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Rule out O'Brien's band of outsiders at your expense

NOT only is Aidan O'Brien set to pose a strong challenge at Newmarket's Guineas meeting over the weekend, but the Ballydoyle maestro will also be bidding to conquer America tomorrow with one runner in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Joseph O'Brien will ride the apparent first string of the Ballydoyle trio in the 2000 Guineas tomorrow afternoon, as he partners Cristoforo Colombo – and after a previous meeting with Dawn Approach, that horse has a length to find.

Seamie Heffernan's mount Mars is undoubtedly the unknown quantity of the field as he is the only horse to have run just once and that being when he lived up to a lot of hype and landed a Dundalk maiden back in July.

Seeing how Mars fares is one of many intriguing elements to tomorrow's race, along with whether Cristoforo Colombo or George Vancouver can step up on last season's displays.

If any trainer is capable of finding such improvement, it is undoubtedly O'Brien, a former apprentice of Jim Bolger, who tomorrow will look for a seventh English 2000 Guineas.

Another that will have to find improvement to win is the Kentucky Derby raider Lines Of Battle, but again it would be little surprise if just before midnight tomorrow he wins one of the most famous races in the world.



Ryan Moore is bypassing Guineas day at Newmarket in favour of heading stateside and renewing his partnership with the UAE Derby winner from March.

Indeed, since winning a listed race in Dundalk last October, Lines Of Battle has been to the Breeders' Cup where he finished behind stable companion and tomorrow's Guineas hopeful George Vancouver in the Juvenile, and then to Meydan for Dubai World Cup night where he was triumphant.

Considering the quarters from which Lines Of Battle emerges, he warrants plenty of respect wherever he goes and the latest stop on a mini world tour happens to be Kentucky and you rule him out at your peril.

O'Brien's three runners in tomorrow's Quipco 2000 Guineas are 8/1, 10/1 and 14/1, while in Sunday's fillies version Moth is fourth best in the betting at 7/1, with Snow Queen also at fancy odds, and in the Kentucky Derby Lines Of Battle is 14/1.

Those odds suggest that it could be a quiet enough weekend in the big races for O'Brien, but experience suggests that it would be a surprise if we are not reporting his success in one of the three.