Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas (Group 1) | 3yo | 1m | ITV4/RTV
Can Magna Grecia complete the double?
Magna Grecia, winner of the Qipco 2,000 Guineas three weeks ago, will be attempting to become the fifth Aidan O’Brien-trained colt to complete the Newmarket-Curragh Guineas double when he clashes with Too Darn Hot and 12 other rivals in the Tattersalls-sponsored Classic.
O’Brien, who is seeking a 12th win in the contest, first completed the double with Rock Of Gibraltar in 2002 and since then Henrythenavigator, Gleneagles and Churchill successfully followed up their wins at Newmarket, with only George Washington coming up short in 2006.
Magna Grecia, winner of the Vertem Futurity Stakes at Doncaster on his final start last year, will be renewing rivalry with Phoenix Of Spain, who finished a head second to him in the juvenile Group 1, and 2,000 Guineas third Skardu.
O’Brien said: “We were delighted with Magna Grecia at Newmarket. He came out of the race well and we’ve been very happy with him since. We're looking forward to tomorrow."
Donnacha O’Brien rode Magna Grecia at Newmarket but Ryan Moore takes over with O’Brien partnering Dee Stakes-runner-up Mohawk as his father fields a team of five in the race.
“Mohawk ran very well under a penalty at Chester when second to Circus Maximus and the better ground will suit him. Van Beethoven wasn’t suited by the slow ground in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and he, too, will appreciate the faster conditions," said O’Brien, who is also represented by Old Glory and Globe Theatre.
Redemption for Too Darn Hot?
Last season's champion juvenile Too Darn Hot is handed a chance to emulate his sire Dubawi, who landed the first Irish Classic of the season 14 years ago.
After missing out on both the Greenham and 2,000 Guineas due to a splint problem, the colt is making up for lost time just nine days after his gallant second in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York.
Having chased Telecaster home that day, the Andrew Lloyd Webber-owned colt came out in such fine fettle that trainer John Gosden thought he had better back him up in Ireland rather than try to keep the lid on until Royal Ascot next month.
Gosden knows all about the race having won it with Kingman in 2014 while Frankie Dettori is seeking a third victory after Bachir (2000) and Dubawi (2005).
Gosden said: "Obviously it's an unconventional approach to a Classic but as has been well publicised his programme this year has been compromised. He was very fresh and only 85 percent fit for the Dante but still ran a good race.
"He has taken that race well and has pleased at home since. With that in mind, it therefore made sense to go for an important race like the Irish 2,000 Guineas."
Unlike at York, Too Darn Hot will have no pacemaker for assistance but Gosden expects there to be plenty of pace on. He added: "We are looking forward to running him on what is a very fair track and we hope for a clean race. May the best horse win. "
Skardu's connections hoping for better luck
Skardu fared the best of those who raced up the middle in the 2,000 Guineas three weeks ago when finishing a four and a quarter length third.
Trainer William Haggas has since been pleased with the progress of the son of Shamardal, who was an impressive winner of the Craven Stakes in April.
Haggas said: "Skardu was not done any favours with how the race panned out at Newmarket but ran very well. It looks a stronger race than it did a week ago but he's in good shape and we'll give it a go."
Phoenix ready to rise on first start
Phoenix Of Spain gets his campaign belatedly underway but has already seen one racecourse this year having enjoyed a gallop before racing at the Craven meeting.
The Charlie Hills-trained grey did not make a return trip to the Rowley Mile, however, after a dirty scope ruled him out of the 2,000 Guineas but he is now back in business.
The son of Lope De Vega chased home both Too Darn Hot and and Magna Grecia as a juvenile, most recently when running the latter to a head in the Vertem Futurity.
Hills said of Jamie Spencer's mount: "Phoenix Of Spain had a dirty scope a week after his gallop but is fine again now and we expect him to run a big race. It looks a proper contest and, although he lacks match practice, he should give a good account.
"I think the Curragh will suit him with his action and he's proven at the trip. The one little negative would be taking on horses who have had a run."
Decrypt to solve the Classic puzzle?
A first Classic runner for Paddy Twomey, Decrypt has won two of his three starts and booked his place in the line-up when scoring by three lengths over seven furlongs at Cork last month.
Billy Lee partners the son of Dark Angel and Twomey said: "Decrypt is in good form but it's a very good race. There's a high level of competition there, but he's earned the right to take his chance.
"I expect him to run very well and I expect him to be in the shake-up at the finish. We're looking forward to it."
A first for the Aga Khan?
Trainer Dermot Weld and jockey Chris Hayes have both sampled Irish 2,000 Guineas success but Shelir's owner the Aga Khan has yet to have his famous colours carried to victory in the race.
Shelir, unbeaten in two starts, won the Listed Tetrarch Stakes over seven furlongs at the track earlier this month.
Weld said: "Shelir is an improving colt and won nicely last time but he is still a work in progress and this looks like being as good a mile race for three-year-olds as we'll have this season. I think he will run a good race and that he will improve."
Guaranteed on the trail
Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning will be on the trail of a first win in the event with Guaranteed, who won the Group 3 Eyrefield Stakes over 1m1f at Leopardstown on his final start last year.
On his two runs this season the son of Teofilo has finished out of the money behind Derby hopeful Broome in the Ballysax Stakes and the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.
Sporting chance for Superman
After winning handicaps at Leopardstown and Naas on his first two starts this season, the Michael O'Callaghan-trained I Am Superman, the mount of Leigh Roche, started favourite for the Tetrarch Stakes at the course earlier this month.
He could only finish fifth behind Shelir but O'Callaghan is prepared to put a line through that performance. He explained: "I probably ran him back a bit quick after his previous race and he also pulled off a shoe during the race.
"It's a very hot Guineas but he's as well as I've ever had him. I think he'll run well and that he has a sporting chance."
Hillwalker a first for Cleary
Hillwalker, a first Group 1 runner for trainer Thomas Cleary, has run only twice including when winning a seven furlong maiden at Gowran Park in June on his second start.
The son of Foxwedge, who will be partnered by Rory Cleary, is owned by the Dream Big Syndicate which is made up of Cleary's family members and friends.
The trainer said: "I couldn't be happier with Hillwalker. It's very exciting and although he's an outsider, I'm really looking forward to running him. After Rory won on him last year he felt he'd be up to running in this standard of race."
Atzeni reunited with Emaraaty Ana
Andrea Atzeni is back on board last year's Gimcrack winner after missing out in the 2,000 Guineas through suspension. In the end, the Italian did not miss much with the Kevin Ryan-trained colt beating only one home.
Adam Ryan, assistant to trainer Kevin Ryan, said: "He was too keen at Newmarket. It's a big ask but he's travelled over well and hopefully he show can his true colours."