Unbeaten Jessica Harrington filly Albigna shaped like a step up in trip would suit her last time out, so is fancied to complete her hat-trick in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes for juveniles on Irish Champions Weekend day 2 at The Curragh this Sunday (15:00).
The daughter of Zoffany is a dual course winner over 6f now going further for the first time.
Albigna has been played late by jockey Shane Foley in both her career victories to date.
In the first of those, she made headway entering the final furlong and then ran on well in-between horses to touch off the re-opposing Tango by a head.
As Albigna stepped up on that maiden victory by taking the step up into Group 2 company in her stride last time out, when running on strongly and hitting the front close home, she is well worth a crack at this level.
She beat the re-opposing Precious Moments by half-a-length and confirmed form with Tango. There is no reason why Albigna should fear either rival in this.
With the main danger to next year’s ante post favourite for the 1000 Guineas coming from British raider Daahyeh here, Albigna looks a great bet at 15/8 with Betfred to continue her progress.
Daahyeh a danger, Soul Search each-way value
Roger Varian steps Daahyeh up in trip after getting turned over at Newmarket last time out.
This Bated Breath filly is out of an Oasis Dream mare and is another that should be well-suited by 7f on that pedigree .
The Group 3 Albany Stakes winner forged clear at Royal Ascot after beating Raffle Prize on debut at headquarters.
That one has since improved past Daahyeh, however, when landing a Group 2 and chasing home Earthlight in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville. That looks some of the strongest juvenile form around this season.
Earthlight, who only beat Raffle Prize by a neck, is a Godolphin owned colt that is among the leading 2000 Guineas contenders for next year’s first Classic of the season.
Daahyeh stayed on to take second behind Raffle Prize in the Group 2 at Newmarket, so is respected at 3/1 with Ladbrokes in the Moyglare Stud.
Ger Lyons trained maiden Soul Search has twice placed in group races, so on that basis looks a bit of each-way value at 10/1 with Unibet.
This other daughter of Zoffany went down by just a head to Tango on debut at Leopardstown before dropping back in trip.
Soul Search was then nearest at the finish and beaten a length in third behind Roman Turbo in the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes over an extended 6f here.
She then reversed form with Tango when a fine three-quarters of a length third to Alpine Star in the Group 2 Debutante.
As Soul Search so nearly got on terms with the winner and runner-up, it was a game effort. She also finished ahead of So Wonderful, Love and Tango – who all re-oppose here – over course and distance, so can hit the frame again.
Pinatubo all the rage on Irish Champions Weekend day 2 for National Stakes
In the other juvenile Group 1, the 7f National Stakes (15:35), powerful owners Godolphin unleash the unbeaten colt Pinatubo on Ireland for the first time.
Trained by Charlie Appleby, this British raider has done nothing but impress and improve this season.
The performances put in Pinatubo justify his place at the head of next year’s 2000 Guineas betting. In order to cement that status, however, he needs to win this on foreign soil.
After an easy debut victory on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, this son of Shamardal followed-up in the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom despite not really handing the undulations of the track.
Pinatubo was even more impressive when dispatching Lope Y Fernandez in the Listed 7f Chesham Stakes when stepped up in trip at Royal Ascot.
The way he drew effortlessly clear in the final furlong marked him out as something with huge potential.
That view was confirmed last time out in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. Pinatubo readily quickened away and ran on strongly for a facile five-length victory over positive.
This is the acid test for him on his first start abroad, but he is as good as anything else seen out in the British Isles among two-year-olds this season.
Connections could’ve kept Pinatubo at home and may still go to the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket with him.
A willingness to take the best of the Irish on in their own backyard shows how highly regarded this young horse is.
Despite cramped odds of 4/9 with 888Sport, Pinatubo is fully expected to win this with 10lb and upwards in hand on the field, according to official ratings.
Armory the pick of O’Brien quartet ahead of Arizona
Aidan O’Brien has won the National Stakes 11 times since 1996. He saddles four in search of a 12th success and Armory is the clear pick of those.
As a dual course and distance winner, this Galileo colt is bred in the purple and second best on official ratings behind Pinatubo.
