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Fev Rover tries again for Classic honours at the Curragh

Richard Fahey is keen to give Fev Rover a second tilt at Classic glory in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

The sole British-trained runner in a field of 14 fillies, the daughter of Gutaifan arguably sets the standard on this season’s form, having finished an excellent third in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket three weeks ago.

Fev Rover is set to encounter very different conditions on Sunday, however, with heavy rain in recent days ensuring the ground is testing at the home of Irish Flat racing.

Fahey said: “I believe they’ve had an awful lot of rain, and I’m a little bit worried it might be off, but she has to travel.

“There’s more forecast, but it’s one of those situations where we have to go and see what happens.”

While Fev Rover’s tremendous Newmarket effort came on a fast surface, she did win the Group Two Prix du Calvados at Deauville last season on ground officially described as ‘very soft’.

“I’ve been preaching all winter that I want to get her on better ground, and here we are running on heavy – but she has had experience of it, so she’ll handle it as well as most,” Fahey added.

“I was keen to get her to the Curragh, because I just thought the track would suit her.

“We’ve been pleased with her since Newmarket – she’s a pretty straightforward girl.”

Pretty Gorgeous winning the Fillies' Mile at Newmarket
Pretty Gorgeous winning the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Joseph O’Brien is confident of a bold showing from Pretty Gorgeous, who has not been seen since winning the Fillies’ Mile last autumn after an unsatisfactory scope ruled her out of the Guineas at Newmarket.

O’Brien told Betfair: “Pretty Gorgeous is obviously one of our most exciting prospects for the season, having won the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last season. She just wasn’t quite right prior to the 1000 Guineas, so we played it safe with her and didn’t run.

“Given how firm the ground was, missing it might have been a blessing in disguise. We know from last year that she handles soft ground well, and we’ve been very happy with her in the last couple of weeks.

“She looks in great order now and will hopefully produce a big effort. Her juvenile form entitles her to be right in the mix, so hopefully she runs a big one.”

O’Brien also runs a pair of outsiders in Sense Of Style and Thinking Of You, ensuring he matches his father Aidan’s three-pronged assault.

O’Brien senior’s chief hope appears to be Joan Of Arc, who impressed in the Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown a fortnight ago.

“She’s a sister to Gleneagles, and he didn’t like it soft, but she won her maiden when it was soft – so at least we know she goes on it,” said the trainer.

“Like with most of ours this weekend, she’d much prefer better ground, but we do at least know she’s gone on it before – even though it was only a maiden.

“She’s got a beautiful pedigree.”

Empress Josephine and Friendly complete the Ballydoyle trio, while Jessica Harrington saddles both No Speak Alexander and Zaffy’s Pride, who finished first and second in Leopardstown’s Athasi Stakes this month.

Of No Speak Alexander, Harrington said: “I’m not saying she will win, but she’ll be in the shake-up.”

Miss Amulet (right) finishing second in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket
Miss Amulet (right) finishing second in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Miss Amulet was declared a non-runner in last weekend’s French 1000 Guineas because of unsuitably soft ground, but trainer Ken Condon will let her line up this weekend.

The daughter of Sir Prancealot will be making her first competitive appearance since finishing third at the Breeders’ Cup in November – finishing on the heels of Newmarket Guineas heroine Mother Earth.

“It’s the last Classic she can run in, and she’ll take her chance,” said Condon.

“The two-year-old career she put together means she deserves her chance in a Guineas.

“There are genuine concerns about the ground – and as a consequence, the trip is going to be in more focus.

“The filly has trained nicely and is in good form. We’ve a good man riding her (Colin Keane), and she’s drawn around fancied horses, and we’re looking forward to seeing her back.”

Pretty Gorgeous returns in Irish 1,000 Guineas

Pretty Gorgeous and Fev Rover are among a 14-strong field for the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

The Joseph O’Brien-trained Pretty Gorgeous is set to make her first appearance since winning the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October, after an unsatisfactory scope led to her late withdrawal from a return trip for the 1000 Guineas three weeks ago.

O’Brien will also saddle Sense Of Style and Thinking Of You.

Richard Fahey’s Fev Rover finished a close-up third over the Rowley Mile at the start of this month, but can expect to encounter far more testing conditions in Ireland this weekend. She is the sole British-trained representative in the line-up.

Aidan O’Brien, who won the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket with Mother Earth, will run three in the Irish equivalent.

The Ballydoyle handler’s chief hope appears to be Joan Of Arc, who impressed in the Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown this month. She is joined by stablemates Empress Josephine and Friendly.

Ken Condon has declared Miss Amulet, who was taken out of last weekend’s French 1000 Guineas because of unsuitably soft ground.

Jessica Harrington runs No Speak Alexander and Zaffy’s Pride, with Belle Image (Sheila Lavery), Fantasy Lady (Paddy Twomey), Sweet Gardenia (John Joseph Murphy) and Sziget (David Bergin) completing the line-up.

Aidan O’Brien is responsible for three of the eight runners in the Tattersalls Gold Cup – but the brilliant filly Love is not one of them.

Serpentine winning last year's Derby at Epsom
Serpentine winning last year’s Derby at Epsom (Bill Selwyn/PA)

Last year’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks heroine will have to wait to make her seasonal reappearance – with her trainer instead relying on Broome, Serpentine and Tiger Moth.

Broome is unbeaten in three starts this season, while last year’s shock Derby winner Serpentine runs for the first time since finishing fourth in October’s Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Dermot Weld’s dual Irish St Leger scorer Search For A Song steps back in distance after finishing second in Listed company at Leopardstown last week – while Willie Mullins saddles True Self, who was last seen claiming a lucrative success in Saudi Arabia.

