Curragh Cup preview: Latrobe looks worth a wagerPublished on: June 27, 2019Author: Jamie Clark
Latrobe returns to the scene of his greatest triumph a year on from Irish Derby glory, so looks worth a wager at 11/4 with Coral to make a step back up in trip and win the Curragh Cup over 1m 6f on Friday (15:45).
Trainer Joseph O’Brien and owner Lloyd Williams teamed up to land this Group 2 stayers’ contest in 2017 with Rekindling.
In Latrobe, they have a four-year-old son of Camelot who has arguably been campaigned over too sharp a distance.
His rapid progress from impressive Curragh maiden victor to Classic winner was a huge story of last season.
Latrobe found plenty for pressure at this meeting 12 months ago when scoring with more authority than a half-length winning margin suggests.
As he stayed when others including Saxon Warrior didn’t, the decision to drop back in trip for the Group 1 Juddmonte International was strange.
Latrobe found the pace too hot at York’s Ebor Festival and weakened when trailing in a 10 1/2 lengths seventh.
He then tried course and distance for the first time in the Irish St Leger and was far from disgraced when chasing home Flag Of Honour.
Regular jockey Donnacha O’Brien eased him close home as Latrobe had no chance with the winner.
Connections went globetrotting next. Latrobe was held a head in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes over 1m 2f at Flemington, before finishing down the field in the Hong Kong Vase.
After two efforts in-behind Magical earlier in the season, he was fourth in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot when twice forced to switch in search of racing room.
As Latrobe was beaten 2 3/4 lengths, this was a fine effort given how the race panned out. He looks well worth another crack over this distance.
Three-year-olds worth taking on in Curragh Cup
Latrobe is one of a few sorts quickly turned out in a trappy renewal of the Curragh Cup.
While race terms favour three-year-olds, Western Australia was hugely disappointing in the similar grade Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot last week.
Although trainer Aidan O’Brien has a fine record in both that event and this, his St Leger hopefuls were among the first horses beaten in Berkshire.
Returning to a sounder surface may suit Western Australia better and, although eased, it looked like a real slog last time out.
Not even that and the 15lb weight-for-age from older colts makes him look an attractive betting proposition.
Soft ground simply may not be what Western Australia wanted, yet the form of his Listed 1m 5f Yeats Stakes victory when previously in action looks weak
Stable companion Heaven On Earth gets weight all-round, but the three-year-old filly has to make a huge step up on maidens against her own sex in this.
Dermot Weld has won the Curragh Cup five times before, but not for a decade and his Aga Khan owned colt Masaff has over four lengths to find on Western Australia from the Yeats Stakes.
He is a fresh horse and lightly-raced, but this demands more. The three-year-olds don’t look a great bunch this time around, so despite that weight-for-age advantage, we advise taking them on.
Southern France respected on record at trip
The third Aidan O’Brien horse engaged this year, Southern France, is turned out just six days after running in the Hardwicke Stakes.
While that isn’t ideal, the four-year-old is a very consistent over this distance. Southern France has form figures of 24332 at 1m 6f and run some huge races in defeat.
After winning last year’s Yeats Stakes, he chased home Kew Gardens in the 2018 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot.
This son of Galileo was then fourth in the Irish St Leger Trial over course and distance, before finishing a staying on 6 3/4 lengths third at Doncaster.
When placing in the English St Leger, Southern France finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Gold Cup runner-up Dee Ex Bee.
As he came out and chased home triple Royal Ascot winner Stradivarius – losing by just three-quarters of a length in the Yorkshire Cup – Southern France is respected as a stayer.
His length third to Master Of Reality, who was third in the Gold Cup behind Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee, in the Vintage Crop at Navan on reappearance thus reads well.
Southern France was denied a clear run and had all momentum checked over a furlong out in the Hardwicke Stakes when down in trip at Royal Ascot.
He can be forgiven that sixth place finish, and the extra quarter-mile of this is sure to suit.
Taking all that into account, odds of 9/4 with BetVictor are also worth considering on Southern France.
The only concern is the sharp turnaround time with the same slight worry over Latrobe too.
Raa Atoll can go well for sponsor Comer
The Curragh Cup is sponsored by millionaire owner-trainer Luke Comer’s Comer Group, and he attempts to win his own money with globetrotter Raa Atoll.
This four-year-old used to be in the care of John Gosden but made a winning debut for his new handler in a Group 2 over in Germany at the Hoppegarten when holding Thomas Hobson by 1 1/2 lengths.
Comer sought the Belmont Gold Cup across the Atlantic off the back of that effort, but Raa Atoll was squeezed out and faded to finish a six-length sixth in New York.
He now drops back in trip on Irish debut having skipped Royal Ascot.
Raa Atoll was just a length behind Rostropovich when fourth to Godolphin’s Old Persian in the King Edward VII Stakes at that prestigious meeting last year.
Using that O’Brien inmate and Irish Derby runner-up as a form marker, he doesn’t have a great deal to find with Latrobe.
It makes Raa Atoll a bit of each-way value at 18/1 with Betfair in the Curragh Cup and connections clearly mean business with Frankie Dettori taking the ride.
Of the remainder, Mustajeer should also go well for trainer Ger Lyons based on his neck second when giving 1lb to Master Of Reality in the Vintage Crop.
He now meets Southern France off worse terms, but has run well on both career starts over the trip.
In the first of those, Mustajeer was beaten just over five lengths when fourth to Muntahaa in the ultra-competitive and valuable Ebor Handicap at York last August.
The six-year-old gelding is the joint oldest in the line-up, but much less exposed over this distance than Jim Bolger’s Twilight Payment who was third in this 12 months ago. Mustajeer is 12/1 with Paddy Power here.