Although coming into this race off the back of a hat-trick, Armory hasn’t won quite so stylishly as the red-hot jolly.
After coming a tenderly handled third on debut at Leopardstown, he showed the benefit of that experience when scoring under a hands and heels ride to win going away here.
Armory then took the Group 3 Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown in easy fashion by five lengths, before returning to this venue for the Futurity Stakes.
He quickened to lead in that Group 2 contest a furlong-and-a-half from home and kept on well to score by three-quarters of a length.
It’s the best Irish form on offer in relation to this. Armory is 7/2 with Betfair for the National Stakes, but looks books for second place on Irish Champions Weekend day 2 so a forecast wager is advised.
A damaging defeat for Coventry Stakes winner Arizona last time out means he’s a bigger price than fellow Ballydoyle runner Armory.
It’s time to step the No Nay Never colt up in trip, however, and he has solid place prospects at 10/1 with Boylesports.
After winning a Curragh maiden on his second start, connections went straight to Royal Ascot with Arizona.
He stayed on well to lead close home and beat Threat, who has won a Group 2 since, by half-a-length.
Heavy ground may have been against Arizona in the Morny last time out. He made no impression but kept on into a never dangerous fourth.
Tarnawa can continue Weld record in Blandford Stakes
In the 1m 2f Group 2 Blandford Stakes for fillies and mares earlier on the card (13:55), trainer Dermot Weld and owner the Aga Khan have Tarnawa looking to extend their fabulous recent run of winners in the race.
This daughter of Shamardal is looking to emulate Shamreen and Eziyra who won the previous three renewals between them.
Handler Weld has had eight successes in this since 1995. In Tarnawa, he has a three-time winner in five starts this season.
After finishing a fine third to subsequent dual Guineas heroine Hermosa on debut in a Gowran Park maiden last term, she went closer at Tipperary and also finished runner-up in a Listed contest at Navan.
Tarnawa broke her maiden tag when stepped up to this trip on reappearance at Leopardstown, keeping on well to score by a length.
Although then only a 1 3/4 lengths third in the Salsabil Stakes at Navan, she was short of room at the two furlong marker.
After taking the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes when prevailing over Who’s Steph by a neck, Tarnawa found the Epsom Oaks too hot to handle.
This is easier and so was the Give Thanks Stakes when down in grade and trip where she scored readily under a penalty.
As Tarnawa has nothing to fear from the re-opposing Credenza, and given her trainer’s superb race record, she is well worth a wager at 9/4 with Bethard to go in again.
Who’s Steph and Goddess also have claims on Irish Champions Weekend day 2
Last year’s runner-up Who’s Steph is a likeable filly who has run a string of solid races since losing by three-quarters of a length 12 months ago.
Trained by Lyons, the-four-year-old daughter of Zoffany has form figures of 21213 this season.
After chasing home Cimeara at Cork on reappearance, Who’s Steph bolted up in a Listed affair at Gowran Park to win easing down by eight lengths.
She then got headed close home when giving a whole stone to Tarnawa in the Blue Wind. Who’s Steph now meets the winner on 8lb better terms, but doesn’t have the same scope for improvement.
That didn’t stop Who’s Steph from resuming winning ways in the Munster Oaks when scoring under a hands and heels ride for a cosy length victory over Peach Tree.
There were signs last time out that giving lumps of weight away to younger fillies were starting to take their toll, however.
Who’s Steph dropped to third inside the final furlong at Gowran Park when carrying a penalty in another Listed contest behind Goddess.
She meets the winner on 7lb better terms. Who’s Steph has had hard races, but is still respected at 13/2 with Paddy Power now with the weights back in her favour.
The aforementioned Goddess looks the pick of Aidan O’Brien runners once again.
This three-year-old Camelot filly has won her last two over nine furlongs and was runner-up over course and distance to Red Tea in this grade before that.
Although worse off at the weights with Who’s Steph from Gowran Park, Goddess followed-up in the Group 3 Snow Fairy Stakes here when making nice progress in-between horses and staying on strongly close home.
She is 9/2 with Coral for the hat-trick on Irish Champions Weekend day 2.