Each-way Play Against Homecoming
Each-way Play Against Homecoming
Sporting Life

Richard Hannon

All eyes will be on Homecoming Queen at the Curragh on Sunday as she bids to complete a Classic double in the Etihad Airways Irish 1000 Guineas.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained filly comes into this race off an absolutely stunning display at Newmarket where she trounced a good field by nine lengths after making all the running. On that showing the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor must have a major chance of emulating Attraction and Finsceal Beo in completeing an English and Irish Guineas double.

A filly who was rated 72 at one stage last season Homecoming Queen has made stunning progress since getting off the mark in a Fairyhouse nursery last September and her latest display was a truly outstanding effort.

However, it is worth noting that many of her best efforts have come with an ease in ground and she will have to contend with much quicker conditions here.

She is most likely winner but there is value in opposing her and possibly La Collina could carry the day. The Kevin Prendergast-trained filly was beaten a long way by Homecoming Queen at Newmarket but didn’t run at all badly in fifth and having lost her place after halfway there she did come home well.

That was her first run of the season and she is entitled to have progressed well from that outing while the switch to quicker ground will certainly aid her cause. On the pick of her form last season La Collina must have a major chance. She defeated some talented colts to land the Phoenix Stakes here last August and it is worth recalling that she gave Maybe quite a fright in last year’s Silver Flash Stakes. If she can return to the pick of her two-year-old form she will run a big race.

The other one to concentrate on is Yellow Rosebud. A classy filly last season, she showed that she had trained on well when landing a Group 3 trial for this race at Leopardstown two weeks ago. Her trainer Dermot Weld followed a similar path to 1000 Guineas glory with Bethrah in 2010 and it is worth noting that the trainer is searching for his third win in seven years in this race.

Elsewhere the Tattersalls Gold Cup looks to present So You Think with a straight forward opportunity to notch up his first Group 1 triumph of the year. He won this race twelve months ago before going to add two more Group 1s to his haul and it will be a major surprise if he gets beaten by Famous Name, who has defeated already, or the smart filly Bible Belt.

In the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes it is hard to look past the chances of the Richard Hannon-trained Cirius. He has yet to try his hand beyond a mile but his pedigree gives plenty of encouragement that this ten furlong trip will be within his reach and his form is the best on offer here.

A winner of a good Group 3 last season, Cirius began his season with a fine second to Trumpet Major in the Craven Stakes and that level of form would appear to give him an edge over Athens who hasn’t run at all badly in a couple of group races this season, most recently when beaten just over two lengths in quite a decent event at Longchamp.

Elsewhere Jessica Harrington’s Backbench Blues is put forward in the mile and a half Paddy Power Handicap. This three-year-old faces no easy task against his elders and he has yet to try his hand beyond a mile but he has a big chance of staying the trip on pedigree on his form is very solid.

Backbench Blues, who comes here in search of his fourth straight win, began his season in good style at Naas last month. That day turned in a likeable effort to land quite a decent rated race over a mile and the form of that race looks to be working out. The runner-up from Naas, Croi An Or, won a handicap next time and the fifth-placed Soon went on to reach the frame at listed level as well as running respectably in a Group 3.

The progressive Sharalam and the top weight Ansaab are worthy contenders but Bakcbench Blues looks a horse on the up and he could well hold his own in better company in due course.

2.05 Cirius 1pt win
3.05 Backbench Blues 1pt’e/w
3.40 La Collina 1pt’e/w

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