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The Minstrel Stakes is the feature race at the Curragh today and a number of English runners cross the Irish Sea to plunge the pot.

DUTCH CONNECTION could continue Godolphin's superb week and has sound claims. Charlie Hills' charge is not quite up to Group One company but is more than suited to facing the rivals he will in the Minstrel. The son of Dutch Art won the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot a couple of years ago at Royal Ascot, as well as landing the Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last season by one-and-three-quarter lengths. Dutch Connection has only had one run this term, which was in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. Given his lengthy absence, the five-year-old finished sixth but he will come on significantly for that effort. Dutch Connection will relish the ground at the Curragh and James Doyle rides and he gloats a 51% better-than-expected win rate at the track.

From Aidan O'Brien's three runners Ryan Moore has opted to ride SPIRIT OF VALOR. The son of War Front tops BTO+ ratings and things may have clicked for the colt last time. Despite being a 66/1 shot, Spirit Of Valor ran a belter in the Jersey Stakes at the Royal meeting and finished a neck second to Le Brivido. Beforehand, the three-year-old had been beaten comfortably in both the Newmarket and Curragh 2000 Guineas respectively. However, seven furlongs appears to be Spirit Of Valor's optimum trip and O'Brien brags a 26% better-than-expected strike rate in the past two weeks.

Back in third in the Jersey was MUBATISM, who travels across to Ireland for William Haggas. Before his Royal Ascot run, connections pursued the son of Arcano over six furlongs. It was a trip the colt found too sharp, although he has only been beaten by Blue Point and Harry Angel this season. Mubatism was picking up at the end of the Jersey and should be better suited this time around.

There wouldn't be a more popular winner among race-goers than GORDON LORD BYRON who defends his Minstrel crown. Tommy Hogan's charge has been a loyal servant throughout the years and is still running gamely at the ripe age of nine. The son of Byron won the Greenlands Stakes earlier this campaign and also finished a neck second in the Jumeirah Creekside Dash Stakes last time out. Over seven furlongs, Gordon Lord Byron brags a 97% better-than-expected win rate Billy Lee also has a 93% better-than-expected win record over the course and distance.

STORMY ANTARCTIC drops to seven furlongs for the first time since he was a juvenile. Ed Walker's charge has talent but has failed to get his head in front on three occasions this season. The son of Stormy Atlantic finished a short-head second in the Midsummer Stakes at Windsor last time and faces better calibre of opponents at the Curragh. The colt is also more effective with cut in the ground.

COUGAR MOUNTAIN is second-best rated by BTO+ ratings. On his day, the son of Fastnet Rock possesses talent in abundance, but good performances come few and far between and his form this campaign suggests he needs to find more.

Article Posted on Sunday 16th July 2017 @ 10.17

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