Classic Trials 2019: Leopardstown

Lady Kaya is fancied for success at Leopardstown this weekend

Will Reilly looks forward to the Classic Trials at Leopardstown this weekend

Away from the excitement of the Aintree Grand National, there are Classic Trials set to produce plenty of their own at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The trials seem to have come around very quickly, emphasised by the fact that trials will also be run at Newbury on Saturday April 13th. The 2,000 Guineas favourite Too Darn Hot is set to run there in the Greenham Stakes, which is sponsored by his owner, Watership Down Stud, aka Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber.

That said, Newbury would, ordinarily, have raced a week later but that was not possible owing to it being Easter weekend.

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This Saturday’s trials at Leopardstown are the Ballylinch Stud ‘Red Rocks’ 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes (Listed Race) at 2:10pm, the Group 3 Ballylinch Stud ‘Priory Belle’ 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes at 2:45pm, and the Group 3 P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes at 3:50pm.

The Ballysax Stakes has been won this century by Derby winners Galileo, High Chaparral, Fame And Glory and Harzand, plus four-time Ascot Gold Cup winner, Yeats, and Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling.

The 1,000 Guineas Trial has produced subsequent Classic winners Homecoming Queen (2012 English 1,000 Guineas), Bracelet (2014 Irish Oaks) and Jet Setting (2016 Irish 1,000 Guineas). Subsequent dual Group 1-winner Hydrangea won in 2017.

One of my horses to follow this year is Japan, trained by Aidan O’Brien, who skips the Ballysax but holds every chance of making up into a lovely, high-class three-year-old. A profile of him is included at the bottom of this piece.

It’s fair to say that Aidan’s horses have yet to sparkle this season, so the horse I like in the 2,000 Guineas Trial is Madhmoon (2:10pm), who is trained by Kevin Prendergast..

I was at Leopardstown when he won in September and would describe him as a good-looking colt with plenty of scope. He’s an exciting prospect and, hopefully, he will confirm his talent on Saturday.

I left Leopardstown that day thinking we’d witnessed a very good horse, although unsure as to whether he would handle the Dip at Newmarket. However, that’s for another day and I look forward to Leopardstown first of all.

The unexpected soft ground poses a question for most of the field on Saturday, although not for Wargrave, who will be fit following a Naas maiden win on March 24th. However, Madhmoon possesses more class, which can help him prevail.

Last season’s Group 1 Fillies’ Mile winner Iridessa boasts the best form in the 1,000 Guineas Trial, although her least-good run last season came on good to yielding going. One-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of her on that occasion was Lady Kaya, and she will be three pounds better off at the weights at Leopardstown.

Three-parts of a length ahead of Lady Kaya that day (in a race won by Skitter Scatter) was Aidan O’Brien’s Zagitova, although she then finished two places and one-and-a-half lengths behind Lady Kaya in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes, which was also won by Skitter Scatter, at The Curragh in September.

Race fitness for all of these fillies has to be taken on trust in Saturday’s race, but Iridessa, Lady Kaya and Zagitova (who finished well behind Iridessa in the Fillies’ Mile but something may have been amiss that day) are the three best on ratings.

A win for Lady Kaya would be a huge filip for Sheila Lavery’s stable and a lovely story for the industry. I’ll nominate her as the selection on Saturday.

As mentioned earlier, the Ballysax Stakes has been won by some top-class horses and, no doubt, some good ones will emerge from it this year.

Interestingly, the fourth (Sovereign), Pythion (6th) and seventh (Guaranteed, who has since won at Group level, where he finished ahead of Sovereign) from the Beresford Stakes, all run.

Aidan O’Brien runs Broome, Sovereign and Sydney Opera House but, as mentioned, Aidan’s horses do not look as forward as some other major stables this season. Chief among these is that of Dermot Weld, who runs Tankerville, who created a good impression when winning a maiden at Gowran Park last season, his only run to date.

On the back of one run, can a maiden winner get the better of a colt (Broome) that was second in the Group 1 Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp last October? It’d be some effort. As such, I’m going to select Broome, who will be ridden by Ryan Moore, as the Ballysax winner.

It will, though, be an interesting race to watch as pieces for the Classic puzzle start to fall into place.


Leopardstown selections:

2:10pm, Madhmoon

2:45pm, Lady Kaya

3:50pm, Broome

Here’s that profile on Japan:

Japan, trained by Aidan O’Brien

A half-brother to Group 2 winner Sir Isaac Newton and Group 3 winner Secret Gesture and closely-related to the 1998 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sagamix and French Group 1 winner Sagacity, Japan, a son of Galileo out of the Danehill mare Shastye, ended last season by scrambling home in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes at Naas from stable companion Mount Everest.

However, the winning distance of a short head doesn’t tell the whole story as he got caught behind horses at a key stage of the contest before quickening up to get up close home.

He possesses lots of scope and enters his three-year-old season as a promising colt.

Recent winners of the Beresford include Alamshar, Azamour, Sea The Stars, St Nicholas Abbey, Capri and Saxon Warrior, so it is often a pointer to a very good horse.

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article