Horse Racing: James Joyce returns to put big reputation on the line
(The Racing Post Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)3.50 / 2.50 Leopardstown
2,000 Guineas Trial 1m
1000 Guineas Trial 1m
JAMES JOYCE, nominated by Kieren Fallon last month as one he was looking forward to riding this season, makes his reappearance in the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial today, writes Tony O'Hehir.
The Danehill colt faces four rivals, all but one of whom are fellow 2,000 Guineas entries, in the mile Group 3 contest which has been taken by three subsequent Classic winners in the past seven years.
Refuse To Bend was successful in 2003 before landing the Guineas at Newmarket, while Grey Swallow, the 2004 Irish Derby winner, and Saffron Walden, winner of the 1999 Irish 2,000 Guineas, were also successful.
James Joyce, who is also entered for the Vodafone Derby, finished third in a Doncaster maiden in October on his debut and went on to win over seven furlongs at today's track ten days later on his only other start.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien said: "He is in good form and he seems to have done well over the winter.
"We're hoping he runs well and, like most of our horses usually do, he should come on for his first run of the season."
Heliostatic, who ran Vodafone Derby favourite Horatio Nelson close in a maiden in June, was cut by some firms for the Derby after working at The Cur-ragh on Sunday. Jim Bolger, who trains Heliostatic said: "I was happy with his work. He probably won't be mad about soft ground, but he was always going to be more of a three-year-old."
Caribbean, a maiden winner over seven furlongs last season, represents John Oxx, who won this race with Alayan a year ago, while Kevin Prendergast runs Rekaab and is hoping to continue the stable's quick start to the season.
Rekaab is the only one of the quintet not entered for the Newmarket Classic, but Prendergast said: "He is quite forward and has done plenty of work. He would prefer better ground."
Yasoodd is the sole British challenger, and trainer Mick Channon said: "Jim Bolger has a good one, but I've never been frightened to have a go. We go there trying to win. It was either there or the Craven for him."
Ugo Fire will also attempt to continue Prendergast's fine start to the season by landing the Dimitrova 1,000 Guineas Trial over seven furlongs.
The daughter of Bluebird was beaten only a neck when runner-up to Rum-plestiltskin, the 1,000 Guineas favourite, in the Moyglare Stud Stakes in September, and she produced her best effort at the end of a busy campaign when winning the CL Weld Park Stakes at The Curragh on her ninth start of the season.
Prendergast, who is on the six-winner mark for the season, said yesterday: "Ugo Fire is fairly straight and has done plenty at home.
"She won on testing ground at Leopardstown early last season, so soft ground shouldn't be a problem for her.
"On last year's form, she has to have a big chance."
Channon is represented by Asaawir, and the trainer said: "She did nothing wrong last year - she is a bonny filly. She ran very well in a Listed race at Newbury at the backend and was finishing well."
O'Brien runs Lowther Stakes third Beauty Bright and the maiden Kamarinskaya.
He said: "Both are in good form. Our three-year-old fillies may be that little bit more forward than the colts."
Bolger expressed some worries about the ground for Chennai, who won her maiden over today's trip
on fast ground at Galway. The trainer said: "Chennai is in good form, but soft ground is a bit of a concern."
Mrs Snaffles, touched off by Chennai at Galway before beating 1,000 Guineas possible Race For The Stars at The Curragh in August, represents the Frank Ennis stable.
Ennis said: "She's pretty fit and has been working well. I don't think soft ground will be a problem and we're hoping she is at least placed."
The ground at Leopardstown was soft yesterday, and course spokesman Tom Burke said: "There is a chance we might get some misty rain, but the ground is probably heading towards yielding or yielding to soft."