The first Classic race of the British flat season, which will be staged on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course, will see the Irish handler bid for an incredible 10th QIPCO 2000 Guineas success.
The Ballydoyle team is headed by Europe’s top-rated juvenile of last season on 118, St Mark’s Basilica, a winner of the Group One Darley Dewhurst Stakes over the same course last season, when he defeated his stablemate Wembley by less than a length. The latter, rated 118, is also among the 2000 Guineas entries, meaning the Coolmore-owned pair are likely to clash again in May.
Battleground, by War Front and the first foal from former top-class mare Found, is also towards the top of the betting market for the 213th Newmarket 2000 Guineas. An impressive winner of both the Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot the Group Two Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last season, he missed the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at The Curragh, Ireland, in September, before finishing second in the Grade One Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland.
County Tipperary-based Aidan O’Brien also has the unbeaten Epsom Derby favourite High Definition (rated 115) and the Barronstown Stud-bred son of American Pharoah, Van Gogh (rated 114) entered in the race. The former is a son of Galileo, bred by O’Brien’s Whisperview Trading, while the latter won the Group 1 Critérium International at Saint-Cloud, France, at the end of his juvenile campaign.
O’Brien’s team, all owned by Coolmore partnerships, is completed by Admiral Nelson, Duke of Mantua, HMS Seahorse, Merchants Quay, Military Style, Roman Empire and Sandhurst.
Former Breeders’ Cup-winning rider, now trainer, Joseph O’Brien is responsible for four nominations: Isle of Sark, Snapraeterea, State Of Rest and Thunder Moon. The latter, winner of the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at The Curragh in September, is the son of Coolmore stallion Zoffany and was also bred by Aidan O’Brien’s Whisperview Trading. Subsequent to his Group 1 victory in Ireland, the 117-rated colt finished two-and-a-half lengths behind St Mark’s Basilica in the seven-furlong Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in his final race of last season.
Speaking this week about his main QIPCO 2000 Guineas contender, the 28-year-old Joseph O’Brien said:
“Thunder Moon has wintered well and we are pleased with where we are. There is plenty of water still to go under the bridge yet but it is exciting to have a live contender for the 2000 Guineas. He is obviously a pretty quick horse on what he has done so far but he shapes as though a mile will be within compass so I don’t see the trip being a problem.”
Dual jumps and flat trainer Jessica Harrington has the third favourite in the current betting market in Cadillac. The Lope De Vega 114-rated colt won the Group 2 KPMG Juvenile Stakes (Breeders’ Cup Challenge Race) at Leopardstown on Longines Irish Champions Weekend on 12 September 2020. He was subsequently four-and-a-half lengths behind St Mark’s Basilica at Newmarket before being beaten three-and-three-quarter lengths by Fire At Will in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland last November.
An interesting entry is the Jim Bolger trained MacSwiney. The New Approach colt out of Halla na Saoirse (both horses were bred, owned and trained by Bolger), named after the former Lord Mayor of Cork in Ireland, won the Vertem Futurity Trophy on Doncaster in October 2020. The Group 1 victory was a day before the centenary anniversary of the Irish patriot’s death on hunger strike in London’s Brixton Prison on 25 October 1920. MacSwiney, rated 116 at the end of his juvenile season, holds a good form line with many of the O’Brien-trained horses.
In winning his maiden at The Curragh last year, he defeated subsequent Dewhurst Stakes runner-up Wembley by one-and-a-half lengths, with HMS Seahorse back in fourth. MacSwiney was beaten five-and-a-quarter lengths by Bolger’s training protégé Aidan O’Brien’s Military Style in the Group 3 Japan Racing Association Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown in early August, with Van Gogh second and Joseph O’Brien’s State of Rest back in fifth position.
Bolger’s MacSwiney then defeated Jessica Harrington’s 114-rated Cadillac by half a length in the Group 2 Galileo EBF Futurity Stakes at The Curragh a fortnight later. Joseph O’Brien’s Snapraetera and his father’s Van Gogh were fourth and sixth respectively in that race.
