Best Irish 2000 Guineas Winners of the 21st Century

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Newmarket Racecourse Stands

With the English Guineas in the books for another year, the Irish milers are the next in the spotlight, with Irish Guineas weekend taking place at the Curragh on the 27th and 28th of May.

The Irish 2000 Guineas may not enjoy quite the same prestige as the Newmarket version but is roughly equal in terms of prize money and, like the HQ event, all but guarantees the winner a career at stud. Legendary names such as Grundy, Sadler’s Wells and Rodrigo De Triano all feature on the roll of honour, and here we look back at the top five winners of the current century.

5. 2005: Dubawi

  • Trainer – Saeed bin Suroor
  • Sire – Dubai Millennium
  • Peak Career Rating – 125

Saeed bin Surroor’s Dubawi rounded off a perfect juvenile campaign with a 3l romp in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh. Sent off as the clear favourite in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on the back of that effort, things didn’t quite go to plan, as the colt could manage only fifth behind Footstepsinthesand.

The quick ground was put forward as an excuse that day, and back on a slower surface, and returning to the Curragh, Dubawi put the Irish 2000 field to the sword in emphatic style. A further top-level success came in the Jacques Le Marois at Deauville, before Dubawi retired to stud at the end of his three-year-old season.

It is for his exploits as a stallion that Dubawi is now best known. Sire Dubai Millennium is widely accepted as the greatest-ever horse to race in the Godolphin Blue but managed only one season at stud before his untimely death. From that single crop, Dubawi has emerged as the horse to impart the brilliance of his father upon future generations. Counting the winners of four English Classics and a Dubai World Cup amongst his progeny, he lies behind only the great Galileo on the list of modern stallions.

4. 2008: Henrythenavigator

  • Trainer – Aidan O’Brien
  • Sire – Kingmambo
  • Peak Career Rating – 125

The first of two Aidan O’Brien-trained colts on our list is the 2008 hero Henrythenavigator. Following a golden period which saw four Irish 2000 Guineas heading back to Ballydoyle between 1997 and 2002, O’Brien may have been disappointed to miss the mark in the five subsequent years. However, his dominance would soon be resumed, with Henrythenavigator’s win sparking a sequence of seven wins between 2008 and 2017, to take O’Brien well clear as the most successful trainer in the history of the race.

This son of Kingmambo had hinted at greatness during a solid juvenile campaign but was without a top-level success heading into the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. He put that right when hanging on by a nostril from subsequent Derby champ New Approach, before confirming those placings in more authoritative style in this contest. Adding to his haul when twice mastering Raven’s Pass in the St. James’ Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes, he signed off with a gallant second to that rival on the global stage in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

3. 2014: Kingman

  • Trainer – John Gosden
  • Sire – Invincible Spirt
  • Peak Career Rating – 126

A perfect two from two in his juvenile campaign, and a sensational winner of the Greenham Stakes on his first start at three, Kingman was being touted as the next big thing headed into the 2014 2000 Guineas. Sporting the famous Khalid Abdullah silks, some were even beginning to draw comparisons with the magnificent Frankel. However, whilst the greatest flat runner of all time posted one of his most memorable displays at Newmarket, Kingman had to make do with a close second to 40/1 shock winner Night Of Thunder. He would, however, never taste defeat again.

Routing the opposition by 5l in this event, he then comfortably gained revenge on Night Of Thunder in the St. James’s Palace Stakes, before confirming himself as the king of the division when proving way too good for the opposition in the Sussex Stakes and Jacques Le Marois.

2. 2010: Canford Cliffs

  • Trainer – Richard Hannon Snr
  • Sire – Tagula
  • Peak Career Rating – 127

Just missing out on our top spot by the narrowest of margins is one of the finest horses to emerge from the yard of Richard Hannon Snr. A Group-winning sprinter as a juvenile, many questioned his ability to see out the mile trip on the back of a defeat in the Greenham Stakes and a third-placed effort in the 2000 Guineas Newmarket. However, Hannon knew the colt best, and Canford Cliffs would go on to make his critics eat their words in spectacular style.

A streak of five consecutive Group 1 triumphs – all over a mile – began in this contest, where his potent turn of foot simply blew the field away inside the final furlong. At his best when held up off the pace, Canford Cliffs found the perfect partner in the ever-patient Richard Hughes, with the pair combining to land the St. James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes, Lockinge Stakes, and Queen Anne Stakes. He came up short in his final start when taking on Frankel in the famous “duel on the downs” edition of the Sussex Stakes, but, as history has shown, there was no shame in that defeat.

1. 2002: Rock Of Gibraltar

  • Trainer – Aidan O’Brien
  • Sire – Danehill
  • Peak Career Rating – 126

Despite rounding off his juvenile campaign with back-to-back Group 1 successes in the Grand Criterium and Dewhurst Stakes, this son of Danehill – part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson – was still viewed as the Ballydoyle second ahead of the Newmarket Guineas, with the enigmatic Hawk Wing sent off as the clear favourite on the day. A neck verdict later, and Rock Of Gibraltar was heading to The Curragh with a hat-trick of top-level wins to his name.

Three became four as he won hard-held from Century City, and four soon became seven courtesy of effortless wins in the St. James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes, and a slightly more challenging Prix du Moulin victory. That tally set a new northern hemisphere record for successive Group 1 wins at the time – a record which stood until a certain Frankel came along.