Irish Oaks day at The Curragh this Saturday has a cracking supporting card. In the 7f Group 2 Minstrel Stakes (16:35), Hey Gaman can land the hat-trick.
Trained by the in-form James Tate, this four-year-old New Approach colt has won five of his 15 career starts and placed on as many other occasions.
He’s also ran some massive races in defeat at this level and higher before hitting top gear with consecutive victories this season.
Hey Gaman was a Listed winner as a juvenile and then beaten a neck in the 2017 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster during the St Leger Festival.
He went just as close to big race success last season when going down by the same margin in a Group 1 over in France.
Connections’ patience with Hey Gaman finally paid off on reappearance when he resumed winning ways in the King Richard III Stakes at Leicester.
He made all under Frankie Dettori, staying on well for a 2 1/4 lengths victory and looked value for more than the winning margin.
Hey Gaman then took the step back into Group 3 company in his stride and followed-up at Longchamp where he held a host of pursuers by a neck.
Those runs and the pick of his back form suggest he is well worth another crack at this level on the upgrade again. Dettori again takes the ride and that looks very significant.
As Hey Gaman has just 2lb to find with the top rated Romanised and is proven on a sounder surface – unlike the thriving Safe Voyage – he looks the best bet at 3/1 with Coral in the Minstrel Stakes this year.
Romanised respected in Minstrel Stakes
The main dangers to Hey Gaman come from fellow older horses as the three-year-olds all have plenty to find despite getting 7lb weight-for-age.
Romanised is a Classic winner who has put in some big efforts over further this season and tops official figures.
This Kevin Condon trained four-year-old son of Holy Roman Emperor enjoyed his finest hour at this venue when landing the Irish 2000 Guineas last year.
Although Romanised hasn’t won since, he’s shaped well on all three of his starts this term.
He conceded a Group 1 penalty on appearance in a Group 3 at Naas and was beaten just 1 3/4 lengths into fifth when short of room.
Romanised then was a staying on fourth in the Lockinge at Newbury and filled the same spot in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.
That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. Romanised was repeatedly denied a clear run in Berkshire at the business end of the race and went down by 1 3/4 lengths.
It’s a performance which can be upgraded in the circumstances. Although his record over 7f isn’t great, this is the easiest assignment he’s had for some time.
Provided he can avoid trouble in-running, Romanised can have a say in the finish at 9/4 with Ladbrokes now down in grade and trip here.
Thriving Safe Voyage may need cut, Mr Lupton interesting in Minstrel Stakes
Safe Voyage, meanwhile, is in the form of his life after notching a hat-trick at Haydock.
This late-blooming six-year-old is trained by John Quinn and made a successful raid across the Irish Sea when plundering a Premier Handicap at the Galway Festival last summer.
There is something about Haydock which just suits the Fast Company gelding. He’s won all four career starts at the Merseyside venue.
After scoring by 1 1/4 lengths in handicap company there on reappearance, Safe Voyage followed-up in a Listed affair.
The form of his Group 3 John Of Gaunt Stakes win that landed the hat-trick also looks strong.
This is because the runner-up, Suedois, has placed twice in group company since, and the third home, Snazzy Jazzy, dead-heated last time out.
All of this fine Haydock form demonstrated by Safe Voyage has come on ground no better than good-to-soft.
The forecast going at The Curragh is good-to-firm and significant rainfall is needed for that to change.
Considering the likely conditions, Safe Voyage may be one to oppose at 11/2 with Betfair despite taking his form to a new level this season.
Mr Lupton tries 7f in the Minstrel Stakes for the first time for trainer Richard Fahey, meanwhile.
The six-year-old Elnadim gelding won a Group 2 over 6f here on reappearance, but then trailed in last of six in the Group 3 Chipchase on the all-weather at Newcastle.
Whether his stamina stretches the extra furlong is an unknown quantity for Mr Lupton, but it’s interesting that connections are trying him over further.
The form of his Greenlands Stakes win here earlier in the campaign has been franked by the runner-up.
If he gets the trip, then Mr Lupton could be each-way value at 10/1 with BetVictor in this.
Lil Grey worth another go in Anglesey
Earlier on the card is the extended 6f Group 3 Anglesey Stakes for juveniles (16:00). Lil Grey is one of two course winners in the seven-runner line-up and appeals each-way.
Trained by Sheila Lavery who had the ill-fated Lady Kaya in her stable, the daughter of Australian sprinter Starspangledbanner was a gallant runner-up to Mohican Heights over 7f at Leopardstown on her debut.
Lil Grey then improved on that to break the maiden tag here when down in trip with a comfortable 2 3/4 lengths victory over Year Of The Tiger. The runner-up and third have both come out and won since.
She was far from disgraced last time out when pitched in at this level for the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot. Lil Grey kept on inside the final furlong and finished a 6 1/4 lengths sixth to Daahyeh.
Of the three in this race which ran at Royal Ascot, she performed the best. This is probably easier and the Lavery stable are operating at a 33 per cent strike rate in the last 14 days at the time of writing.
As the extra 63 yards of this should suit, Lil Grey looks worth an each-way bet at 13/2 with Ladbrokes now slightly back up in trip.
Unbeaten Pistoletto heads dangers
With Mount Fuji and Real Appeal both disappointing at Royal Ascot, and the latter looking exposed despite joining the Jim Bolger stable, Pistoletto is feared most.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien, this War Front colt is two from two and now steps up in trip.
Pistoletto has only raced over the minimum distance, justifying favouritism in comfortable fashion on debut at Tipperary when scoring by 5 1/2 lengths under a hands and heels ride.
He then followed-up at Naas when sent off at 1/5 and getting up in-between horses for a half-a-length victory.
Pistoletto was all out to win here, so connections are wise to bring him up in distance. This demands more, but O’Brien has won four of the last six renewals and the race 11 times in total.
At 5/6 with Paddy Power, Pistoletto is preferred to Ballydoyle stable companion Mount Fuji who flopped in the Norfolk Stakes last time out.
The other course winner is Roman Turbo for Mick Halford. This Holy Roman Emperor colt is the least exposed in the field with just that one career outing under his belt.
Roman Turbo’s maiden success on debut here can be upgraded as he was short of room two out and got impeded later on.
He still won by half-a-length, however, defying a 25/1 starting price in the process. As he’s open to the most progress, Roman Turbo could be anything.
He’s thus worth a market check on the day and can be backed beforehand at 12/1 with BetVictor for the Anglesey Stakes.