Racing: The pace points to Barathea

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The Independent Online
FITZCARRALDO'S mission to The Curragh this afternoon will seem sacrilegious to fans of Klaus Kinski. The horse's decidedly unadventurous task is to make the running for his stablemate, Barathea, writes Chris Corrigan.

In place of wild-eyed idealism, guiding the horse will be the coolness of Walter Swinburn whose humdrum job will be to set up the Irish 2,000 Guineas for Michael Roberts, rider of the hot favourite.

Trainers of most of the home- based runners were already conceding yesterday that the presence of pace-making Fitzcarraldo virtually seals victory for Barathea, who finished second to Zafonic in the English 2,000 at Newmarket two weeks ago and could go for the Derby on 2 June if indicating staying prowess today.

Rain was softening the ground last night and, in theory, this should favour Fatherland, one of the better colts attempting to keep the prize in Ireland. But there was little pride in this one's performance after he was beaten two lengths into second place by Massyar over seven furlongs at Leopardstown a month ago.

'He had done plenty of work and he may be just another colt who has gone backwards, rather than forwards, since last season,' Vincent O'Brien, his trainer, said at the time. Ballydoyle confidence in Lester Piggott's mount has apparently grown since then, but it is hard to ignore O'Brien's original assessment.

Massyar and Unusual Heat, then, are probably the main home defence, though the latter's trainer, Dermot Weld, still feels that Barathea is a high class colt who will prove extremely difficult to beat.

This race has been won for the last four years by English stables. Does this vex the Irish? 'Absolutely not,' Weld replies firmly. 'I'm no more fed up with that than I was last year winning at Royal Ascot with Brief Truce or taking the Cesarewitch at Newmarket with Vintage Crop, backed from 25-1 down to nothing.'

Today's racing in Britain goes into a huddle, abandoning any pretence to be an alternative to Wembley. Only if your team are 3-0 down after 20 minutes would a trip to the betting shop appear justified. Jigsaw Boy (Newbury 3.30), highly encouraging on his seasonal reappearance, looks one of the few worth sprinting down the High Street for.

CURRAGH 5.00 (1m 2f Tattersalls Gold Cup): Garden Of Heaven (trained by C Brittain) ridden by -; George Augustus (J Oxx) M Kinane; Approach The Bench (J Mulhern) -; Environment Friend (N C Wright) G Duffield; Ezzoud (M Stoute) W R Swinburn; Irish Memory (J Bolger) C Roche; Silver Wisp (G Lewis) L Piggott. (7 declared)

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