Curragh preview: Buckhurst a bit of value for Royal Whip

Published on: August 15, 2019
Author: Jamie Clark
2019 Royal Whip Stakes preview says Curragh course and distance winner Buckhurst looks an each-way bet

The progressive Buckhurst looks a value bet at 7/1 with BetVictor for the Group 3 Royal Whip Stakes over 1m 2f at The Curragh on Friday evening (18:45).

Trained by Joseph O’Brien, this three-year-old son of Australia is one of three course and distance winners in the seven-runner line-up. That came last time out in the similar grade International Stakes in June.

Buckhurst reversed previous form with Blenheim Palace from a Leopardstown Derby Trial decisively.

After coming with effort to challenge before the final furlong, he soon led going best and asserted close home for a 1 1/2 lengths victory.

It was a taking display from the Lloyd Wiliams owned colt. Buckhurst had clearly built on his previous effort in a similar grade affair here when headed close home and beaten half-a-length by Constantinople.

As he’s won on soft before, any further rain won’t be a problem for him. Buckhurst does have a bit to find with Sir Dragonet on ratings, but this very much looks his trip.

At the odds on offer, Buckhurst is better value than his main market rival in an intriguing renewal of the Royal Whip Stakes.

This historic race can offer punter points to Irish Champions Weekend and the 199th running this year is no exception.

Sir Dragonet sets Royal Whip Stakes standard but plenty short enough

Aidan O’Brien has won the race nine times before and saddles impressive Chester Vase winner Sir Dragonet in it this year.

This Camelot colt was takes a major ease in grade after finishing a close-up fifth in the Epsom Derby last time out.

That gives Sir Dragonet leading form claims as, on adjusted ratings, he’s 5lb and upward clear of the field.

His racing career to date was all about getting 12 furlongs and Classic glory, however, and the drop back in trip is an unknown.

Sir Dragonet sets a clear standard here bolting up in the grade by eight lengths at the May Festival after also winning an extended 1m 4f Tipperary maiden easily on debut.

While the forecast ground is ideal, he’s plenty short enough at 4/7 with Betfred for the Royal Whip Stakes.

There’s every chance that going down in distance will be no problem whatsoever for Sir Dragonet. He probably has the class to be just as effective over 10 furlongs as at a mile-and-a-half.

Until we’ve seen evidence of it, however, Sir Dragonet isn’t a value betting proposition at those cramped odds.

For that reason alone, we oppose him here and punters are sure to learn plenty about him following a break.

Guaranteed also in the frame

Another course and distance winner with black type to his name is Guaranteed. Trained by Jim Bolger, the three-year-old Teofilo colt is rated the same as Buckhurst but not penalised like him and Sir Dragonet.

After winning over nine furlongs at the end of his juvenile campaign, there always looked like being more to come from Guaranteed.

He took a while to get going this season, but resumed winning ways on his fourth start of the campaign here

That came in the Listed Silver Stakes where Guaranteed just held useful dual-purpose performer Riven Light by a short-head.

Although again finding Group 1 company too hot when beaten 10 1/2 lengths into fifth by the enterprisingly ridden Sovereign in the Irish Derby, an ease in grade saw him go close last time out.

Guaranteed was held just three-quarters of a length by last year’s Irish Derby hero Latrobe over further in the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown last Thursday.

Provided this test doesn’t come too soon some eight days later, he is another that can make his presence felt at this level down trip.

The others, including the lightly-raced course and distance winner Leo De Fury will do well to keep Guaranteed out of the frame.

He is thus an each-way alternative to Sir Dragonet as he’s 3lb well-in on Buckhurst off these terms – in the Royal Whip Stakes. Guaranteed is 5/1 with Bethard here.

Lil Grey the Curragh Stakes selection

Elsewhere on this card, juvenile sprinters strut their stuff in the Listed 5f Curragh Stakes (17:45). Lil Grey can go one better now dropped back in trip for trainer Sheila Lavery.

The daughter of Starspangledbanner is a course winner over further and ran a fine recent in defeat here in Group 3 company last time out.

After scoring by almost three lengths to break her maiden tag, Lil Grey went to Royal Ascot.

She was far from disgraced there when a 6 1/4 lengths sixth to Daayeh in the Group 3 Albany Stakes.

Lil Grey then got headed close home and went down fighting by three-quarters of a length in the Anglesey Stakes by Roman Turbo.

Now eased to Listed level and down in distance, she gets a 5lb sex allowance from colts instead of 3lb.

It puts Lil Grey at a significant advantage here and, on adjusted ratings, she comes out top. This likeable grey filly is thus taken to resume winning ways at 7/4 with Ladbrokes.

Of the others, top rated colt Air Force Jet was a weakening seventh in the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last time out.

He is thus looking to bounce back now down in grade like Aidan O’Brien representative King Neptune.

The drop back in trip may be a plus for the latter after some solid efforts over further.

King Neptune needs to bounce back, more to come from Millisle

This War Front colt chased home subsequent Group 1 winner Siskin in a Listed 6f race here having filled the same spot previously over the minimum trip.

King Neptune was then a five-length sixth to A’Ali in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes and fifth to Royal Lytham in the July Stakes.

That is strong form and he’s 7/2 with William Hill to go several places better than that.

As he needs to bounce back from a below par eight-length 10th in the Richmond at Glorious Goodwood, King Neptune doesn’t appeal as much as Lil Grey.

The dark horse in the Curragh Stakes is Jessica Harrington trained filly Millisle who is unexposed and made a taking debut.

As a half-sister to Lil Grey, her 4 3/4 lengths maiden success at Bellewstown came under hands and heels.

There were then excuses for Millisle last time out at Down Royal where she was short of room on the inner and checked close home. In the circumstances, she put in a fine effort when beaten 1 1/4 lengths.

This obviously demands more than that minor event, but a few of the bigger names aren’t open to the same amount of progress.

Millisle is thus worth a market check at 12/1 with Betfair as some of the opposition look relatively exposed.

It’s Lil Grey who appeals most in this sprint contest, however, that warms punters up nicely for the Irish St Leger Trial and Royal Whip Stakes later on.

For The Trees can cut down rivals on handicap bow

In the 6f nursery handicap (17:10), For The Trees looks weighted to make a winning debut in this sphere after breaking her maiden tag last time out.

Also trained by Harrington, this daughter of Ivawood finished a tenderly handled fifth on her bow behind subsequent Listed winner Ickworth.

After filling the same spot at Cork following a break, For The Trees ran a huge race in defeat over this trip at Leopardstown. She was beaten half-a-length when giving 8lb to Brunelle and only got headed close home.

For The Trees got a win under belt when last in action at Sligo nine days ago making all and scoring by 1 3/4 lengths from Believe In Beauty. The handicapper has allotted her an opening mark of 83 on the back of that.

Given For The Trees was only seven lengths or so behind the now 97 rated Ickworth, that could seriously underestimate her.

As most of her rivals have run in the last fortnight as well, this handicap debutante has plenty going for her at 5/1 with Paddy Power under Shane Foley.