The Irish Mail on Sunday
Kingman sets up a royal showdown
KINGMAN set up one of the heavyweight showdowns of next month’s Royal Ascot by sluicing through the mud at the Curragh for a five-length win in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Now trainer John Gosden has set his sights on avenging the only defeat of his colt’s career – at the hands of Richard Hannon’s Night of Thunder in the English 2,000 Guineas earlier this month – with a rematch in the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes.
Night of Thunder held a half-length advantage when the pair clashed at Newmarket but the tactical nature of that race – the field split into two groups racing on opposite sides of the Rowley Mile – left huge question marks about which was really the better horse.
That was not an i s s ue at
t he Curragh. Gosden won the Irish 2,000 Guineas for the first time while James Doyle, No 1 jockey to owner Khaled Abdullah, also landed his first classic on the 4-5 favourite Kingman. Hannon’s Shifting Power was second.
Gosden said: ‘It is great fun because of Richard, who I am very fond of. We’ve got some rivalry now as the score is 1-1 and Kingman will go for the St James’s Palace.’
Kingman is proven on soft ground but only got the all-clear to run shortly before the race.
With the ground turning heavy after persistent rain, Aidan O’Brien pulled out his main contender War Command.
Gosden said: ‘I walked the track and it was very debatable. This mile takes some getting in these conditions and he [Doyle] rode him beautifully. He is a very talented horse.’
Doyle has found the Curragh a happy hunting ground. The Guineas was his third Group-One success at the track. But it took no great riding masterclass to emerge on top on Kingman in a race dominated by the fancied horses.
Richard Hughes led from the start on S h i f t i n g P o wer whi l e Der mot We l d ’s Mus t a j e e b , u l t i ma t e l y beaten a further two lengths in third, was always close to the pace under Pat Smullen.
But Kingman settled the issue in a matter of strides at the furlong pole.