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Magna Grecia gives Aidan O’Brien tenth win in QIPCO 2000 Guineas

4 May 2019

The first race in this year's QIPCO British Champions Series was won in great style by Ballydoyle inmate.

Magna Grecia and Donnacha O’Brien scooped the spoils in the Qipco 2000 Guineas. Picture:

Magna Grecia provided trainer Aidan O’Brien with a record-breaking tenth victory in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.

The Ballydoyle maestro saddled the first two in the betting but it was the lesser fancied Magna Grecia, rather than market leader Ten Sovereigns, who stole the show in the first race of the QIPCO British Champions Series with a dominant display under Donnacha O’Brien.

In a fractured contest, Magna Grecia was one of three horses that decided to stick to the stands’ rail and it proved the right move because it was clear at halfway that the trio held an advantage. The 11-2 second favourite put his seal on the contest coming out of the dip and forged clear to win by an emphatic two-and-a-half lengths form King Of Change.

O’Brien has now won the last three editions of the Classic while Donnacha has wasted no time in doubling his tally after landing his first 2,000 Guineas aboard Saxon Warrior twelve months ago.

There had been doubts about whether Magna Grecia was quick enough to win a Guineas but O’Brien revealed that the team felt the race would really suit him.

He explained: “We thought he would get a mile well but he’s developed a lot of speed as well, he stays well but he is starting to travel this year so we couldn’t be happier with him.

“John [Magnier] knows pedigrees like nobody, he’s been putting pedigrees together all his life and he always thought that he would be a miler and I would imagine that’s the route he’ll take now. We discussed it the other night and thought the best route would be the Irish Guineas and then Ascot for the St James’s Palace Stakes.

“The lads put so much work into the pedigrees, day in, day out, and we are so privileged to be part of a massive team that all do such a great job.

“He’s such a lovely straightforward horse, he’s become very pacey, he’s a strong traveller now and is very uncomplicated.

“We were a bit worried that he was up the near side and away from a lot of the other fancied horses but Donnacha got him into a terrific position and into a lovely rhythm.”

When asked about vanquished favourite Ten Sovereigns, O’Brien added: “We wanted to give him the chance at a mile but the plan with him was always to go back in trip to sprinting.”

The Richard Hannon-trained King Of Change was the beneficiary of a stiff pace and jockey Sean Levey felt the son of Farhh, who had stepped up on his Nottingham seasonal debut victory, should take his chance in the Derby.

Levey said: “I was delighted with that. We have always thought he was a nice horse. Everything went smoothly, we had the pace outside us, and I was following the right horse (Magna Grecia).

“I thought I had him for a stage, but then the winner pulled out a bit more. My lad is a big, scopey horse – probably the biggest horse in the race – so going forward there is plenty to be optimistic about.”

Skardu, who won the bet365 Craven Stakes here last month, lost his unbeaten record when finishing a length and three-quarters further back in third under James Doyle, despite ‘winning’ his race on the far side.

Trainer William Haggas said: “He has had a hard race today. He won his side. We are very proud of the way he ran. He stuck it out well and won his race, but the winner has bolted up. They were clear of them from a fair way out, so it was hard for the horse to battle, but battle he did, and he did very well. We are very pleased with him.”

The Kevin Prendergast-trained Madhmoon (7-1) was a neck further back in fourth under Chris Hayes, staying on nicely.