Curragh preview: Soldier’s Call the Sapphire selection

Published on: July 20, 2019
Author: Jamie Clark
Curragh preview for July 21 includes our Sapphire Stakes selection Soldier's Call (left)

Soldier’s Call has race terms in his favour in the 5f Group 2 Sapphire Stakes (15:10) for the feature sprint at The Curragh on Sunday.

The three-year-old Showcasing colt progressed throughout his juvenile campaign winning the Listed 5f Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot on just his third start.

After then finishing third at Glorious Goodwood, Soldier’s Call resumed winning ways when making all in a Group 3 at Chantilly to score unchallenged by a cosy length.

He then followed-up on the upgrade to this level and again going from the front in the Group 2 Flying Childers during the St Leger Festival at Doncaster.

Soldier’s Call was quickly away and kept on strongly for a 2 1/4 lengths success over Well Done Fox. He then ran a huge race when pitched against his elders for the first time on Arc weekend at Longchamp.

Under customary front-running tactics, Soldier’s Call only got headed close home, but went down fighting by a neck when third to Mabs Cross in the Prix de l’Abbaye. It was a big effort on his first start in Group 1 company.

Big run in King’s Stand

A line can be put through the five-length sixth effort Soldier’s Call put in at the Breeders’ Cup on his final start of the season. The Juvenile Turf race at Churchill Downs was his eighth race of a busy campaign.

Soldier’s Call was far from disgraced on reappearance when beaten half-a-length under a penalty when third to the re-opposing Garrus.

As he now meets the winner on 5lb better terms, that should be more than enough to turn the tables.

Following that promising return to action, Soldier’s Call also ran a huge race when third in the Group 1 King’s Stand at Royal Ascot.

Subsequently retired winner Blue Point went on to complete the double with victory in the Diamond Jubilee.

As Soldier’s Call was just 2 3/4 lengths behind him, that and his Abbaye run set a clear standard in the context of this lower grade affair. On adjusted ratings, he is 5lb and upwards clear of the field here.

This looks a golden opportunity for Soldier’s Call to resume winning ways, then. Regular rider Danny Tudhope is again aboard and a leading contender for champion Flat jockey.

Taking all that into account, Soldier’s Call is the one to be on in the Sapphire Stakes at 11/4 with Boylesports now eased in grade.

El Astronaute a danger in Sapphire Stakes

With Garrus facing that swing in weights from his Listed victory at York, joint topweight El Astronaute looks the main danger based on his fine record in Ireland.

Trained by the in-form John Quinn, the experienced six-year-old gelding has won 12 of his 45 career starts – including his last two in the Emerald Isle.

El Astronaute landed a Listed contest at Cork on his penultimate outing by three-quarters of a length.

He then followed-up under a welter burden in the Rockingham Premier Handicap during the Irish Derby Festival here last month.

As El Astronaute won by a length despite topweight means a 5lb rise in his rating. That puts him in the mix here.

El Astronaute is versatile as regards going, but any forecast showers won’t inconvenience him. He can prove himself better than a handicapper and odds of 9/2 with BetVictor here are respected.

Soffia the Sapphire Stakes each-way value

Of the rest, four-year-old filly Soffia is another course and distance winner like El Astronaute and has a good record at The Curragh.

That makes the Edward Lynam trained daughter of Kyllachy each-way value here. Soffia broke her maiden tag here last June and then followed-up in Down Royal and Naas handicaps.

She later landed the Bold Lad Premier Handicap on Irish Champions Weekend over 6f off a light weight by three-quarters of a length.

After shaping as though needing the run on reappearance at Navan, Soffia went down by a neck at Naas before winning a Listed race at the fifth attempt.

That came in the Sole Power Sprint where she asserted close home for a 1 1/2 lengths success over Final Venture.

Soffia then found plenty for pressure when holding Dan’s Dream by a neck in the Group 3 Ballyogan Stakes over 6f here.

She is three out of three at this venue and such course specialism has to be respected too. At 7/1 with Betfair, Soffia looks well worth an each-way punt especially as she gets a 3lb sex allowance from the older males.

Move Swiftly a strong fancy in Kilboy Estate

Jockey Tudhope has leading claims of a big race double as he partners William Haggas’ British raider Move Swiftly.

She can weight all-round in a poor renewal of the Group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes over 1m 1f (15:45).

The four-year-old Farhh filly took her form to a new level when landing the similar grade Duke Of Cambridge Stakes by a neck from Rawdaa at Royal Ascot.

Move Swiftly relished soft ground in Berkshire, threw down her challenge approaching the final furlong and ran on.

That display sets a clear standard here where the opposition is vastly inferior to that encountered at Royal Ascot.

On the face of it, Move Swiftly faces no easy task giving 12lb to the three-year-old contingent of Aidan O’Brien, but still comes out joint top on adjusted ratings.

With the Haggas team in fine fettle and Tudhope again aboard, this looks a great chance for her to follow-up.

You can back Move Swiftly at 8/11 with 888Sport to do just that here.

Joseph O’Brien trained six-year-old Red Tea can give her most to think about after running well since joining the yard.

The experienced daughter of Sakhee bolted up by 4 3/4 lengths in a mile handicap here on her second start of this season.

Red Tea was then a never nearer 1 3/4 lengths third to Beshaayir in a Group 2 at this venue on her penultimate start.

Of those who re-oppose from the Duke Of Cambridge here, she got closest to Move Swiftly when staying on into eighth.

This is easier than Royal Ascot and, with the three-year-old fillies needing to improve, Red Tea rates an each-way alternative at 11/2 with Betway in the Kilboy Estate.