Rosallion Wins Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh

May 25, 2024

Seán Levey and Rosallion return to the winner’s circle after Saturday’s Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas. (Breandán Ó hUallacháin photo)

By Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Runner-up in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket at the beginning of the month, the Seán Levey-ridden Rosallion left his challenge until the dying strides of the one-mile contest, before nabbing his stable companion Haatem on the line in Saturday’s Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh, County Kildare.

Both the winner and runner-up are trained by Richard Hannon Jnr in England, for whom it was a first victory in the colts’ classic in Ireland. It was also a maiden success in the Group 1 contest for Swaziland-born Seán Levey, who previously spent time with Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle. 

Only a head separated the Hannon-trained pair at the wire, as the son of Kildangan Stud stallion Blue Point stayed on well in the dying strides to deny Newmarket 2000 Guineas third-placer Haatem, under jockey Jamie Spencer.

Haatem had lead the field two furlongs from the finishing line and was ridden clear by Spencer, but despite the best efforts of the son of Irish National Stud stallion, Phoenix of Spain, a former winner of this contest, he could not hold off the race favourite at the death.

Sean Levey - winning rider in the 20 24 Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas. Breandán Ó hUallacháin photo)
Sean Levey – winning rider in the 20 24 Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas. Breandán Ó hUallacháin photo)

Seán Levey, for whom it was a first Group 1 success in Ireland, said:

“I was confident I was going to get him (Haatem), especially that last bit where he is climbing all the time. I had my first ride here on South Wind Rising (on 17 April 2005) and it is nice to come back with a favourite’s chance and deliver.”

Speaking to Racing TV, Levey elaborated on today’s success:

“The track has always been good to me, and I’ve had some good winners here. It’s nice to come back over with a chance and have it pay off. I was always happy to give away ground (today) on him especially if he was doing the right things initially. He can get racy and competitive when a horse gets upside him, so I was never going to be able to sit on the wing.”

The winning handler, Richard Hannon, gave his reaction to media post-race, stating:

“He [Rosallion] took a bit of time to pick them up. He’s such a hyped horse and he’s not going to please everybody. He proved he got the trip today and that was the pleasing thing. We’ll go to the St James’s Palace Stakes (at Royal Ascot).

“He won a Group 1 as a two-year-old and he’s always been a little bit special. We built him up quite a lot and it’s lovely to see him win a classic. I thought he ran a super race the last time [at Newmarket] and he’s improved for that, and I thought both horses ran the races of their lives.”

Rosallion and happy connections in the winner's circle at The Curragh. (Breandán Ó hUallacháin photo)
Rosallion and happy connections in the winner’s circle at The Curragh. (Breandán Ó hUallacháin photo)

Commenting on his brave runner-up, Hannon admitted:

“I love Haatem – he’s such a gentleman. He’s a pleasure to have around and his day will come. I think Haatem could get a mile and quarter. I felt so sorry for him – he gets your heart strings. There are a lot of good races in him. You can ride him anywhere you want. I’d love to travel a bit with him.”

Two Aidan O’Brien runners, River Tiber and Unquestionable, filled the third and fourth places in the eight-runner contest. Though River Tiber and jockey Ryan Moore were second just ouside the furlong marker, the son of Coolmore Stud stallion Wootton Bassett stayed on one-paced in what was his first race since September 30th last year, and was one and a quarter lengths behind the runner-up.

Unquestionable, another son of Wootton Bassett, finished in fourth position, another four and three-quarter lengths behind his stable companion. 

Contributing Authors

Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Breandán Ó hUallacháin writes about Irish, British, French and Australian horseracing, both National Hunt and Flat. He has an interest in the history of racing...

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