/ Racing

Magician spearheads Ballydoyle runners in Irish 2000 Guineas

Updated: Saturday, 25 May 2013 15:19 | Comments

Magician has taken a somewhat unorthodox path to the Irish 2000 Guineas, kicking off his three-year-old campaign with victory in a recognised Derby trial
Magician has taken a somewhat unorthodox path to the Irish 2000 Guineas, kicking off his three-year-old campaign with victory in a recognised Derby trial

Aidan O'Brien feels Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas favourite Magician will have no problem dropping back down to a mile for the Classic at the Curragh (3.20pm).

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He won just one of his four outings as a juvenile but looked a different proposition when storming to victory in the Dee Stakes at Chester.

While that form is hardly top-class, it made a favourable impression on many and he was even under consideration for the Investec Derby and the French equivalent.

However, O'Brien feels his pedigree suggests a mile may be his best trip.

"Magician had the three options, the Irish Guineas, the Derby and the French Derby," said the Ballydoyle maestro.

"He's a Galileo with a very fast pedigree.

"He showed he got a mile and a quarter well at Chester, whether he'd get a mile and a half I'm not absolutely sure, but Chester's a sharp, fast track and he looked like he wouldn't have a problem dropping back to a mile."

O'Brien, who has won the race eight times, most recently with Power 12 months ago, also runs Flying The Flag, who will be ridden by Colm O'Donoghue, Seamie Heffernan's mount Gale Force Ten and George Vancouver who will be partnered by Pat Smullen.

Richard Hannon ruled Olympic Glory out of the race earlier in the week but still holds a strong hand with Havana Gold, a close up fifth in the French Guineas, and Van Der Neer, third to Dawn Approach at Newmarket.

Van Der Neer is owned by Saeed Manana and his racing manager, Bruce Raymond, said: "Immediately after the Guineas, there was a temptation to step him up to 10 furlongs as he finished very strongly.

"We were thinking Dante originally, but if you win a Dante you would feel obliged to run in the Derby and being by Dutch Art, a mile and a half would maybe be too far for him at this stage.

"So, his owner said with this race coming up, he'd rather run in another Classic and step him up in trip after this.

"We've always thought a lot of him and William Buick loved the horse at Newmarket.

"He's going there as second favourite and he's got a very good winning chance.

"I know he's won on soft at Leicester but Richard Hughes felt that was the reason he got beaten in the Racing Post Trophy and he showed at Newmarket that fast ground is fine for him so that won't be an issue here."

Hannon's son and assistant Richard jnr also feels Van Der Neer will run a big race while not discounting Havana Gold.

"Van Der Neer's third in the Guineas was an extremely good run. We'll ride him a little bit handier than at Newmarket. He needs at least a mile, if not 10 furlongs, and he'll run very well," he told At The Races.

"If he steps up on the form from the Guineas, he'll take a lot of beating.

"Havana Gold used a lot of energy to get where he did in France. Jamie (Spencer) had no choice and gave him a super ride, he just got tired going to the line and was beaten about two lengths.

"He's capable of winning a Guineas."

Johnny Murtagh sorted his trainers licence out just in time for this weekend and he is hoping for a dream start with Fort Knox, who was bought by Sheikh Mohammed after winning a trial for this race.

Murtagh also runs the Andrew Tinkler-owned Ask Dad, who was supplemented.

"Fort Knox is in very good form, he was impressive at Leopardstown and since then we've had a clear run," said Murtagh.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing him on better ground because he's not big and he's got a good turn of foot so while you can't be sure, I'd say better ground would be to his advantage.

"He's a hold-up horse, he likes following them and using his acceleration at the end.

"The Sheikh Mohammed team bought him after Leopardstown and have been out to see him on the gallops. It's great they left him with us.

"Andrew (Tinkler) was keen for Ask Dad to run. We thought he'd run better at Naas last week but it was his first run for a while. Andrew has had Dubawi Gold and Foxtrot Romeo placed in the race recently.

"He's not a pacemaker, he has to step up but we think he will."

Andy Oliver's First Cornerstone has had a couple of little setbacks which have delayed his reappearance until now.

First Cornerstone was fourth in the Racing Post Trophy last season after winning the Futurity Stakes.

"We took him out of the Derrinstown (Derby Trial Stakes on 12 May) due to a bad scope but that looks to have cleared up now," said Oliver.

"Obviously I had hoped to get a run into him and it's not ideal for him to be having his first start of the season, but those are the circumstances we find ourselves in and I'm hoping for a good run."

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