In the latest of our series we put the QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner under the microscope.
Horse: MAGNA GRECIA
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Regular jockey: Donnacha O’Brien.
Races: 6. Wins: 3. Group 1 wins: 2. Prize-money: £457,666
Form in Champions Series races: 10. Official rating: 118
Aidan O’Brien became the first trainer in more than 180 years to win three successive renewals of the QIPCO 2000 Guineas when Magna Grecia galloped home ahead of his 18 rivals in the first Classic of the 2019 season.
The decisive manner of his victory at Newmarket, gained at the main expense of King Of Change, suggested he would be a significant force over a mile for the rest of the year but it was not to be.
He finished a below-par fifth when a leading fancy for the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on his next start, when it was subsequently discovered that he had suffered a hamstring injury.
Magna Grecia was on the sidelines for the summer recuperating before he belatedly reappeared in the QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day.
He was well-fancied at 13/2 but folded tamely from two out on the heavy going and trailed home well beaten behind King Of Change, who he had beaten so convincingly at Headquarters.
It was a disappointing end to what had been such an explosive start to the campaign.
Let’s go back to the beginning.
O’Brien had a challenging 2018 with a soggy spring at Ballydoyle followed by a virus that affected all his horses.
His juveniles were among those to suffer and it was not until the final day of September that Magna Grecia, a 340,000gns purchase at Tattersalls, made his debut.
Under a month later, he had squeezed in three quick runs, won in Group 1 company and established himself as among the best of his generation. He was among our New Kids On The Block during the winter.
A handsome son of Invincible Spirit, out of Galileo mare Cabaret, Magna Grecia went off 2/1 favourite for a 12-runner maiden at Naas on his debut and, never far away, quickened up smartly to win easily..
He was in action only 13 days later when contesting the Group 3 Masar Godolphin Autumn Stakes over a mile at Newmarket. He and Persian Moon, the unbeaten French raider, dominated the betting and the race itself – pulling clear of their six rivals in an exciting tussle.
The more experienced Persian Moon prevailed by a neck but Magna Grecia emerged with his reputation enhanced.
Just a fortnight later, he started 2/1 favourite for the 11-runner Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes at Doncaster.
The Group 1 contest produced a blanket finish, with little more than a length separating the first five home.
Magna Grecia knuckled down well to win by a head from Phoenix Of Spain, who would go on to win the Irish 2000 Guineas. Circus Maximus finished fourth and would also go on to thrive at three.
It had to be his decisive triumph in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Like O’Brien’s previous nine winners of the race, he was making his seasonal reappearance, although jockey bookings and the betting suggested he was the stable second string.
The unbeaten Ten Sovereigns, winner of the Middle Park the previous year, was the mount of Ryan Moore and went off 9/4 favourite, with Magna Grecia starting 11-2 under Donnacha O’Brien.
Most of the 19 runners raced centre to far side but O’Brien Jr stuck to the stands’ rail with Shine So Bright, a habitual front-runner, and King Of Change.
Shine So Bright , the Free handicap winner, gave his pursuers a great tow and, when he began to falter, they swept past.
Magna Grecia powered clear in the closing stages without looking fully extended and at the line he had two-and-a-half lengths to spare over King Of Change, who was 66/1 but later in the year would land the QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day.
Skardu and Madhmoon were the next pair home, with Ten Sovereigns fading into fifth. He would subsequently drop back in trip and win the Darley July Cup.
WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT HIM:
“He’s such a lovely straightforward horse, he’s become very pacey, he’s a strong traveller now and is very uncomplicated.
“We were a bit worried that he was up the near side and away from a lot of the other fancied horses but Donnacha got him into a terrific position and into a lovely rhythm. It looked a well-run race which would have helped him.
“John [Magnier] knows pedigrees like nobody, he’s been putting pedigrees together all his life and he always thought that he would be a miler.”
Aidan O’Brien after the QIPCO 2000 Guineas
“Magna Grecia is a top-class prospect by the sire of Kingman. He’s got the pedigree and the good looks, and he beat so many good horses in both the Vertem Futurity and the 2000 Guineas.”
Coolmore’s director of sales David O’Loughlin
WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM HIS OFFSPRING:
Magna Grecia was in his element over a mile, as befits a son of Invincible Spirit, whose offspring have generally been sprinters or milers,.
Would he have been effective over a bit further? The fact he won over a mile on easy ground as a juvenile offers encouragement, as did the way he stayed on strongly in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.
However, he never beyond eight furlongs during a career restricted to six starts.
Regardless of that, if you were betting on him siring a Classic winner, then a Guineas victor would no doubt be favourite.
The mares who arrive at his door will clearly be a key factor but his family history points to him potentially at least having some useful two-year-olds among his stock.
The Coolmore stallion’s initial covering fee has been set at 22,500 euros.