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Richard Hannon holds strong Irish 2,000 Guineas hand

Britain has won the Irish 2,000 Guineas three times in the last decade and Richard Hannon supplies the leading challengers this year as he sends two talented colts to the first Irish Classic of the season.

Hannon, a dual Classic-winning trainer, landed the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in 2014 with Night Of Thunder and his father, and namesake, saddled the winner of the Irish equivalent on three occasions, the most recent being Canford Cliffs in 2010.

Rosallion is likely to be a warm order after his excellent seasonal reappearance in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket when beaten a length and a half into second by Notable Speech. 

He announced himself as an exciting prospect when landing the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot in July and made his Group 1 breakthrough at Longchamp two starts later. Based on his Newmarket effort, he has all the qualities to be a star three-year-old and looks the one they all have to beat under Sean Levey.

Hannon said: "Everything has gone well since Newmarket and this race has been the plan ever since. He did his last gallop [with Haatem] on Sunday and worked exceptionally well, like he always does. He’ll love the good to firm ground and I think this track may suit him even better than the Rowley Mile."

Haatem enjoyed a promising two-year-old campaign last season with his standout run coming at Goodwood in August when running out a convincing winner of the Group 2 Vintage Stakes, but he seems to have taken a significant step forward this season in two starts.

He ran out an excellent winner of the Craven Stakes on his seasonal debut and followed that up with a third-placed finish in the 2,000 Guineas, a length and three-quarters behind stablemate Rosallion.

The step up to a mile this season has really brought out the best in him and jockey Jamie Spencer is well accustomed to big rides in Irish Classics, including when winning this race in 2019 on board Phoenix Of Spain, the sire of Haatem.

Hannon said: "There is nothing not to like about Haatem; he wears his heart on his sleeve and has such a lovely attitude. We always thought he’d stay a mile and he proved that in the Craven and Guineas. He’s much more versatile ground-wise and comes here with a rock-solid chance."

River Tiber 'the most forward' of O'Brien team

Last season's Coventry Stakes winner River Tiber headlines a three-pronged Ballydoyle assault as Aidan O'Brien goes in search of his 13th victory in the race.

All of O'Brien's runners will be having their first outing of the season and River Tiber will step up to a mile for the first time having never raced beyond six furlongs in five starts last season. 

The Wootton Bassett colt is the pick of Ryan Moore who is going for his fourth win in the race, having won on Gleneagles (2015), Churchill (2017) and Paddington (2023).

O'Brien said: "River Tiber is in good form and everything has gone well over the winter and spring. He was at Navan a few weeks ago. We're looking forward to getting him started. We always thought there was a good chance he'd stay a mile and we'll learn a lot about him. He seems the most forward out of our three."

Wayne Lordan takes the mount on Unquestionable, who was last seen running out a decisive winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita. He renews rivalry with stablemate Mountain Bear, who was a length and a half behind in second on that occasion. Declan McDonogh takes the ride.

O'Brien added: "Unquestionable has won over a mile but he had a bit of setback so he'll improve for the run. Mountain Bear is just ready to start. We want to go to Ascot with him and there wasn't many places we could start him. He'll improve plenty for the race."

What they say

Joseph O'Brien, trainer of Atlantic Coast
He had a disappointing first run of the year, but he's trained well since that run at Leopardstown. It's a hot race, but we're happy with his draw.

Andy Oliver, trainer of Bright Stripes
He's in good form and he's been straightforward since the Tetrarch. It was a good performance and after his initial run at Leopardstown in very heavy ground, we were worried about the soft ground but we were very pleased with him. He's a very nice moving horse and we always presumed he wanted better ground but he's never really got it. This race was the plan since the Killavullan last season.

Jack Davison, trainer of Take Me To Church
I couldn't be any happier with him and he's been trained for this since Leopardstown. I think he'll run well and he's ground versatile. We're stepping up to a mile and on his win in the Madrid, he still would have won if it was another furlong so we're hopeful he'll get it. It's our first runner in a Classic so it's huge for us.

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