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Too Darn Hot and Magna Grecia on course for epic clash in Irish Guineas

Too Darn Hot could show punters what might have been in a fascinating showdown with Qipco 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia at the Curragh on Saturday.

Europe's champion two-year-old was the long-time favourite for the Classic, only to miss the race due to a spring setback.

But he is now quoted at no bigger than 15-8 for the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas after a surprise change of plan that could set him on collision course with the colt who took advantage of his absence from the Newmarket field three weeks ago.

John Gosden had initially nominated the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot as the next target for Too Darn Hot, after the colt lost his unbeaten record in last week's Dante Stakes at York.

But the trainer left him in the Irish 2,000 Guineas on Tuesday and is now considering taking on Ballydoyle's Magna Grecia, a two-and-a-half-length winner at Newmarket whose Curragh odds eased out to a best-priced 11-10 on the news.

"He’s come out of the Dante in great shape and is a horse that likes to be doing things," Gosden said of Too Darn Hot, whose four wins last year culminated in victory in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. "A final decision will be made later in the week.

"He's a horse with a great constitution and he came out of the Dante a very fresh colt. I couldn't be more pleased with the way he came out of the race. It's been frustrating not being able to do what we wanted with him, having two weeks walking."

Reflecting on Too Darn Hot's Dante run, jockey Frankie Dettori said: "Too Darn Hot is a very good horse and is blessed with so much speed. We tried to beat Telecaster but couldn't peg him back. Too Darn Hot was far too keen early and in the last furlong he couldn't bridge the gap."

Curragh CEO Derek McGrath was excited by the news and said: "It's fabulous to think that an exceptional colt like Too Darn Hot might be coming to the Curragh.

"It's a little bit unexpected and that's what makes it so exciting. It has all the makings of a terrific race now and I'm really looking forward to it."

Too Darn Hot and Magna Grecia were among 16 colts confirmed for the race on Tuesday, with Newmarket third Skardu the universal third favourite at a best-priced 7-1.

William Haggas was impressed by the Craven Stakes winner's Newmarket workout on Tuesday morning and said: "Skardu is in good form but he’ll need to be as it looks a tough race.

"James Doyle will take the ride again but we’d rather it not rain over there."

Charlie Hills is set to run Phoenix Of Spain, who is available at 12-1 for his potential rematch with the two market leaders.

The colt finished a length and three-quarters second to Too Darn Hot in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster and was beaten just a head by Magna Grecia in the Vertem Futurity Stakes at the same track on his final start at two.

He has yet to race in 2019 but his trainer said: "He’s not quite been ready to run at either Newmarket or Longchamp, but I’m happy with how he is at the moment.

"You never really know how they're going to do from one year to the next but on looks you’d expect him to make a better three-year-old and that’s certainly what we’re hoping for with him.

"The form from last year looks particularly strong, so we're eager to get him back on the course this weekend. He's a big horse but he’s got a great temperament and really gives you his all."

Qabala on her travels for 1,000 Guineas

Qipco 1,000 Guineas third Qabala has been supplemented for Sunday's Irish 1,000 Guineas on Tuesday.

Trainer Roger Varian said: "Qabala has impressed us since running a very good race in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, where I felt she was a touch unlucky not to finish closer.

"I feel she deserves another crack at a Classic and everything about her demeanour suggests she's ready to go again."

The Nell Gwyn Stakes winner is a best-priced 11-4 second favourite, behind Newmarket winner Hermosa (5-2).

 

 

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