Saturday’s Irish 2000 Guineas promises to be one for the ages as The Curragh sees a return of the Irish Classics, writes Tom Masters.
Eleven will battle it out for one of the sport’s most coveted prizes, before the Guineas festival continues on Sunday with the Irish 1000 Guineas, as well as the Tattersalls Gold Cup.
Last year Charlie Appleby and William Buick combined for their first ever Irish 2000 Guineas on Native Trail to continue the theme of a new winning trainer and jockey taking the crown.
That now dates back to Aidan O’Brien’s last victory in 2017, where Ryan Moore led Churchill to victory.
Looking to maintain that trend are Paul and Oliver Cole and Jamie Spencer, whose charge Royal Scotsman is currently the bookies’ favourite.
Here’s a look at all the runners and riders in one of the most hotly anticipated races of the year.
1 Age of Kings – J: Seamie Hefferman, T: Aidan O’Brien (25/1)
The least fancied of O’Brien’s three entries of the race and has won only once in five entries, which came at this venue almost exactly a year ago.
Struggled at Ascot in the Coventry Stakes and could only finish fourth of six in the Group 2 GAIN Railway Stakes.
Placed at Leopardstown last time out but in Group 3 company. Never raced at Group 1 level or made the trip up to a mile before.
2 Alexander John – J: Nathan Crosse, T: Luke Comer (400/1)
Luke Comer’s sole entry is not fancied by the bookies after his two rides in 2023 have seen him finish 12th and seventh respectively.
Another who has not raced at this distance or this level before and would be a huge shock.
3 Bold Discovery – J: Billy Lee, T: Jessica Harrington (40/1)
Initially showed promise at Group 3 level with third and second placed finishes at The Curragh but finished fifth of six when making the trip up to a mile for the first time, struggling in the final three furlongs.
Stamina appears an issue but may just be able to keep himself in the mix for long enough to throw a cat amongst the pigeons.
4 Cairo – J: Wayne Lordan, T: Aidan O’Brien (12/1)
Aidan O’Brien’s second contender and the first of the big hitters in the race.
A winner at this distance in two listed races but struggled in Meydan, finishing 10th when favourite in March in the UAE Derby.
Ryan Moore opted for Paddington following that race, with Wayne Lordan back in the saddle.
5 Charyn – J: David Egan, T: Roger Varian (20/1)
A lucrative Group 2 win at Chantilly at the end of last season was backed up by a positive second place finish at Newbury in April.
Made the trip up to a mile for the first time at Newmarket in the English 2000 Guineas and finished eighth when 66/1.
6 Galeron – J: Colin Keane, T: Charles Hills (12/1)
Has an impressive CV already, most notably winning the Goffs Million in September at The Curragh.
Finished third at Newcastle at the one-mile mark, before a fourth-place finish in the English 2,000 Guineas at 150/1 showed he has potential to be the real deal. One to look out for.
7 Hi Royal – J: Oisin Murphy, T: Kevin Ryan (9/2)
Seems to enjoy the distance having won at Ayr last season before a formidable second place finish at Newmarket in the English 2,000 Guineas earlier this month when 125/1 slashed his odds.
Backed as the second favourite and if his previous races are anything to go by, he will be right among the frontrunners come the finish line.
8 Paddington – J: Ryan Moore, T: Aidan O’Brien (5/1)
His first race only came in September, finishing fifth at Ascot, but three consecutive wins have elevated him to a race as prestigious as this in quick time.
Seemed to enjoy his step up to a mile earlier this month and was chosen by Ryan Moore as the pick of the Aidan O’Brien trio which says a lot.
9 Proud and Regal – J: Gavin Ryan, T: Donnacha O’Brien (13/2)
Wins in his first two races at the Curragh and Leopardstown seemed to suggest there was potential and that was confirmed when winning the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud.
That was his first race at the mile mark but in the recent Derby Trial Stakes, he finished third. Will surely be in the mix.
10 Quar Shamar – J: Shane Foley, T: Jessica Harrington (25/1)
Jessica Harrington’s second runner is a bit more of an unknown quantity, having started out in September and raced just twice.
Finished 11th at The Curragh at seven furlongs, before a comfortable win at Dundalk at the one-mile mark suggests he may prefer the distance.
11 Royal Scotsman – J: Jamie Spencer, T: Paul & Oliver Cole (9/4)
Two wins at Goodwood and a third-place finish in the Coventry Stakes made him one to look out for before ending the season with a second-place finish when beaten by a head by Chaldean in October.
Backed that up when finishing third in the English 2000 Guineas, finishing behind Chaldean again and half a length behind Hi Royal. Definitely a key player in this one.