05/25/2006 12:00AM

Guineas a one-horse race


George Washington will have to find a way to lose if he is to be defeated in Saturday's $512,000 Irish 2000 Guineas, so overwhelming is his presence in The Curragh's one-mile classic.

Ladbrokes has installed George Washington, the impressive winner of Newmarket's 2000 Guineas, as the 4-9 favorite for the Irish Guineas. The ground is expected to be no better than soft, and possibly worse, and if George Washington is to be beaten, it may be the ground that proves his undoing.

A Danehill colt, George Washington has never run on ground worse than good, but he is so classy it would be a surprise if he could not handle the going. Kieren Fallon will ride George Washington.

George Washington's trainer, Aidan O'Brien, is in search of his fifth Irish 2000 title, and will also saddle three others. Hurricane Cat and River Tiber both have won on soft ground, and Arabian Prince is a Group 3-placed son of Fusaichi Pegasus.

The one O'Brien and Fallon must be wary of is Decado. A Kevin Prendergast-trained son of Danehill Dancer, Decado has won his last three starts, the most recent a 3 1/2-length victory in the seven-furlong Group 3 Tetrarch Stakes at The Curragh on May 1. All three of those wins came on off going. The Tetrarch came on good to yielding ground, an April 9 listed race was on yielding to soft, and his maiden score last November came on soft to heavy. Declan McDonogh will ride Decado, who is the 4-1 second choice with Ladbrokes.

The only horse from the Newmarket Guineas who is challenging George Washington again is Araafa. Trained by Jeremy Noseda, Araafa was fourth, 4 3/4 lengths behind George Washington at Newmarket. He has not won since winning his maiden first time out at Newmarket on July 29.

Caribbean, Golden Arrow, and Heliostatic, who were fourth, fifth, and eighth behind the O'Brien-trained Dylan Thomas in the Group 2 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, are all cutting back in distance from 1 1/4 miles.

* The state of the ground at The Curragh could also play havoc with Sunday's Tattersalls Gold Cup, a 1 5/16-mile Group 1 contest that will mark the return of European Horse of the Year Hurricane Run. Brian Meehan is keen to run his recent Dubai Duty Free winner David Junior against Hurricane Run, the Arc winner, but won't unless the ground firms up.