Aidan O’Brien trained both market leaders in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday but it was the longer priced of the pair, Magna Grecia, who came home a convincing winner of the season’s first classic.
Magna Grecia, a Group 1 winner at two when he won the Vertem Futurity at Doncaster, was making his seasonal debut but there were no signs that he was ring-rusty as he jumped out and tracked over to the stands side right from the off. “I’m delighted with Magna Grecia – he’s a lovely horse, he’s developed well over the winter and matured great,” said O’Brien.
He was one of only three horses to race on the stands side of the track and the prominent finishing position of the runner-up, 66/1 shot King Of Change, who also raced on that side, will have some doubting the form.
But O’Brien, winning the race for the third time in a row and the tenth time overall, said the colt had been working well at home. He added that the jockey bookings (main stable jockey Ryan Moore was on Ten Sovereigns) were simply down to the fact that winning jockey, Aidan’s son Donnacha, rides Magna Grecia in all his home work.
As they hit the two furlong pole the pacesetter, Shine So Bright, started to come under pressure as Magna Grecia pressed on his outside. The pair raced together briefly but as the race wore on Magna Grecia, already proven over the trip, forged clear. King Of Change kept on well to take second without ever looking likely to challenge the winner while best of those racing on the far side of the track was Craven Stakes winner Skardu, who finished third. The winning margin was two and a half lengths.
Immediately after the race Aidan O’Brien was asked about Derby plans for the colt, who had quickly been installed 3/1 favourite for that race as they crossed the line here. But punters quickly held onto their bets as O’Brien stated “I’d imagine he’d go back to the Curragh then to Ascot”, mentioning that Coolmore supremo John Magnier had envisaged the colt as a miler through the winter.
O’Brien has not only cemented his position as the winning-most trainer in 2,000 Guineas history, he is also the first to saddle three consecutive winners since James Edwards completed that feat in 1836 (Edwards made it four a year later).
It was also a second consecutive win in the race for winning jockey Donnacha O’Brien, who won on Saxon Warrior last year and who has been fighting an increasingly one-sided battle against the scales. Aidan O’Brien paid testament to his son’s determination to have at least one more season in the saddle, “It’s not been easy for him,” he said of his son’s weight problems.
Ten Sovereigns, who led the far side group a furlong out, faded in the final furlong and O’Brien indicated that a drop in trip was now likely for his Middle Park Stakes winner.