Magna Grecia (seen winning at Naas)© Photo Healy Racing
Magna Grecia provided Aidan O’Brien with his 10th victory in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
It is 21 years since the Ballydoyle maestro first won the colts’ Classic with King Of Kings and he has since added to his tally with the likes of Rock Of Gibraltar (2002), George Washington (2006) and the last two winners in Churchill and Saxon Warrior.
This year O’Brien fired a formidable twin assault, with the previously unbeaten Middle Park winner Ten Sovereigns the well-supported 9-4 favourite under Ryan Moore — and the Vertem Futurity Trophy hero Magna Grecia an 11-2 chance in the hands of the trainer’s son Donnacha.
The field split not long after the stalls opened and Magna Grecia was one of just three horses that raced close to the stands’ rail.
It was clear racing inside the final two furlongs that this trio had a significant advantage over their rivals and once asked to fully extend, Magna Grecia rocketed clear to seal a most impressive success.
King Of Change was the two-and-a-half-length runner-up at 66-1, with Craven winner Skardu (8-1) faring best of those that race in the middle of the track, beaten a length and three-quarters in third.
Madhmoon was fourth ahead of Ten Sovereigns in fifth.
O’Brien said: “I’m delighted. He (Magna Grecia) is a lovely, straightforward horse and he has done well over the winter. He has got very pacey. He is a strong traveller now and is very uncomplicated.
“We were a little bit worried as he was over there by himself and all the fancied runners were over on the other side. Donnacha gave him a lovely ride, had him in a lovely position and in a lovely rhythm and I couldn’t be happier really.”
The County Tipperary handler confirmed Magna Grecia is likely to stick at a mile for the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
He added: “John (Magnier, owner) has been watching him in his work all winter and he knows pedigrees like nobody knows them, and he was very confident that he was going to be a miler.
“When he was getting a mile last year, some people were saying he would have to step up in trip, but John was adamant that from two to three he would get stronger and that’s what it looks like he has done.
“What we were thinking of was coming here, going to the Irish Guineas and then going to (Royal) Ascot.
“We just feel so privileged to be part of this team. It is great for everybody — I can’t tell you how delighted we are.”
Ten Sovereigns, meanwhile, looks set to revert to sprinting, with O’Brien saying: “We knew a mile was going to stretch him, but we thought on fast, clean ground that he might (get it). When the rain came, that was probably against him.
“He ran a great race and we’ll probably drop him back to six furlongs.”
Richard Hannon was unsurprisingly delighted with the performance of King Of Change.
He said: “The owners wanted to see what we had coming here and we have found out now. He is a good horse.
“He is in all the good races, so we will sleep on it and think about it. I think he will get a mile and quarter, but we will stick at a mile for now.
“We always thought he was a good horse and I was a bit disappointed when he was beaten at Wolverhampton and then he was impressive when he won at Nottingham. He will get better as the years go on — this year and next year.”
William Haggas bemoaned the fact Skardu was seemingly drawn on the wrong part of the track.
“He won his side and there is nothing more to say. It was shame there was an advantage, but we are proud of how he has run and he stuck it out well,” said the Newmarket handler.
“I don’t want to sound bitter as I’m not at all. I feared the worst when we were drawn three, but the winner has bolted up.
“The plan would be to go to Ascot as he has had a hard race today, so I think that is what we will do. I’m very pleased with him.”