Irish 2,000 Guineas: Rosallion edges out Haatem at the Curragh

Rosallion led home stablemate Haatem to give Richard Hannon a Classic one-two in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

The colts were second and third respectively in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in early May, with Charlie Appleby’s Notable Speech something of a shock winner.

Sean Levey took the ride on Rosallion, the 10-11 favourite, but in the closing stages Haatem looked to be cruising home under Jamie Spencer.

A swift turn of foot from the favourite changed the complexion of the race in the final strides, however, and it was Rosallion who was victorious by a head with River Tiber taking third, beaten a further length and a quarter.

“I’m delighted, both of them have run a super race,” said Hannon.

“Rosallion was a bit keen early and Haatem is such a brave horse, he’s run such a lovely race and I’ve never known a horse to have as many supporters as he has. He probably didn’t deserve to get beat but his day will come.

“Rosallion, I’m absolutely delighted with him, I couldn’t be happier.

“He took a bit of time to pick them up. He’s such a hyped horse and he’s not going to please everybody. He proved he got the trip today and that was the pleasing thing.

“We’ll go to the St James’s Palace Stakes and try our best to beat the horse that beat us last time. It will be hard.”

Betfair made Rosallion the 7-4 favourite from 3-1 for the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot, where he will likely meet Notable Speech again.

Of Haatem, who is likely to step up in trip, Hannon added: “I love the second horse, he’s such a smashing horse and it’s a pleasure to have him. I’m delighted with him.

“Haatem has probably run the race of his life. This is a Guineas, they go on about how it’s not a vintage Guineas but all the best horses had their chance and these two have run smashing races.

“I think he’ll (Haatem) get further and will discuss it with the Sheikh (Abdullah Almalek Alsabah, owner) and the team and see where we go, but there are a lot of lovely days in him. I’d love to think they’ll both stay in training next year, please!

“There is so much work that goes into these, there is a big team at home and I’m really pleased. These days are very rare and we’re going to enjoy it.

“I’m delighted for Sean, for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid (Rosallion’s owner) and Sheikh Abdullah will be delighted with his horse as he lost nothing in defeat, if anything he’s probably earned more fans and his day will come.”

Levey, who had felt his former partner Haatem would be the biggest threat to Rosallion, added: “I always thought it was going to be a bit like that. The only horse that presented pace in the race was one of ours.

“I thought he would be hard beat here today, so I knew when I got to him he had just done everything right for himself and he has dragged me to the line, so he has had to work hard to get by him.

“My lad can get a bit generous if you put him in a position where he has to be competitive, so the only thing I could do was take (him) out of it.

“I was confident I was going to get him (Haatem), especially that last bit where he is climbing all the time.

Of Hannon, the rider added: “He is absolutely brilliant to ride for, like his father before him. We work really well together because he doesn’t tell me anything!

“I think his view is that he has done the training and the riding is completely up to me. If I get it wrong, don’t get me wrong, my head is on the chopping block!

“Fingers crossed, hopefully Ascot is the next step.”

River Tiber pleased trainer Aidan O’Brien, though the run did not answer any questions over his ideal trip, with stablemate Unquestionable in fourth and Mountain Bear in seventh.

“I was delighted. I would probably have preferred if it was a more end-to-end gallop, we’d have learned about the mile better,” O’Brien said of River Tiber.

“We still don’t know if he really gets a mile or not. We have a choice to make now in Ascot, do we go back to six, do we go seven or do we go St James’s Palace.

“Ryan wants to go to the Jersey because he wants Henry (Longfellow) for the St James’s Palace, he’s trying to divide them all!

“Maybe he’ll get his way but it’ll depend on what the lads want to do.

“He probably has loads of speed, which we knew he had. He never ran beyond six before and it was hard to ride him any more forward.

“He did what we thought, he was better than Unquestionable. Unquestionable will improve plenty because he got tired, which we thought he would as well.

“It’s going to be interesting if they all meet in the St James’s Palace, it’s whether he goes to that or the Jersey.”

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