| 21.2°C Dublin

O'Brien's curveball an illusion as Magician grabs Guineas prize

Close

Just The Judge under jockey Jamie Spencer (centre) wins the Eithad Airways Irish 1000 Guineas during Etihad Airways Irish 1000 Guineas/Tattersalls Gold Cup Day at Curragh Racecourse, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 26, 2013. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire.

Just The Judge under jockey Jamie Spencer (centre) wins the Eithad Airways Irish 1000 Guineas during Etihad Airways Irish 1000 Guineas/Tattersalls Gold Cup Day at Curragh Racecourse, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 26, 2013. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire.

PA

Just The Judge under jockey Jamie Spencer (centre) wins the Eithad Airways Irish 1000 Guineas during Etihad Airways Irish 1000 Guineas/Tattersalls Gold Cup Day at Curragh Racecourse, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 26, 2013. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire.

Magician's superlative Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas triumph at the Curragh on Saturday catapulted him into a realm of potential acclaim that few envisaged beforehand.

Ballydoyle's clean sweep of the major Derby trials told us that the elite Rosegreen stable would have a major impact on how the season would unfold for the Classic generation.

Of them all, Magician's smooth Dee Stakes victory was the most visually impressive, for all that he didn't beat much – Contributor, the runner-up, was held in Listed company on Friday.

However, Aidan O'Brien, apparently at the behest of the Coolmore powerbrokers, threw a bit of a curveball by switching the Galileo colt down in trip rather than up.

In doing so, he put many – including this correspondent – off Magician on the basis that it was unprecedented for a horse to drop back from a mile-and-a-quarter to win a Guineas over a mile.

In truth, we should have listened when the money began to talk early last week, as Magician steadily tumbled from a high of 14/1 to be the 9/4 market leader on Friday after it emerged that his stablemate Cristoforo Colombo would not be in attendance.

In light of the gamble and the utterly superior rout by the eventual winner, the suspicion is that the chief reason for Cristoforo Colombo's absence was that it became glaringly obvious in their respective homework that Magician would wipe the Curragh floor with him.

With the money already down, the chosen one returned at a slightly bigger 10/3, after readily quickening clear off the breakneck pace that was set by Trading Leather.

Gale Force Ten, the horse that many felt Joseph O'Brien might have been better off on after his fine fourth in the French equivalent, kept on for an honest second to give the form a relatively solid look.

A third win in the race for the 20-year-old champion jockey, it was an incredible ninth success in the €300,000 Group One for his father, whose haul of Irish Classics now clocks in at 29.

MONOPOLY

The result means another year will pass since 1986 when an Irish stable other than Ballydoyle last won the race (Flash Of Steel for Dermot Weld), something that does little to counter the broader impression of Irish Flat racing constituting a veritable monopoly.

Anyway, that's as it is, and it's not likely to change any time soon, though a six per cent drop in attendance suggests that such unimpeded domination fails to capture the public imagination.

In the final analysis, Magician appeals as an above-average winner of an average renewal.

He not only overcame the drop in trip, he excelled over it, walking the walk that the Coolmore PR machine is forever talking about in relation to its middle-distance stars.

No one needed to tell us that he would have "the speed" to do what he did, because he did that all by himself. Actions inevitably speak louder than commercially-driven words, and Magician certainly made himself heard with this resoundingly polished performance.

O'Brien said yesterday that he would be left in Saturday's Epsom Derby, and it seems there is a very real possibility that he will yet form part of the Tipperary legion charged with bringing down Dawn Approach.

With just a week to recover – New Approach had a fortnight between his Curragh second and Derby glory in 2008 – it would be an enormous ask.

Still, for all that there might be a temptation to conclude that such a move would represent a vote of no-confidence in Battle Of Marengo et al, Magician appeals as a far more exciting proposition than either of his gifted rider's previous two winners of the Curragh showpiece.

For both Roderic O'Connor (2011) and Power (2012), the Irish 2,000 Guineas represented a definitive pinnacle. Magician has the capacity to conjure something far more enduring.

SHANAHAN AND GRIFFIN ON THE MARK IN BRITAIN

In Saturday's Temple Stakes at Haydock, Eddie Lynam's Sole Power could manage only fourth behind fellow previous winner Kingsgate Native when sent off favourite.

However, it was far from a fruitless day for the raiders, as Pat Shanahan and Tadhg O'Shea combined for a late double at Chester courtesy of Bethany Bay and Ralston Road. Both three-year-olds represented the Scot Jimmy Long, who employs Shanahan at his expanding Co Kilkenny-based Thistle Bloodstock stable.

Bethany Boy overcame a wide draw to gain an early lead en route to justifying odds of 5/2 in determined fashion in the six-furlong maiden, before Ralston Road (3/1) added to his recent Leopardstown maiden win by defying top-weight in the extended 11-furlong handicap to score in similar fashion.

The brace represented Shanahan's first winners as a trainer in Britain, and they were O'Shea's first there since he ended a six-year cross-channel stint to accept the job of first jockey for the emerging Danesfort outfit.

Oldtown handler Pat Griffin also got among the winners when Lisbon justified 5/2 favouritism under five-pound claimer Derek Fox in the maiden hurdle at Cartmel.

SIMILAR THEMES ON GUINEAS WEEKEND

Mick Halford and Shane Foley enjoyed a big-priced double at the Curragh yesterday, and Glassatura got the partnership's weekend under way with a 33/1 debut coup in the juvenile maiden on Saturday.

The Verglas filly quickened impressively to deny the Ballydoyle odds-on shot Bye Bye Birdie in the six-furlong contest.

Aidan and Joseph O'Brien nonetheless went on to precede yesterday's double with a Saturday brace that was completed by Magician, after Coach House (4/6) set up a likely Royal Ascot venture with a ready win in the Marble Hills Stakes.

And as would happen again 24 hours later, the English raiders also departed with two winners.

Hitchins (13/2 from 10/1) replicated his 2011 Greenlands Stakes triumph to send the six-furlong Group Three across the water for a fifth year in a row with a characteristically game neck verdict under Johnny Murtagh, while Henry Cecil and Tom Queally combined to take the Group Three Abu Dhabi Stakes in style with the 11/18 favourite Chigun.

SESKINANE CONNECTIONS TO APPEAL DECISION

Conditional jockey Derek Fox and the connections of Seskinane, controversially disqualified after running out an eight-and-a-half-length winner at Sligo last week, are to appeal the race-day stewards' decision.

After causing interference when squeezing between Willie Mullins' pair On His Own and Twigline turning in, Fox admitted to the regulators that he had ridden dangerously, a finding that automatically prompts disqualification.

Numbers game

2 Cheltenham Gold Cups won by former Phoenix Park and Curragh handler Noel Chance, who is to retire at the age of 61. Chance, Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson are the only current trainers to have won jump racing's marquee event more than once, the Lambourn-based man the first of the trio do so with Mr Mulligan (1997) and Looks Like Trouble (2000).

Tweet of the week

@karenmoomorgan

Go on Flora

– Gordon Elliott's travelling head girl Karen Morgan keeps it short and sweet as she acknowledges the feat of Elliott and his fiancee Annie Flora Bowles to win two point-to-points in two days with Nedzer's Return.

Elliott trains the 11-year-old, which Bowles rode to win Opens at Tattersalls on Saturday and Inchydoney in Clonakilty yesterday.

Irish Independent