The forces of Ballydoyle and Godolphin do classic battle again on Saturday, this time over the sward of the Curragh. The Irish 2,000 Guineas is make-or-break time for Dubawi, the most precocious son of Sheikh Mohammed's favourite horse Dubai Millennium. There are sound reasons to believe that he can redeem himself after disappointing in the English 2,000 Guineas.
He had excuses that day. The turf at Newmarket was super-fast and the way Dubawi kept switching his legs showed that he was never happy on it. Today he will have no such defence. The weather in Kildare has lived up to its reputation and the ground at the Curragh will suit, as will the steady climb to the finish. Dubawi won the National Stakes at the course and a replication of that form should be good enough to turn the tables on Rebel Rebel and Oratorio who finished in front of him at Newmarket.
The big betting race of the day in the UK is the totesport Silver Bowl at Haydock. This is a typically competitive renewal. A fast improver that may prove to be better than a handicapper usually wins this prize and there are several horses that fit the profile, including Real Quality and Pivotal Flame.
The former is preferred. Real Quality has lost only once - on his debut. In the second race of his two-year-old season he beat a filly called Three Degrees that has since only lost by a nose in a Group Three in the US. On his return this season he looked better than ever, winning at Doncaster.
The Coral Sprint Handicap is the highlight of Newmarket's card, and it includes Intoxicating,an imposing stamp of a horse who looks well worth following in sprint company.
3:30 Haydock - Real Quality (win)
3:45 Newmarket - Intoxicating (win)
3:55 Curragh - Dubawi (win)