1 ARMORY (AIDAN O’BRIEN)
The first of six-runners for Aidan O’Brien and surprisingly ARMORY is rated one-pound lower than stable-mates, Monarch Of Egypt and Royal Lytham. The son of Galileo broke his maiden at the Curragh last June before victories in the Tyros Stakes and Futurity Stakes later in the summer. He found Pinatubo too hot in the National Stakes and finished behind Victor Ludorum and Alson last October in Paris. He is a serious contender to Siskin, with no issues over the one-mile trip or any ground conditions.
2 FISCAL RULES (JIM BOLGER)
Jim Bolger has made the decision to run FISCAL RULES despite only having one start on the racetrack last season. The son of Make Believe finished second, beaten a head behind Aidan O’Brien’s Wichita at the Curragh last August. That form was boosted with Wichita finishing second in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last weekend, but the mount of Kevin Manning would need to improve dramatically to land this classic.
3 FORT MYERS (AIDAN O’BRIEN)
FORT MYERS produced mixed form as a juvenile last season with a maiden success on debut at Dundalk and victory in the listed Star Appeal Stakes at the same venue last October. The son of War Front finished behind Siskin and Lope Y Fernandeez last season but was only beaten under three-lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He looks likely to be among the pacesetters and could cause a surprise to secure a place if finding plenty at the business end.
4 FREE SOLO (JESSICA HARRINGTON)
Jessica Harrington has started of the week in excellent form with several winners and runs FREE SOLO for the Niarchos Family. The son of Showcasing found Aidan O’Brien’s Year Of The Tiger too good on debut at Naas when finishing third, before claiming maiden success at Leopardstown last July. Cormorant, who finished fourth in that maiden has boosted the form with victory in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial on Tuesday, but realistically the Harrington team have a better chance of winning the Irish 1000 Guineas on Saturday.
5 LOPE Y FERNANDEZ (AIDAN O’BRIEN)
Lightly raced by Aidan O’Brien last season with five career starts as a juvenile with maiden success on debut at the Curragh in early June. He finished behind Pinatubo twice, firstly in the Chesham at Royal Ascot and secondly in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last summer. The son of Lope De Vega bounced back to form by winning the Round Tower Stakes and ended the season sixth of eight behind Earthlight in the Middle Park at Newmarket. LOPE Y FERNANDEZ runs over the one-mile trip for the first time and perhaps looks a spiriting type later in the season for team Ballydoyle.
6 MONARCH OF EGYPT (AIDAN O’BRIEN)
Yet another Ballydoyle challenger who cost $750,000 at the Keeneland yearling sales in 2018 and landed his maiden in good fashion on debut at Naas last April. MONARCH OF EGYPT finished behind Siskin twice before disappointing runs at Newmarket last September and October. The son of American Pharaoh is another who has not raced over the one-mile trip yet and cannot be fully ruled out if improving at home for the in-form Aidan O’Brien.
7 REBEL TALE (ANDREW SLATTERY)
It is fantastic to see Andrew Slattery and Pat Garvey take a chance at Guineas glory with REBEL TALE with young Ben Coen in the saddle. His two best runs came later in his juvenile season when second to Armory in the Futurity Stakes and fourth in the Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown when fourth behind Mogul. He has plenty to find on ratings and will hopefully run a nice race for connections before securing some black type later in the season.
8 ROYAL LYTHAM (AIDAN O’BRIEN)
Aidan O’Brien has decided to use blinkers on ROYAL LYTHAM for the first time with the horse hoping to follow in the footsteps of his sire, Gleneagles by winning this classic. He has not raced beyond six-furlong yet, having won his maiden at Navan on debut before securing the July Stakes at Newmarket last year. He was only beaten a length behind Siskin in the Phoenix Stakes and looks an interesting contender who could challenge for glory.
9 SINAWANN (MICHAEL HALFORD)
SINAWANN is another horse who is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his sire, Kingman by winning the Irish 2000 Guineas. The Michael Halford trained runner will have no issues with the trip having won his maiden over course and distance last August. He finished ahead of Rebel Tale and this week’s Derrinstown winner Cormorant at Leopardstown last September and will hopefully give jockey Ronan Whelan a shot of reaching the places.
10 SISKIN (GER LYONS)
The star attraction who won four from four last season for trainer Ger Lyons, jockey Colin Keane and owner Prince Khalid Abdullah. He looked a serious horse from day one, when winning his maiden at Naas and continued to improve and improve throughout the summer. Ger Lyons used a stepping stone approach with victory in the listed Marble Hill, Group 2 glory in the Railway, before landing a Group 1 prize in the Phoenix Stakes.
The track will be no issue, but the race favourite hasn’t yet raced beyond six-furlongs – will that be an issue? His sire, First Defence won over an extended mile for Bobby Frankel with his Juddmonte dam, Bird Flown winning over seven-furlongs on soft ground. SISKIN is the horse they all must beat on two-year-old form, but his price is short in the betting and we already saw an unbeaten Guineas favourite turned over in the last week.
11 VATICAN CITY (AIDAN O’BRIEN)
Very much a talking horse from the Ballydoyle camp last season and an individual who will surely continue to appreciate a further increase in distance this season. He travelled to Newmarket on debut and finished fifth to Kinross (2000 Guineas 6th last Saturday) and the form of that race took another boost earlier this week. The third horse, Finest Sound ran out an impressive winner for the Crisford team at Haydock on Monday. VATICAN CITY claimed his maiden in easy fashion at Dundalk last October and looks a serious dark-horse before a possible pursuit at top middle-distance races later this season.
VERDICT: The form of Aidan O’Brien’s team along with his excellent record in this race has pushed me towards siding with ARMORY. He will have no problems with the trip or ground conditions and could have the stamina to outstay Siskin in any potential final-furlong battle. These two meet for the first time on the racetrack and should fight out the finish with Vatican City and Royal Lytham chasing them home.
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