Can Royal Scotsman Deliver in the Irish Guineas?

Royal Scotsman (second from right) Getty Images


There was a time around three decades ago when Paul Cole's name was synonymous with the turf's leading lights left, right and centre around Europe. Over 30 years on from his last win in any of the British, Irish or French Classics, the Whatcombe Estate frontiersman who now runs his stable along with son Oliver has found one again. Not since the heady days of Generous (Ire) and co has the Berkshire stable been as electrified as it is at present thanks to Royal Scotsman (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}) and it is with great expectations and some jitters that they await the reckoning of Jim and Fitri Hays' flag-bearer  in Saturday's G1 Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh.

What is beyond doubt is that Royal Scotsman is a class act, with his close second to Chaldean (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in the G1 Dewhurst S. possibly even better form than his third in the 2000 Guineas itself, with the Newmarket Classic's cutting edge blunted by nagging heavy rain. When the sun burned and the turf rode slick at the Goodwood Festival in July, he was able to take apart the six-furlong G2 Richmond S. with pace that will be lethal if he can carry it this far.

Strongly-supported by the hard hitters on Friday, Royal Scotsman will most likely head to post the favourite and Oliver Cole is abuzz with the cross-sea travelling having gone to plan. “He's in great form, he left for Ireland on Thursday night and arrived Friday morning and has eaten up, so we couldn't be happier with him,” he said. “To do what he did at Newmarket, to be keen and pull for four furlongs and then finish shows he's pretty good. He broke the track record in the Richmond at Goodwood and he was in the second-fastest ever Dewhurst–his sectionals were amazing after the first furlong. He is a very, very good horse, everything just needs to go right for him.”

A Classic Conundrum...
While it is too early to say, the 2000 Guineas looks far from vintage at this stage and this version follows the same narrative on paper at least. Newmarket's Classic was stacked even more than usual with fast colts, who bar Auguste Rodin (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) seemed the most exciting of those lining up but so many hopes were ultimately dashed as the ground deepened and stretched staying power all around. While the Irish 2000 is set to take place on far livelier terrain, those who helped light up the Classic three weeks ago are already firmly on the road to the Commonwealth Cup.

So what are we left with? TDN Rising Star Hi Royal (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) exceeded all expectations to be an errant second, one of a long line of rank outsiders to make the frame in the Guineas, but it is impossible to tell how he will back up here. Royal Scotsman may have been third after over-racing, but he far from convinced with how well he ultimately saw out the mile.

The O'Brien Factor…
Six of the last 10 winners of this hadn't been to Newmarket, which of course brings in the Aidan O'Brien contingent (is there ever a time when they could be safely counted out?) and in particular the Listed Tetrarch S.-winning TDN Rising Star Paddington (GB) (Siyouni {Fr}) with all his upside. While he will have his many supporters, it is perhaps Donnacha who has charge of the colt with all the boxes ticked. Step forward Proud And Regal (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who went the Mac Swiney route of Leopardstown's G3 Derby Trial only to fall short against Jessie Harrington's genuine Derby contender Sprewell (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}).

Proud And Regal won on debut here in June, went too fast early in the Futurity on his second visit and already needed further than seven furlongs when denied in the Vincent O'Brien National S. tackling the Kildare venue for the third time. His one try at a mile yielded a Criterium International, but the heavy ground there would have been against the chestnut son of Simply Perfect (GB) (Danehill) so his defeat of Ballydoyle's classy Espionage (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) could even be upgraded.

