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Dubawi's main Guineas rivals ruled out

RICHARD Hannon's Dubawi Gold looks sure to start hot favourite for Saturday's Abu Dhabi Irish 2,000 Guineas after main rivals Pathfork, Dream Ahead and Zoffany were ruled out yesterday.

The 10-times raced son of Dubawi will bid to give Hannon and jockey Richard Hughes back-to-back victories in the Curragh Classic following the success of the high-class Canford Cliffs last year.

Dream Ahead and Pathfork were not among those in the 11-strong field at the five-day stage, while Aidan O'Brien's Zoffany was added to the defectors last night when it was reported he was suffering from a touch of colic.

Zoffany was one of the second-favourites in the initial markets as a winner of the Phoenix Stakes and four other races in a busy two-year-old career, but his absence leaves Dubawi Gold as the 6/4 market leader with Paddy Power.

O'Brien's wife Anne-Marie tweeted: "Zoffany had a slight colic this afternoon, he has received treatment for it and will therefore unfortunately miss this Saturday's Guineas."

Dubawi Gold, which was supplemented for the race by owner Andrew Tinkler, finished second to Frankel in the Newmarket equivalent and well ahead of O'Brien's Roderic O'Connor, now the 11/4 next best in the betting.

O'Brien can still choose from High Ruler, Master Of Hounds and Oracle as well.

David Simcock's Dream Ahead has missed potential engagements in both the French and English versions of the Classics because of the ground.

Simcock will now focus the attentions of last year's Middle Park winner on the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and a potential rematch with Frankel, which beat him in the Dewhurst last autumn.

"Dream Ahead won't be running in Ireland -- the forecast is not in his favour," the trainer revealed.

"It has been a difficult spring for us as we feel we haven't been able to do the work on grass with the horse that we would liked to have done.

"We've always genuinely felt that he is a horse that needs cut in the ground. With it having been so dry for so long, it has been frustrating. At the same time, I am delighted with his mindset and how he is physically.

"Our next option is the St James's Palace Stakes, allowing for good ground or easier. We're very much looking forward to that. The challenge of running against Frankel excites me. It is nice to have a horse who we believe is capable of taking him on.

"Having said that, I'm glad we didn't take him on in the 2,000 Guineas!"

Pathfork, which was seventh at Newmarket, also has an entry in the St James's Palace and Harrington said there was nothing amiss with him.

"He is fine, but I've been away for a week and haven't yet talked to the owners (the Silverton Hill Partnership) about making a plan for him," explained Harrington.

The English 2,000 Guineas fourth Slim Shadey and Michael Dods' Ashva are the only other possible British representatives, with Dunboyne Express, which was produced by Kevin Prendergast to win a three-runner Guineas trial at Leopardstown, another key player.

Abu Dhabi Irish 2,000 Guineas

Paddy Power bet: 6/4 Dubawi Gold, 11/4 Roderic O'Connor, 3/1 Dunboyne Express, 13/2 Zabarajad, 12/1 Master Of Hounds, 16/1 Slim Shadey, High Ruler, 20/1 Oracle, 200/1 Ashva, Foolproof.

Irish Independent