MacSwiney ran a below par race in finishing a disappointing eight in the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, a race in which many of the current QIPCO 2000 Guineas entries competed. The previously mentioned Thunder Moon took the victory, followed home by Wembley and St Mark’s Basilica, while Lucky Vega (holding an entry at Newmarket for Jessica Harrington) was fifth with Military Style back in ninth.
QIPCO 2000 Guineas (Group 1) at Newmarket, England, on 1 May 2021
A Case of You (IRE) 3 9 0 Gary Devlin Adrian McGuinness
Admiral Nelson (GB) 3 9 0 Mr M. Tabor, D. Smith & Mrs John Magnier Aidan O’Brien
Akmaam (FR) 3 9 0 Mr Hamdan Al Maktoum Brian Meehan
Albadri (IRE) 3 9 0 Alsharq racing Jane Chapple-Hyam
Albasheer (IRE) 3 9 0 Mr Hamdan Al Maktoum Owen Burrows
Ataser (GB) 3 9 0 Guaymas T. J. Kent
Baradar (IRE) 3 9 0 Amo Racing Limited Roger Varian
Battleground (USA) 3 9 0 Mr M. Tabor, D. Smith & Mrs John Magnier Aidan O’Brien
Belloccio (FR) 3 9 0 All for One Racing David Menuisier
Cadillac (IRE) 3 9 0 Alpha Racing 2020 Mrs J. Harrington
Chez Pierre (FR) 3 9 0 Mr R. Jackson Francis-Henri Graffard
Chindit (IRE) 3 9 0 Mr Michael Pescod Richard Hannon
Devilwala (IRE) 3 9 0 Amo Racing Limited & Arjun Waney Ralph Beckett
Duke of Mantua (IRE) 3 9 0 Mrs John Magnier,Mr M.Tabor & Mr D.Smith Aidan O’Brien
El Drama (IRE) 3 9 0 Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum Roger Varian
Encounter Order (IRE) 3 9 0 Mr Abdulla Al Mansoori Ismail Mohammed
Etonian (IRE) 3 9 0 Mrs J. Wood Richard Hannon
Existent (GB) 3 9 0 Cheveley Park Stud John Gosden
Fancy Man (IRE) 3 9 0 Mr Michael Pescod Richard Hannon
Fundamental (GB) 3 9 0 Cheveley Park Stud John Gosden
Guru (GB) 3 9 0 Lady Bamford John Gosden
High Definition (IRE) 3 9 0 D Smith/Mrs.J Magnier/M Tabor/Westerberg Aidan O’Brien
Highland Avenue (IRE) 3 9 0 Godolphin Charlie Appleby
Hms Seahorse (IRE) 3 9 0 Mr M. Tabor, D. Smith & Mrs John Magnier Aidan O’Brien
Ilza’eem (FR) 3 9 0 KHK Racing Ltd & Shaikh Duaij Al Khalifa Simon & Ed Crisford
Insomnia (GB) 3 9 0 REBEL RACING PREMIER III Richard Spencer
Isle of Sark (USA) 3 9 0 Teme Valley Joseph Patrick O’Brien
Jadoomi (FR) 3 9 0 Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum Simon & Ed Crisford
King Vega (GB) 3 9 0 Apollo Racing & DTA Racing Andrew Balding
King Zain (IRE) 3 9 0 Mr Jaber Abdullah Mark Johnston
Laneqash (GB) 3 9 0 Mr Hamdan Al Maktoum Roger Varian
Latest Generation (GB) 3 9 0 Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum Simon & Ed Crisford
