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Page last updated at 15:00 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 16:00 UK

St Nicholas Abbey bids for 2,000 Guineas glory 2,000 Guineas, Newmarket, 1 May, 1505 BST
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St Nicholas Abbey
St Nicholas Abbey was an impressive winner on his three starts at two

Leading trainer Aidan O'Brien seeks his sixth success in the 2,000 Guineas with the unbeaten colt St Nicholas Abbey in the first Classic of the flat season.

Nineteen horses are declared for the one-miler at Newmarket on Saturday, with St Nicholas Abbey highly fancied.

The Montjeu colt will be making his seasonal bow and was last seen in the Racing Post Trophy last October.

He galloped to a three-and-three-quarter length victory over Elusive Pimpernel on that occasion.

Elusive Pimpernel's subsequent win by four lengths in April's Craven Stakes has merely served to confirm the form shown by O'Brien's charge at Doncaster, who is already as short as 11-8 to win the Derby in June.

However John Dunlop, Elusive Pimpernel's trainer, was enthused by his charge's performance over the same course and distance as the Guineas - and will bid for revenge on Saturday.

St Nicholas Abbey will be ridden by the Coolmore operation's number one jockey, Johnny Murtagh, with Eddie Ahern on board Elusive Pimpernel, a probable second favourite.

A three-time winner of the first Classic of the season is Richard Hannon, and he has two representatives in 2010 - Canford Cliffs, winner of the Group Two Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2009, and Dick Turpin, who got the better of his stable companion when the duo filled the first two positions in the Group Three Greenham Stakes in April.


Despite that defeat, jockey Richard Hughes retains faith in the son of Tagula and believes he should get the mile trip.

"I think he will get a mile. From day one we never really thought he was a sprinter so I'd be quite confident," he said.

"It was the fastest Greenham on record. He just got tired, that's all, and he needed the run to shake him up as he hadn't run for such a long time but he's a different horse now than he was before the Greenham."

Awzaan, trained by Mark Johnston, was unbeaten in four starts over six furlongs last term, including his defeat of top-class Norfolk Stakes winner Radiohead at Newmarket on his final outing.

Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: "On his pedigree he should get the mile and while he has only raced over six furlongs, [jockey] Richard Hills certainly feels he will definitely get the trip as he switches off and waits for you to ask him and then quickens when he has to."

No French-trained horse has prevailed in the 2,000 Guineas since Pennekamp in 1995 but there is a strong contender from across the Channel this year in Makfi, who is trained by Mikel Delzangles at Gouvieux, just to the north of Paris. The son of Dubawi is unbeaten in two starts.

Pat Eddery won the 2,000 Guineas three times as a jockey and saddles his first Classic runner as a trainer in Hearts Of Fire, who ended last season with a Group One victory in the Gran Criterium at San Siro in Italy.

Meanwhile, six-time champion jockey Kieren Fallon is reuniting with his former Coolmore bosses for the first time since returning from an 18-month drugs ban last September. Fallon has landed the ride on the stable's third string, Viscount Nelson.

Odds from race sponsor (as of 1300 BST on Thursday, other bookmakers available): 6-4 St Nicholas Abbey, 5-1 Elusive Pimpernel, 7-1 Canford Cliffs, 8-1 Awzaan, 12-1 Fencing Master, 14-1 Al Zir, 16-1 Inler, 18-1 Xtension, 20-1 Dick Turpin, 28-1 Hearts of Fire, 40-1 bar.

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see also
Special Duty claims 1,000 Guineas
02 May 10 |  Horse Racing
Fallon returns after injury scare
17 Apr 10 |  Horse Racing
Pimpernel pounces to claim Craven
15 Apr 10 |  Horse Racing
Sea the Stars named horse of year
17 Nov 09 |  Horse Racing
Horse Racing results on your mobile
15 Feb 10 |  Horse Racing

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