dick heads right way.
Byline: PETER O'HEHIR
DICK WHITTINGTON looks the horse to beat in the Group 2 Friarstown Stud Minstrel Stakes, twin-feature of tomorrow's Curragh card.
The four-year-old was a group 1 winner as a juvenile, when he landed the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes on this track.
Fourth to Mohaarar in the Greenham at Newbury in the spring of last year, he missed the rest of his three-year-old season. But he has gradually returned to form in recent starts and should be primed for a big run in this competitive contest - over what is arguably his optimum trip, seven furlongs.
Having failed to make an impact behind Onenightidreamed in the Gladness and the Duke Of York, won by Magical Memory, in York, he showed signs of a return to form when a close third behind Mobsta and Flight Risk (runs again tomorrow) in the Greenlands over six furlongs of this track at the Guineas meeting.
And, last time, in the Group 3 Ballycorus Stakes in Leopardstown, he quickened well to beat subsequent winner Al Mohalhal in emphatic style.
Tomorrow's race represents a further step-up in class. But he gets the vote to beat the consistent but luckless Sovereign Debt, British raider Adaay and Toscanini, which bounced back to winning form here last time.
The other Group 2 event, the Kilboy Estate Stakes, for fillies, looks wide open, with a field which includes Hawksmoor, third to Minding in the Fillies Mile last autumn and third again in the Prix Saint-Alary, won by Jemayel, in Deauville last time.
Hugo Palmer's filly and the Dermot Weld-trained Tanaza might prove best of the three-year-olds. But they could struggle against older rival Bocca Baciata, runner-up to Minding in the Pretty Polly last time and a tough, battle-hardened campaigner.
Although a bit disappointing in recent runs, the Aidan O'Brien-trained Istan, off a mark of 82, should prove tough to beat in the Gabriel Curran Memorial Nursery, Ireland's first nursery of the season.
This colt made the running in the Curragh maiden won by subsequent Coventry Stakes fifth Van Der Decken, when he finished behind Chesham Stakes winner Churchill.
Beaten twice since, including at Killarney on Monday, this drop in trip might suit Ryan Moore's mount. And, against this opposition, he should open his account.
The once-raced, Dermot Weld-trained Rose De Pierre is a hopeful nap choice to land the Irish Stallion Farms Fillies Handicap.
This Moyglare-owned daughter of Dubawi justified favouritism on her debut at the Curragh in early May, when appearing to tire and scraping home narrowly from Ottilie.
Given time to mature, she runs here off a mark of 91, which appears tough enough on paper. But she looks the type to make plenty of progress through the season. And she might prove that impression here, with Eddie Lynam's The Tulip the obvious threat.
RETURNING TO FORM Aidan O'Brien-trained Dick Whittington