In The Fast Lane…
A Classic is a Classic, but few would forgive those who are placing Haydock's G2 Sandy Lane S. over the Curragh feature on Saturday, such is the pull of the 3-year-old sprinting generation this year. As mentioned above, the Guineas boasted the likes of Noble Style (GB) (Kingman {GB}), Sakheer (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}) and Little Big Bear (Ire) (No Nay Never) and while the former has since disappointed, the latter is very much alive and kicking in the category. This is a case of clean slate for the brilliant juvenile of 2022, who has everything in his favour and defeat here will not be enough to stop the worries that he is not the force he was. Physically, the beast who took apart the Phoenix assembly including the beleaguered fellow TDN Rising Star Bradsell (GB) (Tasleet {GB}) must be at least as good this year and with the calendar stacked against Ryan Moore, it is Frankie who gets to push the buttons for possibly the only time. Lucky man.

What Now For Bradsell?
We see it every year. A wide-margin, dynamic Spring success for a juvenile blessed with “early”, possibly a Royal Ascot sprint wrapped up while that precocity still dominates and then a slow slide into the wilderness. For Bradsell, the latter scenario has thankfully not played out with injury stopping him after his unlucky experience in the Phoenix and a highly respectable comeback effort in Ascot's G3 Pavilion S. last month. While the re-opposing winner Cold Case (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) had his measure that day, Victorious Racing's Coventry hero is on a sounder surface here and Archie Watson has him in a good place. “He travelled very well at Ascot and got a bit tired late, which was to be expected,” he said. “I hope he can take a good step forwards fitness-wise from there. It looks a very strong trial for the Commonwealth Cup. I'd say whatever wins will be the one to beat at Ascot, so at least we'll all know after the weekend.”

Back In Her Comfort Zone?
One of the big performances of the two Guineas at Newmarket was that of Matilda Picotte (Ire) (Sioux Nation) in the 1000 as she effectively “won” the race behind Mawj (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}) and Tahiyra (Ire) (Siyouni {Fr}) despite having appeared to have gone off too quickly. Having been third in the Lowther when possibly York's fast six furlongs proved too slick, she made all in Newmarket's Listed Bosra Sham Fillies' S. as the ground eased in the autumn so it is a question of whether it will all be happening too quickly again here. “Her Guineas run puts her in the picture and we should be bang there,” trainer Kieran Cotter said. “In an ideal situation we would have liked a bit of rain, but she handled quick ground when she ran at York in the Lowther and she is pretty versatile.”

Fields Of Stars…
Saturday's cluttered action across Britain and Ireland requires a whistle-stop preview and much analysis after with Royal Ascot particularly in mind. The Curragh's card sees the TDN Rising Stars Noche Magica (Ire) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) and Democracy (Ire) (No Nay Never) go the “Blackbeard route” to Berkshire, while the G1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp heroine The Platinum Queen (Ire) (Cotai Glory {GB}) makes her debut for Katsumi Yoshida and Roger Varian in Haydock's G2 Temple S. White Birch Farm's unbeaten Prince of Wales's S. and Eclipse entry Francesco Clemente (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) faces his first black-type test in Goodwood's Listed Festival S., while York's G3 Bronte Cup plays host to George Strawbridge's G2 Park Hill S.-winning 4-year-old Mimikyu (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}). Her sister Journey (GB) really got going at that age, so its still all to play for the quirky but talented representative of the Gosdens.

Tahiyra Heads Sunday Delights…
Dermot Weld would have been heartened by the inside draw handed to Tahiyra (Ire) (Siyouni {Fr}) in Sunday's G1 Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas at The Curragh as The Aga Khan's TDN Rising Star was the key member of the 10-strong cast confirmed on Friday. Also set to be represented by live contender Tarawa (Ire) (Shamardal), the Rosewell House handler has booked Billy Lee for that G3 Cornelscourt S. runner-up. Aidan O'Brien's trio is headed by Tahiyra's old rival Meditate (Ire) (No Nay Never), who is alongside the likely favourite in two and set for a Moyglare rematch on the faster ground she relishes so that scores can finally be settled. A thrilling G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup was confirmed, with Vadeni (Fr) (Churchill {Ire}), Bay Bridge (GB) (New Bay {GB}) and Luxembourg (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) good to go in the first big older horse encounter of the European season.

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