Steinbeck ready to test vintage in Irish Guineas

The 2,000 guineas hero Makfi's place at the top of the three-year-old milers' leader board, which survived the Poule d'Essai des Poulains at Longhamp two days ago, is likely to come under more severe pressure on Saturday at the Curragh in the Irish version of the Classic. Canford Cliffs and Xtension, third and fourth on the Rowley Mile, will be the yardsticks for that form, but installed as favourite yesterday was Steinbeck, as yet unraced this year but always held in the highest regard by Aidan O'Brien.

The colt has not run since his fine fourth place in the Dewhurst Stakes last October. On that occasion, only the second race of his life after a five-month break, he started second favourite despite his inexperience and finished only half a length behind the winner, his long-priced stablemate Beethoven, after running out of puff in the last 100 yards.

His reappearance was delayed by a setback in March, when he was among the leading fancies for the Newmarket Guineas, but he is now beginning to approach his peak again, mind and physique sharpened by an awayday at the Curragh two weeks ago, and his trainer is only one of those keen in his anticipation. "He's always excited us," said O'Brien, "and though it's never ideal for a horse to have a month off when he's starting to thrive, he's in good order."

O'Brien has already won six Irish 2,000 Guineas, including the last two editions with Mastercraftsman and Henrythenavigator. Steinbeck is one of nine from Ballydoyle among the 20 remaining in the Group One contest, a contingent which also includes another seasonal debutant, Jan Vermeer, and Fencing Master, seventh behind Makfi 17 days ago.

Steinbeck, a son of Footstepsinthesand, is the 11-4 market leader for the Abu Dhabi-sponsored race, with Canford Cliffs, one of five possible raiders from Britain, second choice at 3-1. Fencing Master, well-supported yesterday, is next on the list at 5-1 and Xtension 6-1.

In finishing a length and three- quarters adrift of Makfi at Newmarket, Canford Cliffs was half a length behind his Richard Hannon stablemate Dick Turpin, who was subsequently beaten three-quarters of a length by Lope De Vega in France on Sunday. The Guineas was Canford Cliffs' second defeat in as many runs this term and, having looked special when he ran away with the Coventry Stakes last summer, now has a reputation to redeem.

"Things have not gone to script so far this year," said Hannon, "but he has been in great nick since Newmarket. We know what he can do on the gallops and we hope he will show everyone in Ireland what a good horse he really is."

Hannon already has two Irish Guineas on his CV, but courtesy of horses who won the original, Tirol and Don't Forget Me. One man seeking his first Classic is Clive Cox, the trainer of Xtension, who was a neck in front of Steinbeck, and a nose behind runner-up Fencing Master, in that Dewhurst Stakes tea-towel finish. Lambourn-based Cox is looking forward to having another crack at the perceived cracks. "We've got the benefit of a run under our belts now," he said, "and the ground in Ireland should suit him, it's good with a warm forecast.

"A mile is a pleasing distance for him and a stiff track like the Curragh should suit him well. It's going to be a hot race, as you'd expect for a Group One, but he came out of the Guineas really well. He's a very straightforward horse with a great temperament and we couldn't be more pleased with his progress since Newmarket."

Whatever the result on Saturday, the three major European Guineas will have different winners. The decider will be the St James' Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot next month, already nominated as Makfi's next target.

Turf Account

* Sue Montgomery's Nap

Royal Exchange (2.30 Nottingham)

Just touched off on his debut last month in a race that has already produced three subsequent winners. His experience can stand him in good stead against well-regarded newcomers.



*Next best

Four Kicks (4.50 Brighton)

Has form on this tricky track and is on an upward roll for her new connections, progress which may be maintained for her step up in distance.



*One to watch

Beautifully bred three-year-old Marywell (J H M Gosden) produced a most promising effort at Warwick on her belated debut, finishing to some purpose after a slow start. She should soon find a race and pay her way over middle distances.



*Where the money's going

Henry Cecil has an outstanding record in the Oaks and punters are showing faith in York winner Aviate, now challenging Rumoush for favouritism at 5-1 in several lists.



*Chris McGrath's Nap

Eager To Bow (3.20 Brighton)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there