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The Curragh: Stravinsky must pass his audition.

STRAVINSKY, all the rage in the Sagitta 2,000 Guineas market during the past week, will be the centre of attention when the Irish Flat season starts at The Curragh tomorrow.

The 5-1 Guineas favourite faces six rivals in the seven-furlong Loughbrown Race and yesterday trainer Aidan O'Brien was adopting a wait-and-see policy rather than confirming Stravinsky as the number one Ballydoyle hope for the Newmarket Classic.

He said: "At home and on the track, the next couple of weeks should see everything come together as far as the different Guineas are concerned. It is possible that we might run a few horses in England as part of the sorting-out process.

"Stravinsky is the first of our better three-year-olds to go into action. He is well and we've been happy with the work he has been doing."

The son of Nureyev created a deep impression when winning his debut at York last season, and his reputation over the winter has survived a disappointing third place to Mujahid in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes.

O'Brien added: "He's ready to go to the track and we're looking at Sunday's race as a good piece of work for him.

"I wouldn't like the ground at The Curragh to get any softer [it was described as yielding to soft yesterday] as Stravinsky seems to like it good or better."

Three of Stravinsky's rivals-River Canyon, Tarfaa and Castle Quest-are winners, and Dermot Weld is viewing the race as a test to see if River Canyon, winner of his only start at Tipperary in June, is Irish 2,000 Guineas material.

Weld said yesterday: "River Canyon is very effective on soft ground-it was testing when he won at Tipperary-and has been working nicely. He is quite forward but I expect the run to bring him on a good bit.

"He had a touch of sore shins after his race last year and, as he was very immature, we blistered him and decided to put him away. He's a big colt, almost 16.2, and has plenty of ability."

Weld's Tarry Flynn will be bidding to win the Irish Lincolnshire for the second consecutive year. The trainer added: "The ground will suit him and he is very well. But I'm also expecting Free To Speak to run a big race with top weight."

Pat Smullen rides Tarry Flynn, while Mick Kinane, with no Aidan O'Brien- trained runner in the race, renews his association with Free To Speak.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:O'Hehir, Tony
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 27, 1999
Words:410
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