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Horse Racing: Duke Of Marmalade leads the home defence; 3.45 IRISH 2,000 GUINEAS Contenders Aidan O'Brien trio.

Byline: Tony O'Hehir

DUKE OF MARMALADE heads the home team for today's Irish 2,000 Guineas, which has not been won by an Irish-trained colt since Rock Of Gibraltar gave trainer Aidan O'Brien his fourth win in the Classic in 2002.

The Danehill colt is one of three probable O'Brien-trained runners today - Excellent Art is expected to take his chance despite O'Brien revealing last night that the colt had a slight foot problem - and bids to reverse placings with the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas first and second, Cockney Rebel and Vital Equine, having finished fourth to them this month.

O'Brien was hopeful of a big run from Duke Of Marmalade at Newmarket, and yesterday he expressed himself "happy" with his charge's subsequent wellbeing.

He said: "Duke Of Marmalade had to have a pastern screwed after he came back from Goodwood last summer and was off for a long time. I think it was the end of January before he was back being ridden out.

"He ran a good race at Newmarket and, while he hasn't done any searching work since, you would hope that he has come on for the run, like most of ours do from the first run of the season."

Seamus Heffernan takes over the ride from Mick Kinane, who is on board He's A Decoy for DavidWachman in today's race.

Assessing Excellent Art, O'Brien said: "He had a little bit of a problem with a foot this afternoon, but we think he should be okay to run. He's been in good form since his run at Longchamp."

Winner of the Mill Reef Stakes for Neville Callaghan last year, Excellent Art was having his first run for O'Brien when finishing fourth behind stablemate Astronomer Royal and Creachadoir - a rival again today - in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains a fortnight ago.

"It was a good run and he was a bit unlucky to run into horses coming back on him at a vital stage of the race," said O'Brien.

Completing the Ballydoyle trio is Trinity College, of whom O'Brien said: "He won't mind bowling along if he has to."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 26, 2007
Words:351
Previous Article:Horse Racing: 'We are going to have to drop in and finish' 3.45 IRISH 2,000 GUINEAS Contender Vital Equine.
Next Article:Horse Racing: French Guineas second bidding to go one better; 3.45 IRISH 2,000 GUINEAS Contender Creachadoir.
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