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Testing conditions could give a dark horse the edge; Chief correspondent James Willoughby looks forward to an intriguing fillies' Classic.

Byline: James Willoughby

TWO men look out of the same prison bars, one sees mud and one the stars - Frederick Langbridge's words are often quoted to capture the nature of perspective. Intended as extremes in the old Bishop of Limerick's context, mud and stars are central elements of today's Irish 1,000 Guineas.

If your natural inclination is towards the optimistic, the mud prevalent at the Curragh may enable a hidden talent to reach the stars of Classic glory; Dermot Weld's Dance Pass or the David Wachman-trained Love Bird, perhaps.

However, if you are the type for whom the glass is always half-empty, betting on heavy ground will necessitate particular caution. For you, the mud pulls down the stars to earth and renders the ability to handle conditions too large a part of the equation.

So, where do you go as a punter? That the form of the established elite will hold? If so, you may be happy to assume that the Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Again will return in mint condition. She disappointed in the Prix Marcel Boussac, but is the only Group 1 winner in the field and is proven on soft.

Cuis Ghaire, second in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, was tailed off behind Again in a Group 2 last August when reportedly clinically abnormal. She offers no similar credentials on a soft surface and has often given the impression she would favour some cut. But it is somewhat doubtful she wants this much - she is by Galileo out of a Danehill mare.

By contrast, Cuis Ghaire's stablemate Oh Goodness Me is almost guaranteed to act on the ground. She had no chance on a fast surface in the French 1,000 Guineas last time when held up in a race featuring slovenly sectionals in the early stages. This time there is a lot in her favour.

Lahaleeb is a similar case.

She was a tough two-year-old who carried on the good work when winning the Dubai Duty Free Stakes at Newbury, only to run flat under much firmer conditions in the Guineas.

Her form still held up at Newmarket. The Newbury runner-up Super Sleuth finished a fine third to Ghanaati. Clearly, she acts with some give in the ground.

For all that these horses offer solid form, the going increases the chaos factor from a prediction standpoint, so the temptation is to look for a darker horse. D ANCE PASS and Love Bird are the two most enticing.

The former is by Sadler's Wells out of a Darshaan mare - the golden cross of so many top-class horses. She took three starts to break her maiden and was hardly breathtaking when winning at Naas, but there is a lot of talent there and she looks made for the test.

Love Bird, a well-bred daughter of Pivotal, looked more brilliant when winning by five lengths here this month. The runner-up was subsequently thrashed at Gowran, but there was no disguising Love Bird's talent and she could be anything.

Love Bird's trainer Wachman saddles another intriguing contender in Chintz. She beat Lahaleeb easily in the CL Weld Park Stakes on this course last September, but disappointed on her reappearance in March.

Note that she returns to a favourable soft surface now, however.

In turn, Luminous Eyes had beaten Chintz in the Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown last July. She did not run again until September, when a bit disappointing, and looks like Weld's third string on jockey bookings, but she could surprise a few.

Other attractions on an excellent card include the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes and a 1m4f premier handicap, which will take a deal of unravelling, but the Tattersalls Gold Cup is the other Group 1 feature.

The first point to make is that a five-runner field is disappointing, and it is clear conditions have taken their toll. But there is still a lot of interest in the reappearance of Lush Lashes, the super-tough filly who won three Group 1s last year.

Weld has the key here with the very smart pair Famous Name and Casual Conquest, with the latter promising to be much more effective on the going than at Newmarket last time..
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 24, 2009
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