It’s even possible the renowned Leopardstown micro-climate might save the day. The Curragh will bear the brunt of the deluge. It will almost certainly result in soft ground. There are likely to be plenty of non-runners on Friday’s card. This is frustrating for punters. Rule 4’s are our friend though. We will carry our double-edged sword into battle.


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The 6f Phoenix Stakes at 18.50 is the highlight. It looked like it was going to be a higher light at the entry stage. A’Ali, Arizona, and Siskin were all possible runners. A real shake up in the juvenile pecking order beckoned. Sadly only Siskin remains. The rain probably isn’t ideal for him. The credible opposition is Monarch Of Egypt, and Royal Lytham. Both have elements on the female side of their pedigrees to suggest they might be okay on the ground. Their sires would offer less encouragement though. Siskin should win. He laughed at Monarch Of Egypt last time. The ground could be a big equaliser. I’ll just watch it.

The other group race on the card is the 6f Phoenix Sprint 19.25. This looks a trappy race. Most of the runners would probably prefer better ground. Southern Horse has run well on heavy ground in Argentina. I’m not sure how their heavy ground translates to ours though. Gordon Lord Byron, on his 101st start, is ground versatile and should run well. The three-year-old fillies who are in form, have questions to answer on the ground.

Beckford is worth a bet.

He was effective on soft ground in his juvenile campaign for Gordon Elliot. He returned to that yard at the start of this season. His Naas comeback was underwhelming. His subsequent Curragh effort was much better. He would surely have finished closer but for being messed about in the last furlong. He should be ready to put in a peak effort here. He’ll be vying for favouritism but in an open race won’t be too short.


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The Fillies Race 18.15 over 7f might offer an angle too. The likely favourite, One Last Look, was disappointing in Leopardstown last time. She got quite agitated before that race. It’s possible temperament issues may mean she doesn’t fulfil the potential of an impressive debut win. Jim Bolger’s Alla Luna might be worth chancing on debut. Her pedigree suggests soft ground should be ideal. Her half brother is a smart sort, and she has an entry in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes. Friday’s race doesn’t look especially strong, and she should be very competitive in receipt of weight from more experienced sorts.

The best bet on the card comes in the last 20.35. Great Grey has only had nine runs. He progressed well through last season. His 2019 comeback wasn’t great. Perhaps he had a physical issue as he didn’t reappear for over two months. It’s also possible connections were waiting for easier ground. His best form has come on deep ground.

This isn’t surprising for a horse with Act One in his immediate family. It was worth the wait. He ran really well to finish second in Limerick. The form of that race is working out. He may ideally want a longer trip. This race has plenty of pace in it. The ground will place an emphasis on stamina too.

The horse should be improving and looks well handicapped.

His trainer hasn’t had many winners. That should help with the price.

Prices correct at time of publishing 

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What do you think?