05/23/2002 11:00PM

Nayef guns for Gold Cup

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Nayef, the second-highest rated older horse in Europe, seeks his sixth consecutive win in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh on Sunday.

A 4-year-old son of Gulch, Nayef has a Timeform rating of 129, second only to Sakhee's 136. A handy winner of the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic on March 24, the Marcus Tregoning trainee should live up to his 3-2 favoritism in this 1 5/16-mile contest.

Nayef runs on any kind of ground, so the prevailing soft going at The Curragh should not pose a problem.

But danger looms in the presence of Rebelline, who is coming off a narrow upset of Johannesburg in the Gladness Stakes. Bach and Indian Creek are recent stakes winners, while Tobougg would be right there on his best effort.

* Zenda led throughout to take the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) two weeks ago, but she will be hard-pressed to do so again in the Irish 1000 Guineas. Among those challenging her are Gossamer, who must improve over her eighth-place finish in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket; Alasha, who was half-length third behind Kazzia at Newmarket; and Heat Haze, Banks Hill's half-sister who was fifth behind Zenda in the Pouliches.

Aidan O'Brien saddles five, the best of them Quarter Moon and Kournakova, but the pick is the Michael Stoute-trained Alasha, who has been unlucky in both her starts this year.

* Sixteen will line up for the $1.2 million Derby Italiano, a 1 1/2-mile Group 1 classic at the Capannelle in Rome. Kieren Fallon, who has had a rough week, having been dismissed as the stable rider for Maktoum Al Maktoum, will be aboard the Aidan O'Brien-trained Ballingarry, a Group 1 and Group 2 winner who has much to prove after his flop in the Prix Lupin two weeks ago.