Wednesday, 10th Jun 2020
The feature race on Friday evening’s card at The Curragh is the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas (18:40) and Armory looks the pick of six Aidan O’Brien runners in this 1m Classic contest.
This Galileo colt won three of his seven starts as a juvenile last season and ran some big races in defeat. After a comfortable victory going away in a 7f Curragh maiden, Armory stepped up into Group company and followed-up at Leopardstown.
He ran out an easy five-length winner of the Tyros Stakes, then stepped up in grade for the Futurity Stakes here. Armory kept on well inside the final furlong and held the re-opposing Rebel Tale by three-quarters of a length.
That earned him a crack the Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend. Only Pinatubo finished ahead of Armory and he was the highest rated juvenile in 25 years.
Stepping up to a mile on very soft ground also saw him run well in defeat on Arc weekend at Longchamp. Armory ran a length third to subsequent French 2000 Guineas hero Victor Ludroum in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.
The runner-up, Alson, also finished third in that Classic at Deauville earlier this month. Punters should disregard Armory’s final start last season when failing to fire in a rematch with that rival.
It was heavy going and at the end of a lengthy campaign. Horses sired by Galileo are bred to improve as three-year-olds, so Armory could well do likewise.
Wayne Lordan now takes the ride, so Armory has plenty going for him in the Irish 2000 Guineas. O’Brien has had plenty of winners since Irish racing resumed, so this Ballydoyle inmate looks the one to be on.
Heading the betting is the undefeated Siskin for trainer Ger Lyons and owner Prince Khalid Abdullah. Untried over further than 6f, however, the question is whether or not he will stay?
This First Defence colt progressed to win a Listed race here when quickly turned out after his Naas maiden win. Siskin completed his hat-trick in the Group 2 Railway Stakes when an eased down 2 1/2 lengths winner over Monarch Of The Egypt.
He confirmed form with the re-opposing runner-up in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes when last in action. Siskin found plenty for pressure, asserting close home for a three-quarters of a length victory.
Lyons resisted the temptation to run this horse in some of the big autumn juvenile events. That is either because a softer surface didn’t suit or he had concerns about Siskin’s stamina.
With that question mark hanging over him, this favourite may be worth opposing. Other Group 1 winners over 6f haven’t fired in the British Classics, so Siskin is taken on.
Of the other five O’Brien runners in the 11-strong field, Royal Lytham may have more to offer. This son of previous Irish 2000 Guineas winner Gleneagles won two of his four starts last season.
After landing a Navan maiden, Royal Lytham was quickly turned out at Royal Ascot for the Coventry Stakes. He finished seventh in that Group 2 contest behind re-opposing stable companion Fort Myers.
However, Royal Lytham improved on that effort with a well-judged victory in the July Stakes at Newmarket. He then enjoyed no luck at in the Phoenix Stakes.
Besides the saddle slipping, Royal Lytham found himself short of room at a key stage. That forced his rider to switch him and he kept on well near the finish.
As Royal Lytham was only beaten by a length, that performance can be upgraded. The Irish 2000 Guineas demands more, but he should appreciate the step up in trip.