Araafa Surprises in Irish Two Thousand Guineas

Race favorite George Washington struggled with the heavy going at The Curragh as Araafa rolled to an impressive victory in the Boylesports Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) on Saturday.

Araafa, who went off at odds of 12-1, reversed the form he showed earlier this month at Newmarket, where he could only manage placing fourth to George Washington in the Stan James Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I). The son of Mull of Kintyre relished the heavy going at The Curragh, however, and powered home to a two-length victory.

Araafa's win gave trainer Jeremy Noseda his first victory in a classic. It was the second Irish classic success for jockey Alan Munro; he won the 1991 Budweiser Irish Derby (Ire-I) aboard Generous.

The rainy conditions that had plagued The Curragh throughout the week continued on Saturday, when an additional 5.5 millimeters of rain fell in the morning. That left many race goers believing that George Washington would be scratched due to the conditions of the course. The champion colt almost confirmed those beliefs when he refused to leave the parade ring and enter the race course. Trainer Aidan O'Brien had to back the headstrong colt out of the ring, and escort all four of his entrants to the starting gate.

Araafa, who went to the front with just over two furlongs left, had gotten first jump on George Washington. That colt, who had been held up at the rear of the pack during the early stages, was finally able to thread his way through the pack to challenge the leaders late in the race. George Washington never threatened the winner, who galloped home an easy victor. Decado held on for third, one length further back.

Jockey Kieren Fallon, who was aboard the beaten favorite, was disappointed, but was also looking forward to a rematch. "We got beaten," Fallon stated, "but no doubt there will be revenge when we get better ground." The jockey later added, "They only crawled, then sprinted. When that happens on ground as bad as we had today, it's hard to peg back a horse who handles the conditions."

Araafa will now be pointed to the St. James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot.