Aidan O’Brien is hoping decent ground conditions will see Gustav Klimt and US Navy Flag show their true colours in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday.
Both horses displayed their best form on quicker ground last term but have this season yet to peak, with Gustav Klimt sixth to stablemate Saxon Warrior in the Qipco 2000 Guineas, and Middle Park and Dewhurst scorer US Navy Flag only fifth in the French equivalent.
However, with the weather having improved considerably, O’Brien has reason to be optimistic as he seeks to win the colts’ Classic for a 12th time.
“Gustav Klimt seems to be fine, obviously we were a little bit disappointed with him and we are hoping he’ll leave that run behind him,” said the Ballydoyle handler.
“He shows plenty of pace at home so we’ll find out a lot at the Curragh looking to Ascot, whether we go for the St James’s Palace or come back in trip with him.
“I think he’ll appreciate the fast ground as he’s a good-moving horse. US Navy Flag is by War Front and out of a Galileo mare so the better the ground would suit him.”
O’Brien supports his big two with the maiden Spanish Point and Threeandfourpence, who was well beaten in a Grade Two contest at Churchill Downs three week ago.
Mark Johnston reports Elarqam in tip-top shape as he bids to improve upon his fourth place at Newmarket – but he is aware of the threat posed by the all-powerful Ballydoyle team.
“We’ve got no ground preferences. He has only run the three times on varying ground and we will just take it as it comes,” said Johnston.
“The field looks ideal and the horse is in great order. Everything is good. Obviously he (O’Brien) has got four in it which makes it a little bit more difficult.”
“I’ve got the greatest of respect for US Navy Flag. He was a great horse last year. He had enough defeats last year and bounced back from them at the highest level.
“You’ve got to respect him despite his last run, but basically we just care that our horse runs up to his best.”
Charlie Appleby believes Symbolization deserves his chance at the top level.
“Symbolization is a colt who has progressed through the season to date,” said Appleby.
“He got beaten on first start at Newmarket, but he has subsequently came on and won a nice handicap under top weight and the form of his first run at Newmarket got a boost at the weekend, too. He’s come out of his last run very well.”
Fozzy Stack is happy to give Zihba his chance after the son of Choisir took his unblemished record to three in the Group Three Amethyst Stakes at Leopardstown.
“He’s in good shape. We’re happy with him and hopefully he’ll run a big race,” said Stack.
“If he runs his race we can’t ask any more than that.”
Jessica Harrington has been waiting for improved ground conditions to get Landshark back to the racecourse.
The Bated Breath colt has run just the twice last August. After making a winning debut at Leopardstown, he was second to US Navy Flag in the Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh, beaten six lengths.
“We’ve been waiting for quick ground. He’s in great form and is ready to go,” said the County Kildare handler.
Ken Condon believes Romanised, who was second to Masar at Sandown last season, could outrun his long odds – as long as he settles.
“I’m happy with him. I think if he relaxes early he will run a big race at a big price,” he said.
“The Solario was a good run last year and I think he’s well entitled to take his chance.”