It was hard not to be a shade underwhelmed as the Qipco 2,000 Guineas approached at Newmarket.
There were a waft of absentees, headlined by last season’s champion two-year-old Too Darn Hot. John Gosden’s Dewhurst winner missed out as Aidan O’Brien scored yet more Classic success on the Rowley Mile with Magna Grecia.
While we are accustomed to the Ballydoyle maestro crossing the Irish Sea to take on Britain’s best, it is much less the case that the raiders arrive in Ireland to take O’Brien on in his homeland.
This weekend’s Irish 2,000 Guineas promises to buck that trend, as things stand.
Too Darn Hot to win at 6/4
Saturday’s Tattersalls 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh has now got the anticipation at fever pitch after Gosden confirmed his star is a likely runner. Too Darn Hot’s belated reappearance came last week in the Dante at York, where he was a gallant second to Telecaster over 1m2f.
His stamina was clearly stretched on the Knavesmire, even allowing for some rustiness on his seasonal bow and the intention post-race was to drop back to a mile for Royal Ascot next month. The colt has come out of the race well and now his trainer is eager to go after Classic glory in Ireland.
Magna Grecia to win at 1/1
Of course, Too Darn Hot’s readiness or otherwise for a quick Group 1 turnaround doesn’t cloud the fact that turning over O’Brien on his home turf will be a major challenge.
He boasts a superb record in the Irish 2,000 Guineas having won it 11 times since 1997 and Magna Grecia looks almost certain to be suited by the stiff mile offered at Ireland’s premier Flat track.
He’s got very strong claims, though he did seemingly have the best of the draw at Newmarket in the Guineas last time. His supporters may think about getting in early, in case Gosden decides not to come to the party with Too Darn Hot.
Skardu each-way @ 13/2
As he was last time at Newmarket, the William Haggas-trained Skardu can be the value call for those wanting to get away from the short-priced pair.
The Craven winner wasn’t drawn well in the 2,000 Guineas and suffered as a result. Skardu did, however, lead home the main group (away from the winner) and finished a creditable third behind Magna Grecia in the circumstances.
With a more even hand from which to play his cards in Ireland, Skardu could have a big say in the first Classic of the new season at the Curragh.
For all new customers, ComeOn are currently offering a £10 free bet – make sure you sign up!