There’s another weekend of Irish Flat horse racing at The Curragh and, in the feature Group 3 Renaissance Stakes sprint over 6f on Saturday (14:00), Speak In Colours can cash-in on an ease in grade.
Trained by Joseph O’Brien, this four-year-old grey Excelebration colt is two from three over course and distance. Proven Curragh form can be key to races like this.
Speak In Colours landed the Phoenix Sprint here last season in this grade when keeping on well and asserting close home to beat the re-opposing Gordon Lord Byron by a cosy length.
Group 1 company was a little to hot for him at the tail end of the campaign, but he was far from disgraced when beaten just three-quarters of a length in the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes here on reappearance.
It may have been that Speak In Colours needed the run. He was then a fine fourth to Royal Ascot sprint double hero Blue Point in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee, finishing just 3 1/2 lengths behind the now retired Godolphin owned star.
Those performances left the impression there will still races to be won with Speak In Colours.
That view was confirmed when he dropped markedly down in grade for a Listed affair over course and distance during the Irish Derby Festival.
Top rated in Renaissance Stakes
As Speak In Colours defied top-weight of 9st 12lb to just hold Woody Creek by a head, to whom he was giving a whopping 17lb, it was a massive effort.
Connections have tried him over 7f in two subsequent starts and he was a fine fourth in Group 2 company on both occasions.
Speak In Colours was denied a clear run entering the final furlong during the Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, but went down by just over two lengths.
He then reversed form with the winner, Sir Dancealot, when four lengths behind Shine So Bright at York.
These were strong efforts, especially when you consider the runner-up on the Knavesmire, Laurens, has won multiple Group 1s over further.
With the drop back in trip holding no fears for Speak In Colours, and his official rating of 111 giving him 3lbs and upwards in hand over the Renaissance Stakes field, this looks like a nice opportunity for him to resume winning ways.
Taking all that into account, odds of 6/4 with Ladbrokes make him the standout bet at The Curragh in a race where the opposition all have questions to answer.
Speak In Colours should round off another fine season with victory here.
British raider Perfection respected
Powerful owners Cheveley Park Stud sent British raider Unfortunately over to land the spoils 12 months ago.
They’re represented in this Renaissance Stakes renewal by David O’Meara trained filly Perfection.
The four-year-old daughter of Dutch Art is a three-time runner-up at Group 3 level this season.
In the first of those at Lingfield on reappearance, Perfection got headed 50 yards from home by Pretty Baby but went down fighting by a narrow margin.
Although she then failed to fire next time up at Haydock, she shaped better than the bare result suggests when seventh to Cape Byron in the ultra-competitive Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Perfection was twice denied a clear run, so to finish just over three lengths behind the winner was a fine effort in the circumstances.
She then bumped into Surrounding in the Brownstown at Fairyhouse and 2018 Guineas heroine Billesdon Brook at Glorious Goodwood.
In the latter race, the Oak Tree Stakes, Perfection was particularly unlucky as she got chinned in the final strides to lose by a neck.
She has since won a Listed contest at Pontefract and ran well under a penalty in the same grade when fourth at York.
This demands more but, in receipt of weight all-round, Perfection is respected at 9/2 with Coral and well worth another crack at this level.
She still has 6lb to find on Speak In Colours, however, and it’s for that reason we side with the O’Brien runner in the Renaissance Stakes.
Progressive Kastasa worth a wager in Loughbrown
The other Group 3 on the card is the 2m Loughbrown Stakes (16:20).
In what looks like a trappy renewal, trainer Dermot Weld and the Aga Khan combine with Kastasa who has progressed at a rate of knots in handicap company this season.
This three-year-old Rock Of Gibraltar filly comes into the race off the back of a hat-trick.
Kastasa has won off 79, 84 and 92 to be rated 98 by the assessor. Kastasa now steps up in trip to try this stamina test for the first time.
Her most recent success over 1m 5f in the Petingo Premier Handicap at Leopardstown during Irish Champions Weekend saw her hit the front 75 yards from home and hold Buildmeupbuttercup by a neck.
The runner-up is a very useful dual purpose Willie Mullins trained mare rated 128 over hurdles. Buildmeupbuttercup was also second in the Ascot Stakes during the royal meeting earlier in the season.
As a three-year-old, Kastasa gets 10lb weight-for-age in this besides a sex allowance.
Taking that into account, she comes out level with the top-rated Capri on adjusted ratings.
While this is much easier than many of the Aidan O’Brien trained 2017 St Leger hero’s recent assignments, he looks vulnerable to a thriving improver like Kastasa.
Blinkers go on Capri for the first time, but the top-weight must be wary of her.
Ballydoyle also have Cypress Creek, who won the Loughbrown Stakes last year when it was run at Naas.
He is a difficult horse to assess, because he’s had pacemaking duties for much of this season.
With Weld’s yard in decent form on a 24 per cent strike rate in the last fortnight at the time of writing, Kastasa looks worth siding with at 15/8 with Boylesports over the O’Brien trained duo.