Irish 2,000 Guineas: Charlie Appleby on Native Trail's chances

Saturday: 3.20 Curragh
Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas (Group 1) | 1m | 3yo | RTE/ITV4/RTV

Although he was forced to relinquish his unbeaten record to Coroebus at Newmarket, Native Trail will be a tough nut to crack according to Charlie Appleby as Godolphin's principal trainer goes in search of his first victory in the Irish Classic.

The Curragh has been kind to Appleby in his career. Two of the three horses he sent to the venue in 2021 were successful, including Native Trail who stormed clear to win the National Stakes. The other was the last-gasp Irish Derby winner Hurricane Lane. 

Native Trail is odds-on for a reason and Appleby knows that. Everything has gone to script since finishing second in the Guineas and it will be a major shock if he fails to make it six wins out of seven.

Appleby said: "Native Trail heads back to the Curragh in great nick. We have been delighted with the way he came out of the 2,000 Guineas and how his preparation has gone. Obviously, a repeat of his Newmarket run is going to make him the one to beat.

"There are some showers forecast but good or good to soft ground should hopefully make it a fair playing field for everyone."

Joseph O'Brien had a tricky decision to make. The Irish 2,000 Guineas or the Derby for Buckaroo? He has opted to stay on home soil for now and, while Epsom is not off the agenda just yet, this is the moment of truth for the progressive son of Fastnet Rock.

After his narrow defeat to leading Derby contender Piz Badile, now the mount of Frankie Dettori, in the Ballysax at Leopardstown over 1m2f, O'Brien thought it was worth having a crack at the Tetrarch back over a mile. How right he was.

Buckaroo outclassed his opponents there and proved a mile was no barrier to success. O'Brien does not foresee it being an issue now upped in class. 

He said: "He showed a nice turn of foot when he won the Tetrarch and I don't think he'll be stuck for pace. He seems to be in very good form at home."

The trainer, who won the Irish 2,000 Guineas three consecutive times in 2011, 2012 and 2013 on Roderic O'Connor, Power and Magician, believes Buckaroo has the ability to give hot favourite Native Trail something to think about.

He said: "No doubt Native Trail will be hard to beat but we're going there with a chance and I think we'll give him a good run for his money."

Progressive Ivy League can play a part
If you were told at the start of the season that Ivy League would be Aidan O'Brien's sole representative in the Irish 2,000 Guineas as he seeks a record-extending 12th win in the Classic, you would have been more than surprised.

Probably because he had never run at that stage, but the colt who only appeared for the first time in March has achieved an awful lot in a very short space of time and O'Brien is expecting a bold showing from the son of Galileo.

He said: "He is progressing all the time and we think he has improved again since he ran at Leopardstown. He's a nice colt who we have always liked."

What they say
Dermot Weld, trainer of Duke De Sessa
He's very well. As a two-year-old he was a good Group winner and I think he's entitled to take his chance. Hopefully he can run a good race and we'd be delighted if he could be placed.

Michael O'Callaghan, trainer of Malex
If you take the top two out of it, it looks very open for the third spot. It was only his second start last time and we had to go straight into Listed company having won on his debut, which can sometimes be a bit of a curse. It looked a steadily run race last time and he wants a strongly run mile. Since then, we've worked him in blinkers and they've sharpened him up a lot. I think they'll give him an edge to be competitive.

Curragh ground and weather
Day one of the Curragh's Irish Guineas festival got underway on Friday with conditions described as yielding, good to yielding in places on the straight course and good to yielding, yielding in places on the round.

Approximately 2.5mm of rain fell early on Friday afternoon, and there is a possibility of limited showers and sunshine over the weekend, according to Met Eireann. Fresh ground will be in play for each of the three days.