Magician secured trainer Aidan O’Brien his ninth Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas and his 29th domestic Classic with a devastating performance at the Curragh.
The Ballydoyle trainer had made a last-minute adjustment to his team, with the defection of Cristoforo Colombo elevating the Dee Stakes winner Magician (100-30) to the shortest-priced of his four runners and he was partnered by O’Brien’s son, Joseph.
Although last seen in action over a mile and a quarter at Chester, the Galileo colt had never appeared short of speed and completed a Ballydoyle one-two by beating stablemate Gale Force Ten by three and a half lengths.
Kevin Manning and Trading Leather kicked on at the halfway point, but he was stalked by O’Brien and Magician settled the matter at hand with a furlong left.
O’Brien senior said: “We weren’t sure coming back (to a mile) after a mile and a quarter but obviously they (Coolmore owners) made the right decision.
“Cristoforo Colombo just wasn’t 100% for here so I wouldn’t have been able to make the decision but the boys made it themselves and it was obviously the right one.
“They went a strong gallop, from halfway he let him stride on and he said he went to the line really strong.
“He’s very calm but also very sharp and he can go from being very calm to being very sharp, very quick and usually that’s in the good horses, he has that.
“He’s by Galileo which makes him extra special and when he has that kind of speed and looks like that, he’s very exciting. He’s so straightforward, Joseph could have made the running or dropped him in, he’s uncomplicated and that’s a great sign of a horse.
“Everyone knows he won a mile and a quarter very well at Chester and to get a strong mile like that, you have to stay a mile and a quarter, especially here at the Curragh.
“He’s a beautiful horse, lovely head, big ears and a great behind on him - he’s built like a real miler but he stays further than a mile.”
Looking further ahead, O’Brien said: “He has a lot of options now. Obviously he could go to the St James’s Palace Stakes. Next week (Epsom Derby) would come too quick for him, you’d imagine.”
In the immediate aftermath Coolmore supremo John Magnier was not completely ruling out a tilt at the Investec Derby, albeit admitting he was talking “tongue in cheek”.
He told At The Races: “He did it well you have to say, he was impressive. This is an improving horse and being by Galileo he should stay further.
“We’ll discuss it, but all there are all kinds of options. We could go the St James’s Palace route, and we’ve done crazy things before – we could run him at Epsom or go for the Eclipse.
“I’m saying that (Epsom) tongue in cheek, but we could. We’ll savour the moment and not get carried away.”
There were numerous disappointments in a race where very few were involved and it was far from a dream start to having a licence for trainer-rider Johnny Murtagh.
Ask Dad had cut out the early running but Murtagh’s mount Fort Knox only beat his weakening stablemate home.
With Trading Leather holding third for Jim Bolger, Richard Hannon’s raider Havana Gold collected fourth.
But Hannon’s 5-2 favourite Van Der Neer, the Newmarket Guineas third, was never in contention and finished eighth of the 10 starters.
It was a third Irish 2000 for Joseph O’Brien, who said: “He’s a very, very tough horse and tries very hard.
“We went a nice gallop, I was always very happy throughout the whole race. I was able to dictate things my own way.
“After passing the three (furlong marker) I was very, very happy. I thought it would take a really, really good one to come and get me. He galloped all the way to the line.
“He has loads of pace. I think the key to him is fast ground.
“He settles very well and he has a great attitude – I couldn’t say he wouldn’t get further than 10 furlongs, either.”
A number of firms slashed Magician for Epsom, among them Stan James, for whom spokesman Joseph Burke said: “Magician has halved in price from 20-1 to 10-1 for next Saturday’s Epsom Derby.
“The 10-1 quote takes into account the fact that he may not run in the race - should Magician turn up, that will look an exceptional price for punters willing to take a chance.”