Thursday 24 October 2019

Magna Grecia heads O'Brien's bid

Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore team up with Ten Sovereigns in the 2,000 Guineas. Photo: Sportsfile
Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore team up with Ten Sovereigns in the 2,000 Guineas. Photo: Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Ballydoyle supremo Aidan O'Brien is double-handed as he endeavours to take his record haul to 10 in the 2,000 Guineas at ­Newmarket tomorrow after a field of 19 was declared for the colts' Classic.

O'Brien's first on the roll of honour was King Of Kings in 1998 and the Ballydoyle maestro made it nine with Saxon Warrior last year.

The two horses bidding for glory this time are Vertem Futurity Trophy scorer Magna Grecia, with his son Donnacha up, and Ten ­Sovereigns, ridden by Ryan Moore, the unbeaten winner of the Middle Park Stakes.

Madhmoon, trained by Kevin Prendergast, is the other Irish challenger. The son of Dawn Approach looked every inch a top-class prospect when making a winning debut at Leopardstown last summer and was just as impressive when stepped up to Group Two level on Irish Champions Weekend.

Following some bullish reports, it was admittedly a shade disappointing to see him beaten on his seasonal reappearance in the 2,000 Guineas Trial last month, but there were mitigating factors, namely the prevailing testing conditions.

The veteran Curragh handler is adamant his latest stable star will improve, with fast ground forecast.

Leading the home defence are the William Haggas-trained Craven Stakes victor Skardu, and Martyn Meade's Phoenix Stakes winner Advertise, the mount of Frankie Dettori.

There are three Godolphin-owned contenders in Mark Johnston's Dark Vision, Saeed bin Suroor's Royal Marine and Charlie Appleby's Al Hilalee. The latter has been off the track since winning a Listed prize at Deauville in August and was supplemented at a cost of £30,000.

Meanwhile, classic clues will be on offer at Chester on Wednesday after 18 entries were received for the MBNA Chester Vase Stakes. O'Brien, who is a big fan of sending his Derby and Oaks prospects to the Roodee, has seven possibles.

They include Japan, one of the ante-post favourites for the Investec Derby next month having won the Beresford Stakes last season.

Anthony Van Dyck, placed in the National Stakes and the Dewhurst at two, Norway - who won the Zetland Stakes - Royal Lodge victor Mohawk and the once-raced Sir Dragonet are in the mix, too.

Meade's Technician, slightly unfortunate behind Bangkok at Sandown last week, and Royal Ascot winner Arthur Kitt could also turn up.

Mark Johnston has entered Living Legend, Themaxwecan and West End Charmer.

Charlie Fellowes' King Ottokar, impressive at Newbury on his return when beating Dashing Willoughby, could meet Andrew Balding's colt once again.

There are also 18 entries in the Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks - with O'Brien responsible for four, including Happen, who chased home Lady Kaya in a trial for the Irish 1,000 Guineas. Ralph Beckett's Manuela De Vega stands out on juvenile form - having won both her starts, including in Listed company.

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