Racing: Oratorio and Fallon to strike up the Ballydoyle chorus

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The Independent Online

There is a little bit of everything this weekend at the Curragh, a smorgasbord of delights which includes two Classics and the best race for older horses run anywhere in the world this year. By the time we get up from the table, everybody should be satisfied.

The Irish 2,000 Guineas this afternoon is a strange race in that Rebel Rebel, who was in front of Oratorio and Dubawi in the British version, now finds himself once again behind the celebrity couple in the betting. It is almost as if Newmarket never happened.

The nasty realisation of the swift journey down the Rowley Mile was that Dubawi had failed those who chose to anoint him as the next superhorse. It now appears he can only perform in a particular set of going conditions.

"Softer ground will suit Dubawi much better and I am looking forward to him running in Ireland," Saeed bin Suroor, his trainer, said yesterday. "Dubawi has been working well." This has been said before.

The actualité is that Dubawi looked an uncomfortable horse at Newmarket. Oratorio too struggled to finish a head in front of the Godolphin colt, but his displeasure looked as though it might be a learning process and lead to something positive. Kieren Fallon's mount can claim another Classic win for Ballydoyle.

Back in Britain, some rather acceptable prizes and pots have been put in the shade by the majesty of the Curragh cards. Still, that will matter little to the winner of the Silver Bowl at Haydock, where £95,000 has to be spread around. HOME AFFAIRS (nap 3.30) may be making a seasonal debut here but that matters not a jot when Sir Michael Stoute is the trainer. The colt was thought good enough to run in the Dewhurst last autumn, in which he almost drowned. Before that he beat Notability three lengths at Yarmouth at level weights and now gets 4lb. We will not be able to explain that human logic to the Martians when they land.

At Newmarket, the Coral Sprint can go to Coleorton Dancer (3.45), who did not get the split at Chester last time, while in-form trainer John Dunlop has one for the King Charles II Stakes. Castle Stable's Museeb (next best 3.10) was second to Tucker on this course last month and the winner has gone on to show that was not the great disappointment it seemed at the time.

Back on the plains of Co Kildare, there is an even better offering in tomorrow's card which, chronologically, is first graced by the Tattersalls Gold Cup and the likes of Bago, Azamour and Grey Swallow. No race like this seems complete without Norse Dancer either.

Bago has plenty of plusses here. Jonathan Pease's colt already has the benefit of a winning run, in the Prix Ganay, while he also has the biggest bauble in his vault, last season's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Grey Swallow, on the other hand, is expected to improve considerably for the race, while Azamour has only just made it after bruising a foot at the beginning of the week.

On most other days, the Group Three Gallinule Stakes could lead a card in its own right, but here it is just a bit-part player. Nevertheless, there will be interest in whether either Ehsan and Scorpion, both unbeaten and unexposed colts, can provide further reason to back them for the Derby.

The Irish 1,000 Guineas could be the vehicle for Fallon to complete a double double. In this, Ballydoyle's stable jockey rides Virginia Waters, his compliant partner in the Newmarket Guineas the day after he had triumphed in the colts' race on Footstepsinthesand.

Virginia Waters will have some old rivals to contend with, but her most intriguing opponent is Damson, the winner of the Queen Mary and Phoenix Stakes last season now making her seasonal reappearance. Further seasoning is applied by the fact that she, like the favourite, is owned by Sue Magnier and Michael Tabor, but trained not at Ballydoyle but by David Wachman just along the road.

And, finally, there are goodies also in the United States this evening when Giacomo pursues the Holy Grail of American racing, the Triple Crown, and attempts to add the Preakness at Pimlico to his Kentucky Derby success. Giacomo was 50-1 when taking the Run for the Roses and obviously is much shorter now, even though Afleet Alex, the third at Churchill Downs, is the favourite.

Richard Edmondson

Nap: Home Affairs (Haydock 3.30)

NB: Museeb (Newmarket 3.10)