05/04/2006 12:00AM

O'Brien's two big guns set to duel in Guineas


The Aidan O'Brien-trained pair of George Washington and Horatio Nelson will put their tall reputations on the line, against each other no less, in Saturday's $607,000 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket, where the undefeated Sir Percy will attempt to throw a spanner into O'Brien's works.

Sons of Danehill both, the O'Brien-trained big names will be making their seasonal debuts in the classic Guineas, which will be run over the straight Rowley Mile at Newmarket. So, too, will the O'Brien-trained Frost Giant, who will serve as their pacesetter. O'Brien has stated publicly that George Washington, the European juvenile champion, is further advanced at this stage, and with Kieren Fallon aboard, it will be difficult to beat him. His eight-length victory in the six-furlong Group 1 Phoenix Stakes was the outstanding performance by any 2-year-old in the world last year.

There is reason to believe that Horatio Nelson may get the better of the Marcus Tregoning-trained Sir Percy, who beat him by a neck in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes last October going seven furlongs at Newmarket. Horatio Nelson was unlucky that day, and was making up ground near the line. He should be running late, and it would not be surprising to see him haul in George Washington. His rider, Michael Kinane, is looking for his fourth 2000 Guineas triumph, as is Fallon. Race sponsor Stan James has George Washington pegged as the 15-8 choice, with Sir Percy at 7-2 and Horatio Nelson at 13-2.

That is the same price the British bookmaker offers on the dangerous Amadeus Wolf, a son of Mozart. The winner of the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes and the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes, both at six furlongs, last year, the Kevin Ryan trainee should stay a mile, as Amadeus Wolf's broodmare sire is 1996 Guineas winner Mark of Esteem.

Godolphin, winner of this race with Mark of Esteem and again with Island Sands in 1999, will send out the 16-1 Opera Cape, a Barathea colt. Second in Horatio Nelson's Prix Jean Luc-Lagardere and third behind Sir Percy and Horatio in the Dewhurst, Opera Cape is fresh from a winter in sunny Dubai.

Red Clubs, Misu Bond, and Killybegs are all coming off recent stakes wins, and of these Killybegs is the one to watch. Trained by Barry Hills, his 3 1/2-length victory in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes was the best Guineas prep of the spring. If George, Horatio, and Percy aren't quite ready after a long winter's rest, Killybegs and rider Michael Hills could spoil their party.