Aidan O'Brien reached a remarkable landmark at Newmarket this afternoon when saddling Magna Grecia to win the Group 1 Qipco 2000 Guineas, the trainer's tenth winner of the mile classic. It was a second consecutive win in the race for jockey Donnacha O'Brien, and a second Group 1 success for the horse.
Magna Grecia, a son of the Irish National Stud stallion Invincible Spirit (by Green Desert), was the stable second string with Ryan Moore partnering the 9/4 favourite Ten Sovereigns. Both colts were Group 1 stars last year but neither had run since their top-level win and the favourite, who showed a touch of brilliance over six furlongs, was not guaranteed to get the trip.
It is a pity that the field split into two groups especially as it seemed that the trio racing on the stands' side may have had an advantage. They finished first, second and sixth in the 19-runner contest.
That said, Magna Grecia beat 66/1 King Of Change by two and a half lengths with a further gap of one and three-quarter lengths back to third-placed Skardu, who had a head and the same to spare over Madhmoon and Ten Sovereigns. The recent listed scorers Shine So Bright and Kick On were another half-length and the same back in sixth and seventh.
Each of this septet remains a colt of potential, with the runner-up – a second-crop son of Farhh (by Pivotal) – giving the impression that he may have run an excellent trial for the Group 1 Investec Derby. Ten Sovereigns, whose pedigree does give him a chance to stay a mile, seems likely to drop back in trip following this defeat and may be seen next in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup over six furlongs at Royal Ascot in June, and a possible clash with the equally exciting Calyx.
Magna Grecia got some short ante-post quotes for the Investec Derby after his Group 1 Vertems Futurity Trophy victory and after today's classic success, but although he does have the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby among his entries, he is not currently engaged in the Epsom classic.
The distaff side of his pedigree gives him a chance to join Born To Sea and Allied Forces as being a rare Invincible Spirit who stays 12 furlongs in top company, but post-race interviews with connections indicated that a campaign at around a mile is the likely plan of action. He is in both the Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas and Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes.
Invincible Spirit, a Timeform 121-rated six-furlong Group 1 winner whose dam, Rafha (by Kris), won the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks), is long established as being one of the best stallions in Europe. His 18 Group 1 stars feature standouts such as Charm Spirit, Kingman, and Moonlight Cloud, and his early stallion sons include Lawman, I Am Invincible, and Kingman, which augurs well for the eventual prospects of Magna Grecia.
His new classic hero is a half-brother to a couple of winners out of Cabaret (by Galileo), a former Ballydoyle trainee who won a Curragh maiden and the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown, both over seven furlongs at two. Her half-brother Drumfire (by Danehill Dancer) won the Group 3 Solario Stakes over that same trip and half-brother Ho Choi (by Pivotal) was a blacktype scorer over the distance in Hong Kong, but there is plenty of stamina to be found if you go back a bit farther on the page.
Grandam Witch Of Fire (by Lear Fan), a blacktype-placed winner over seven furlongs, is a half-sister to several middle-distance winners and one who scored over two miles – as well as to a prolific sprinter – and she is out of the Lomond (by Northern Dancer) mare Fife. That one got her blacktype when third in a 10-furlong listed contest at Goodwood but was later placed at 14 furlongs at York.
However, more notable about Fife is that she was a half-sister to the talented stayer El Conquistador (by Shirley Heights) and to the dam of the Group 1 Prix Vermeille heroine Pearly Shells (by Efisio), and that her two-mile winning dam was a half-sister to the Group 1 Irish St Leger scorer Mountain Lodge (by Blakeney).
Magna Grecia, who was bred by Woodnook Farm Pty Ltd and made 340,000gns at the Tattersalls December Foal Sale, is a Timeform 116p-rated mile Group 1 winner at two who has gone on to become a classic star at three. There is a good chance that he will double-up with classic victory at the Curragh and every reason to hope that he will be able to hold his own when he takes on his elders later in the year.
Sires & Winners