Noel Meade’s Helvic Dream, the Andrew Slattery-trained Sunchart and Cayenne Pepper from Harrington’s yard are the other hopefuls.

Donnacha O’Brien wary of testing conditions for Shale

Donnacha O’Brien is praying the ground does not become testing for Shale’s run in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

A Group One winner last season in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, Shale is out of two Classic winners in Galileo and Homecoming Queen.

Last season saw her come up against Pretty Gorgeous – trained by O’Brien’s brother Joseph – in four different races, with the score two wins each. The twice she was on the receiving end, though, the ground was slow.

“She’s run well on soft ground but was never at her best,” said O’Brien, as he assessed Shale’s prospects on Sunday.

“That’s why she got beaten by Joseph’s filly (Pretty Gorgeous) – the ground was easy, (but) when she won it was quick ground.

“I don’t think she’s at her best on soft ground. I hope it’s not heavy, but we’ll have to see what it is like come the day.

“Galileos are genuine and they stay well. Those two things combined usually mean that they are fairly effective on soft ground.

“She’s not the biggest of fillies but she’s filled out and she’s strong. Sometimes horses either handle it or they don’t, in terms of their action, so I’m not sure whether strength is going to make her any better on it.

“She has run well on easy ground before – so unless it’s heavy I think we’ll be happy to run.”

The official going at the Curragh is soft on the straight course and soft, yielding to soft in places on the round course.

Leading fancy Mehnah forced to miss Irish 1,000 Guineas

Mehnah has suffered a slight setback that has ruled her out of the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Sunday.

It means the Kevin Prendergast-trained filly will be denied the chance to emulate her half-brother Awtaad, who took the Irish 2,000 Guineas for the same connections in 2016.

However, Prendergast hopes Mehnah will be 100 per cent for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Mehnah (second left) in action at Leopardstown
Mehnah (second left) in action at Leopardstown (PA)

“She’s tweaked a muscle, so we can’t run her. She’s all right and hopefully we’ll have her for the Coronation at Ascot,” said the County Kildare handler.

“It’s not serious. It’s just enough to stop her from running. In three or four days she’ll be OK, but not all right to run.”

Mehnah has had just the two career starts. She made a winning debut at Dundalk in September and just failed by a head to catch Keeper Of Time in the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown last month. Both races were over seven furlongs.

Shale expected to step up in Irish Guineas

Donnacha O’Brien is convinced Shale will improve a great deal for her first start of the season when she runs in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas.

The filly is bred for great things, being by Derby winner Galileo out of a Guineas heroine in Homecoming Queen, and last year showed she had inherited plenty of ability.

She enjoyed a great rivalry with Pretty Gorgeous last season. The pair met four times, winning two each, and Shale gained a top-level victory herself in the Moyglare Stud Stakes – before disappointing in the Fillies’ Mile.

On her reappearance in the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown last month, she was only fifth of 15 – but her trainer expects her to take a big leap forward next weekend.

“She’s in good form and is going straight to the Curragh now,” said O’Brien.

“We’re very happy with her. She would have really needed her first run a lot – my older ones were really taking a run, and I was actually delighted with her.

“I’m expecting a big run from her at the Curragh.”

Saffron Beach to head for Irish 1,000 Guineas

Jane Chapple-Hyam has opted to go for the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas next with Saffron Beach.

The New Bay filly was a fine runner-up to Aidan O’Brien’s Mother Earth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, and has an entry in the Cazoo Oaks.

But Saffron Beach is set to stick to a mile when she is in action next at the Curragh on May 23.

Chapple-Hyam said: “We have decided to run Saffron Beach in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

“She has been left in the Oaks in case anything happened in Ireland or Government rules changed, because living in Covid times things like that can happen.

“The owners are all on the same page and are keen to send her to Ireland – where Adam (Kirby) will ride her.”

The Suffolk trainer hopes conditions will suit Saffron Beach ideally.

“Her pedigree suggests a mile and the Curragh is a harder mile than it would be here at Newmarket,” she added.

“A bit of juice in the ground she won’t mind – we saw how well she ran on ground like that last year. We are there to give it a go.

“Aidan (O’Brien) is likely to have (Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial winner) Joan Of Arc and a few other bouncers and bodyguards from Ballydoyle – but she is a big girl and she will hold her own.

“She is not petite. She is a solid beast.

“She has had no issues since Newmarket, and her training has been fine and we are now looking forward to Sunday week.”

Prendergast planning Curragh Classic mission for Mehnah

Mehnah will bid to give veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast a third win in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh next month.

The 88-year-old landed his first success in the fillies’ Classic with Pidget in 1972, while Arctique Royale was his second 40 years ago.

The County Kildare handler feels he has a genuine contender in Mehnah, who is a half-sister to his 2016 Irish 2,000 Guineas victor Awtaad.

The daughter of Frankel staked her claim for Classic honours when failing by only a head to catch Keeper Of Time in the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown earlier this month.

That was only her second start after she won a seven-furlong maiden at Dundalk in September.

“She runs next in the 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh,” said Prendergast.

“She missed the break at Leopardstown and things didn’t work out for her, and she got interference in running.

“That should put her spot on for the Guineas.

“I think she’s quite smart. She’s in very good shape, she’s come out of the race well so everything is all set.

“She’ll have no problem with the mile. I think a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half will be no problem to her.”