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O’Brien dominates Irish Guineas entries

Aidan O’Brien has left eight horses in at the latest declaration stage for the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday. His challenge is spearheaded by Cristoforo Colombo, Mars and George Vancouver who were all well beaten by Dawn Approach at Newmarket. The Guineas form has been called into question by some observers after 150-1 outsider Glory Awaits finished runner-up.

Perhaps the most interesting of O’Brien’s entries is runaway Dee Stakes winner Magician, currently priced at 16-1 for the Epsom Derby. O’Brien could also run Gale Force Ten who was a close fourth in the French Guineas. The Newmarket form is also represented by Richard Hannon’s Van Der Neer who finished a staying-on third. Hannon also plans to run Havana Gold who finished a respectable fifth at Longchamp.

With Dawn Approach heading for Epsom, his trainer Jim Bolger has left five of his stable companions among the 19 declared runners. Dante Stakes runner-up Trading Leather may drop back in trip along with Loch Garman who chased home Battle Of Marengo at Leopardstown.

Top jockey Johnny Murtagh was granted a training licence only last week but could start his new career in sensational style with the well-regarded Fort Knox. His victory in the Irish 2000 Guineas Trial was sufficient for Sheikh Mohammed to purchase the colt but his pedigree suggests that he would prefer soft ground this weekend.

Sunday’s Irish 1000 Guineas has attracted 18 entries and could see a return clash between Newmarket second and third, Just The Judge and Moth. Just The Judge led inside the final furlong only to be caught by Sky Lantern on that occasion and must have a great chance of going one better.

Moth has been displaced as Oaks favourite by Secret Gesture in recent weeks and it will be interesting to see if O’Brien elects to go here instead. Other runners with claims include Big Break, Just Pretending, Maureen, Snow Queen and Viztoria.

Cristoforo Colombo is the early favourite for the 2000 Guineas at 5-2 with Van Der Neer 4-1, Mars 6-1 and Fort Knox at 7-1.