henrythenavigator and johnny murtagh

Johnny Murtagh and Henrythenavigator
(Caroline Norris)

Henrythenavigator more than confirmed his classic superiority over New Approach from Newmarket three weeks earlier when accelerating like a top-class performer under Johnny Murtagh to win the Boylesports Irish 2000 Guineas (Gr1) at the Curragh on yesterday..

English based Thoroughbred Times correspondent, Tony Smurthwaite, reports as follows :

The gap between the two Irish-trained colts had been only a nose when upset favored in the on May 3.

On faster turf at the Curragh, the placings were the same but the dominance was stretched to 1 3/4 lengths. The immediate question after the race was whether the Coolmore team that races Henrythenavigator, a Kingmambo colt, would now target the 1 1/2-mile Vodafone Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) at Epsom on June 7.

Gibraltar-based bookmaker Victor Chandler made the winner his 4-to-1 second favorite for the Derby. Ladbrokes decided not to offer a quote based on uncertainty regarding Coolmore’s plans for Henrythenavigator.

Winning trainer Aidan O’Brien, who earned his fifth victory in the Irish 2000 Guineas, said Henrythenavigator was “very much in the mix” for the Derby.

“The Derby is very much in the picture,” O’Brien said. “A lot of horses by Kingmambo stay a mile-and-a-half, and this colt is out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, so that is a positive. Henrythenavigator is a strong horse.”

After the race, Jim Bolger, who trains last season’s European champion two-year-old male New Approach, claimed the turf—officially listed as firm—was too fast for such an important contest as a classic. Yet the winning time of 1:39.63 was considerably slower than the 1:36.10 recorded by Cockney Rebel on good-to-firm ground a year ago.

“The management should have done a better job by watering more than they did,” Bolger said.

New Approach was taken to the lead in the five-horse field by Kevin Manning, who had to roust his mount to stay in front during the race and said later that the Galileo (Ire) colt was feeling the fast ground.

“I knew after going about one furlong that we were in trouble,” Manning said. “He was hanging a bit and not letting himself down on the ground. It was too firm for him.”

Stubbs Art finished third, as he had done at Newmarket, and Jupiter Pluvius, stablemate of the winner, was fourth. Nownownow, winner of the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, finished last of five in his European debut.
Bred by Western Bloodstock, Henrythenavigator is out of the Sadler’s Wells mare Sequoyah (Ire). He improved to four wins in six starts.