Trainer Aidan O'Brien will send out four of the 10 runners in the Tattersalls Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) May 25 as he bids for a ninth win in the classic at the Curragh, including early favorite Magician .
Currently the 9-4 pick with bookmaker Paddy Power, Magician cuts back to a mile after an impressive four-length romp as the favorite in the 1 1/4-mile Betvictor.com Dee Stakes (Eng-III) May 10 at Chester. The Galileo colt unleashed a powerful turn of foot in the straight and drew clear in the closing stages to defeat second favorite Contributor.
O'Brien also will send out 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) winner George Vancouver, who will look to rebound from his 10th in the QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) May 4 at Newmarket in his 2013 debut.
Stablemates Gale Force Ten, an Oasis Dream colt who was third in the 2012 Middle Park Stakes (Eng-I), and Flying The Flag, a Galileo colt who was the runner-up to Irish Guineas entrant First Cornerstone in the 2012 Galileo E.B.F. Futurity (Ire-II), are also entered. They come in off respective fourth and ninth-place finishes in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Fr-I), or French Two Thousand Guineas, May 12 at Longchamp in their season openers.
While the Irish classic comes up a bit too soon for Richard Hannon's Olympic Glory, who finished 11th as the favorite in the French Guineas, the trainer sends out a potent duo in Havana Gold, a Teofilo colt who finished a creditable fifth at Longchamp, beaten less than a length, and Van Der Neer.
Van Der Neer stormed past stablemate Toronado near the finish line to take third behind Dawn Approach in the Guineas at Newmarket. The Dutch Art colt is fine fettle, said Hannon, who has won the Irish Guineas three times previously.
"The Curragh's uphill finish should also play to the strengths of Van Der Neer, who was staying on better than anything when third to Dawn Approach in our Guineas," Hannon told England's Press Association.
Johnny Murtagh rode three of O'Brien's eight Irish Guineas winners and aims to launch his newly minted training career in style as he sends out Fort Knox and Ask Dad.
"I got the license on (May 17) and it's all systems go," Murtagh said.
Murtagh will ride Fort Knox, a Dubawi colt recently acquired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. He was aboard when the colt charged from near the back of the field on the home turn to win the Leopardstown Two Thousand Guineas Trial by 1 3/4 lengths April 14. The colt's full brother Dubawi Gold was the runner-up in the both the English and Irish Guineas in 2011.
"Fort Knox is a decent colt and will appreciate a decent bit of ground," Murtagh said. "We could not be happier with him and he is ready to put up a big showing. We supplemented Ask Dad for the race and he is likely to take his chance too."
Ask Dad, an Intikhab colt, was supplemented for €30,0000. He posted two wins and two seconds last year as a 2-year-old with Hannon. He enters the Irish Guineas off an 11th-place finish in a six-furlong race at Naas May 15 and makes his group stakes debut.
Rounding out the field is trainer Jim Bolger's homebred Trading Leather, a Teofilo colt who was second in the Dante Stakes (Eng-II) May 16 at York, and trainer Andy Oliver's First Cornerstone, a Hurricane Run colt who makes his 2013 debut for Team Valor International with Chris Hayes aboard.