05/21/2008 11:00PM

Rematch of a near dead heat


Henrythenavigator and New Approach renew their budding rivalry on Saturday at the Curragh, the scene of the $631,000 Irish 2000 Guineas, just three weeks after their classic battle in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Henrythenavigator prevailed by a mere nose that day, but odds-on favorite New Approach was coming back at him at the end after having led to the sixteenth pole. New Approach, last year's European juvenile champion, suffered his first loss in six career starts that day but had beaten Henrythenavigator 3 1/4 lengths into third in the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh last August. Trainer Jim Bolger will give son-in-law Kevin Manning a leg up on New Approach, who should turn the tables on Henrythenavigator while using this mile as a prep for the 1 1/2-mile Irish Derby on June 29.

A Kentucky-bred son of Kingmambo, Henrythenavigator had won the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot before finishing third in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes and the Futurity. The English Guineas was his first race in more than eight months, and he should certainly improve off that classic-winning effort, but the same must be said of New Approach, who ran at Newmarket off a 6 1/2-month absence. Johnny Murtagh retains the ride on Henrythenavigator, whose trainer, Aidan O'Brien, will also saddle the unbeaten Jupiter Pluvius, who will be making his first start since winning the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes on Oct. 29. A son of Johannesburg, Jupiter Pluvius was bred to be a precocious one, however, and may find this company too tough.

David Wachman, the son-in-law of Coolmore boss John Magnier, will send out Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Nownownow. Wachman had tried to get him into the Newmarket Guineas but ran out of time due to some very wet weather in Ireland this spring. Nownownow won at Monmouth Park on officially yielding ground that was much more like soft. He has won on firm ground, however, so the likely good to firm going at the Curragh should not pose a problem. Meeting horses like the two favorites off a seven-month absence, however, may be asking too much of Nownownow.

Stubbs Art, who was third at Newmarket, four lengths behind Henrythenavigator and New Approach, has been supplemented for $63,000 in the hope that he can reverse the form, while trainer Dermot Weld has warned that he will withdraw Famous Name, the four-length winner of the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial, unless the ground softens up considerably.