All of us enjoy reading about the successes of Irish horses, whether that's Irish-bred, Irish-trained, or Irish-owned, but particularly so when they're performing well overseas. Keeping up to date with recent winners is always exciting when the likes of Mullins and O'Brien are in top form, so we'll be hoping for some big results with Royal Ascot around the corner. Oddschecker will be providing plenty of coverage on all entrants' chances in the lead up to the festival. So, whether you're a punter or a patriot, or indeed both, you'll be interested to hear about Ireland's best hopes for success at this year's Royal Ascot festival.
Burning Victory, Ascot Gold Cup
With odds of currently 25/1, it's possible that Burning Victory won't manage to set the world alight with his upcoming performance. However, over the course of this year so far he has been running over distances very close to that of the Gold Cup, 2m3f, 2m4f and 2m4,1/2f. Despite the fact that these races have been over hurdles and fences, they still give a good indication that trainer Mullins has managed to find the distance that Burning Victory performs best over. From these last three starts he's won one, come fourth in one and come a distant ninth in the other, though that ninth place was over fences, over which he tends to underperform.
Most will agree that form over hurdles isn't always the best indicator of how a horse will perform on the flat, especially not in a race where the stakes are quite as high as the Gold Cup.
So, it's important to look back on Burning Victory's flat form. To do this we have to wind back three years and take into account that he was being trained in France at the time, rather than Mullins in Ireland. With that in mind, he managed to come 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th in that season, with his win coming in a good quality maiden, where he stretched out to win by 3 and a half lengths.
Notably, his 2nd place was only by a short neck and he came in front of Orglandes who has since gone on to win some nice races. It's hard to say whether Burning Victory will achieve her best ever form, but she's proven that he knows how to win a race and Mullins wouldn't enter a horse that didn't stand a chance of success.
Red Azalea, Ribblesdale Stakes
Though odds haven't been announced yet for the Ribblesdale Stakes, this Group 2 race is likely to be highly competitive. Aidan O'Brien has entered just one horse into this race, Red Azalea. This three-year-old filly is yet to achieve her first win, despite setting off at short odds on a number of occasions in her short career. With that said, she's run respectably each time, securing two 2nd places, two 3rd places and a 4th, never finishing more than 5 and a half lengths behind the winner.
All of the races she's run in so far have been Maidens and all over a distance somewhat shorter than the 1m4f Ribblesdale Stakes.
She's a well-bred filly from Coolmore Stud, with the renowned Galileo as her sire and her dam's sire being the great Invincible Spirit. So, from a breeding standpoint, she certainly has the credentials.
O'Brien clearly thinks well of her too, having entered her into the Irish Oaks later on in the year too.
Changingoftheguard, King Edward VII Stakes
Finally, a quick word for Changingoftheguard, who Aidan O'Brien has entered into the King Edward VII Stakes. He won at Chester earlier in the year and ran respectably in the Derby at Epsom. Like Red Azalea, he's by the great Galileo and has good breeding on his dam's side too. However, he'd need to run an impressive personal best to feature in this competitive field.