Judge to claim Guineas glory
Channel 4 Racing commentator Simon Holt previews Sunday's Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.
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JUST THE JUDGE, who lost her unbeaten record when narrowly foiled by the late thrust of Sky Lantern in the 1000 Guineas, looks to have strong credentials as she bids to go one better in the Irish version of the miling Classic at The Curragh on Sunday.
The Charles Hills-trained filly, who won all three of her starts last year, looked slightly backward in her coat before that reappearance at Newmarket yet was unfortunate not to win, leading inside the final furlong until headed by the winner (who had the benefit of a previous run) in the last 50 yards.
It was a fine effort by Just The Judge proving that she has trained on well following some classy performances last year and, with improvement for that run expected, she can confirm the Guineas placings with Snow Queen (fifth), Maureen (sixth) and Masarah (eighth).
However, there is a chance that Snow Queen, the chosen mount of Joseph O'Brien amongst his father Aidan's three runners, could get a bit closer now fitted with a visor for the first time as she got badly behind at Newmarket before finishing with a flourish. The headgear could just sharpen her up a bit in the early stages while Maureen might arguably have finished closer but for encountering some interference.
O'Brien's other two runners Hanky Panky (Ryan Moore) and Just Pretending (Seamie Heffernan) both won their recent trials but, on form, appear to have something to find.
There are one or two fillies who look potentially smart yet are currently unexposed. Big Break didn't come to hand in time for Newmarket but shaped nicely when winning twice at Leopardstown last season and is a beautifully bred daughter of Dansili running in the Khaled Abdulla colours. Her trainer Dermot Weld has been in very good form of late.
And Harasiya hasn't got too much to find if she's to get involved after her third (beaten just under three lengths) behind Sky Lantern in the Moyglare Stud Stakes over seven furlongs on this course last September.
John Oxx's filly travelled well that day but will need to see her race out more strongly over this extra furlong while her trainer fields a promising second-string in What Style, who beat Snow Queen at Leopardstown last August and reappeared to finish second (Snow Queen third) behind Rawaaq (disappointing since) on the same course in April.
Another home-trained filly Viztoria could also pose a threat. Eddie Lynam's charge slammed Snow Queen in heavy ground here last September before finishing second behind Penny's Picnic (well beaten in the French Guineas) at Maisons-Laffitte in November. She was a comfortable winner, again at The Curragh, over seven furlongs earlier in the month albeit against inferior opposition and should appreciate this trip.