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Magician sets Derby poser with Irish Guineas victory

Magician gave Aidan O’Brien a ninth victory in the Irish 2000 Guineas and has been slashed to as low as 5-1 for the Epsom Derby. Connections refused to rule out an audacious attempt to land a second classic in seven days but the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot seems a more likely alternative.

Magician was the subject of a major gamble at the Curragh, shortening from 14-1 at the start of the week to return at 100-30. The win was never in debt as he was given a perfect lead by Dante runner-up Trading Leather and he only needed a slap with the whip to gallop three and a half lengths clear of stable companion Gale Force Ten.

The form of Dawn Approach was badly let down as Van Der Neer, third in the Newmarket 2000 Guineas, trailed home in eighth place. Godolphin’s runner remains 4-5 favourite ahead of Battle Of Marengo, long thought to be Ballydoyle’s main hope, at 4-1. There has also been speculation that Frankie Dettori may return from his ban in time to ride either Ruler Of The World or Mars in the Epsom classic.

Looking further ahead, Magician was also cut to 10-1 by the sponsors for the Coral Eclipse with Dawn Approach the 5-2 favourite and Lockinge winner Farhh at 7-2. It promises to be quite a clash between Dawn Approach and Magician but whether it takes place at Epsom remains to be seen.

The other big race on Saturday saw veteran sprinter Kingsgate Native take the Temple Stakes at Haydock, reversing Newmarket form with the hot favourite Sole Power. The Robert Cowell-trained gelding just held the late burst of Swiss Spirit by a neck with the three-year-old Reckless Abandon a head back in third.

The winner was cut to 10-1 for the King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal meeting with Reckless Abandon cut to 8-1. Swiss Spirit recovered well after a slow start and is 12-1 to gain his revenge at Ascot. Reckless Abandon is also 8-1 for the six furlongs Diamond Jubilee Stakes, a race that may prove a more likely target.