Horse Racing tips: Our five to thrive at the Curragh on Friday night

PPTV's James Shortt has studied the card so you don't have to.

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*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

17:00 – Spirit Genie

The Irish Derby Festival for 2022 gets underway on Friday evening with big field going to post for a 6-furlong juvenile maiden. SPIRIT GENIE has the benefit of experience having finished a good second on debut at Fairyhouse last month and gets the vote for Jessica Harrington and Shane Foley. The son of Invincible Spirit wasn’t beaten far behind Pearling Path with John O’Donoghue’s winner subsequently running a fine second in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot last Saturday.

Dontspoilasale was further back in fourth place at Fairyhouse for Natalia Lupini and should also improve for the run. Ryan Moore rides Victoria Road who drops back in trip for Aidan O’Brien and perhaps wants some cut in the ground having been taken out of a race here at HQ earlier this month. Elsewhere, Eastern Legend can improve for Jim Bolger, while St Kitts, Mile End, Slan Abhaile and Wave Machine are several newcomers who look capable of scoring on debut for big yards.

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17:35 – Never Ending Story

NEVER ENDING STORY went into plenty of notebooks following her debut third to Zarinsk here at HQ last month and should benefit from the step-up in trip to land in this 7-furlong maiden. The manner of that performance and her pedigree both suggest she’ll improve for the extra-furlong with high-class entries in the book for later this season. Aspen Grove was further down the field and will be hoping to reverse the form with Jamie Spencer once again in the saddle for Fozzy Stack.

Sandy Creek looks interesting on debut for Joseph O’Brien and Shane Crosse with the daughter of Frankel a half-sister to Stone Age and bred by Peter Brandt. Elsewhere, Dower House has a wonderful pedigree, being related to Churchill, Clemmie and Blenheim Palace and is another interesting newcomer. Danvers Gold, Gypsy Woman, Tiymara and Unchained Melody are others of note with any market support being more than informative regarding their ability on debut.

18:43 – Gear Up

Wordsworth returns quickly having disappointed when down the field in the Queen Alexandra Stakes last Saturday and is hoping to give Aidan O’Brien is eighth career victory in the Curragh Cup. The drop back in trip is clearly a positive, but you’ve got to wonder if this race is coming just too quickly for a horse that’s only won twice and is running on worse terms to some rivals. I’m happy to take him on with GEAR UP who has finally come good and can produce more for Joseph O’Brien.

The son of Teofilo has four career victories from 11-starts and recorded some decent three-year-old form last season behind Hurricane Lane, Adayar, Alenquer and Yibr. The Piltown team understand this horse a lot more now having moved from Mark Johnson’s care, and he can build on his recent Gowran Park victory to challenge back in this company. He’s tactically versatile with the step back-up in trip likely to bring out more with further progression on the cards in my opinion.

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19:18 – Nectarine

It’s been a quiet enough season for Jim Bolger but his record in the Appreciate Derby stands out and NECTARINE gets the each-way vote under Luke McAteer. This trainer and jockey combination teamed-up to win this race last year with Beyond Happy with the Coolcullen team also winning this race in 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2019. There’s no doubt in my mind that Bolger will have been eying this race up for some time and this filly has a solid chance following consistent runs this season.

The daughter of Parish Hall has dropped down to a rating of 78 and McAteer knows her well having guided her to victory in a Leopardstown Nursery at the backend of last season. Some of her earlier juvenile form was behind Homeless Songs and Cairde Go Deo and the better ground can help her see out the trip and go close to victory. Elsewhere, Arctic Blaze looks a player for John McConnell with Impero and Common Practice just two others on the shortlist for Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien.

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19:53 – Corky

CORKY was unlucky not to have won the Ulster Oaks last weekend and can return quickly to gain compensation in this 1-mile 1-furlong handicap for Joseph O’Brien. Mikey Sheehy retains the ride having just been denied late-on by Atavique and despite a 3Ib rise to 77, the best is yet to come from this daughter of Fastnet Rock on only her fifth career start. I’d expect her to race forward again with the drop back in trip looking ideal to help her chances of victory following last Sunday’s defeat.

Howyoulikethat also brings form with Atavique to the table having finished behind Tom Gibney’s horse at Fairyhouse last month. Hillary McLoughlin’s runner is another serious player here with the much in-form Billy Lee in the saddle. Elsewhere, Morning Approach has been doing well for Willie McCreery having won at Leopardstown, while Dunum is another on the rise following back-to-back wins at Gowran Park for Natalia Lupini.

Curragh betting tips:

17:00 – Spirit Genie
17:35 – Never Ending Story
18:43 – Gear Up
19:18 – Nectarine
19:53 – Corky

*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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