Legion of Honour (GB) 3 9 0 Teme Valley 2 Roger Varian
Lucky Vega (IRE) 3 9 0 Zhang Yuesheng Mrs J. Harrington
Mac Swiney (IRE) 3 9 0 Mrs J. S. Bolger J. S. Bolger
Master of The Seas (IRE) 3 9 0 Godolphin Charlie Appleby
Megallan (GB) 3 9 0 Mr A. E. Oppenheimer John Gosden
Mehmento (IRE) 3 9 0 Hambleton Racing XLVI & Partner Archie Watson
Merchants Quay (FR) 3 9 0 Mr D. Smith, Mrs J. Magnier, Mr M. Tabor Aidan O’Brien
Method (IRE) 3 9 0 Manton Park Racing Martyn Meade
Military Style (USA) 3 9 0 Mrs John Magnier,Mr M.Tabor & Mr D.Smith Aidan O’Brien
Mithras (GB) 3 9 0 Haras de Saint Pair John Gosden
Mujbar (GB) 3 9 0 Mr Hamdan Al Maktoum Charles Hills
Mystery Smiles (IRE) 3 9 0 King Power Racing Co Ltd Andrew Balding
Nando Parrado (GB) 3 9 0 Mrs Marie McCartan Clive Cox
Naval Crown (GB) 3 9 0 Godolphin Charlie Appleby
Noble Dynasty (GB) 3 9 0 Godolphin Charlie Appleby
One Ruler (IRE) 3 9 0 Godolphin Charlie Appleby
Parchemin (IRE) 3 9 0 Godolphin S.N.C. A. Fabre
Percy’s Lad (GB) 3 9 0 JD Partnership Eve Johnson Houghton
Poetic Flare (IRE) 3 9 0 Mrs J. S. Bolger J. S. Bolger
Prince Lancelot (GB) 3 9 0 A. Gilibert Fabrice Chappet
Rhythm Master (IRE) 3 9 0 John and Jess Dance Richard Fahey
Rifleman (IRE) 3 9 0 Mrs J Magnier, Mr M Tabor & Mr D Smith John Gosden
Rogue Force (IRE) 3 9 0 The Rogues Gallery Tom Clover
Roman Empire (IRE) 3 9 0 Mr M. Tabor, D. Smith & Mrs John Magnier Aidan O’Brien
Royal Air Force (IRE) 3 9 0 Mr Edward J. Ware Simon & Ed Crisford
Royal Champion (IRE) 3 9 0 Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum Roger Varian
Royal Scimitar (IRE) 3 9 0 AlMohamediya Racing Clive Cox
Sandhurst (IRE) 3 9 0 Mrs John Magnier,Mr M.Tabor & Mr D.Smith Aidan O’Brien
Sayf Al Dawla (GB) 3 9 0 Ms Sally Elizabeth Wall Peter Chapple-Hyam
Secret Protector (USA) 3 9 0 Godolphin Charlie Appleby
Snapraeterea (IRE) 3 9 0 J.P. Farrell Joseph Patrick O’Brien
State of Rest (IRE) 3 9 0 Teme Valley Joseph Patrick O’Brien
St Mark’s Basilica (FR) 3 9 0 Mr D. Smith, Mrs J. Magnier, Mr M. Tabor Aidan O’Brien
The Attorney (IRE) 3 9 0 Mr Ziad A. Galadari Charles Hills
The Rosstafarian (IRE) 3 9 0 Middleham Park Racing LXXXVII Hugo Palmer
Thunder Moon (IRE) 3 9 0 Mrs C. C. Regalado-Gonzalez Joseph Patrick O’Brien
Van Gogh (USA) 3 9 0 M Tabor/D Smith/Mrs Magnier/Mrs Nagle Aidan O’Brien
Wembley (IRE) 3 9 0 Mr M. Tabor, D. Smith & Mrs John Magnier Aidan O’Brien
Xaario (FR) 3 9 0 Mr Abdullah Almaddah David Menuisier
Youth Spirit (IRE) 3 9 0 Ahmad Al Shaikh Andrew Balding
Breandán Ó hUallacháin, Contributor