05/25/2002 12:00AM

Rock of Gibraltar adds Irish Guineas to resume


Rock of Gibraltar scored an easy victory in the Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh on Saturday, giving his trainer, Aidan O'Brien, his third Guineas triumph of the year, following victories in England and France.

Sent off the odds-on favorite after his victory in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier in the month, Rock of Gibraltar could not have been more impressive.

Held up in the back of the pack early by jockey Mickey Kinane, he made smooth progress in the final furlong and a half, cruising by his stablemate Century City in the final 150 yards with dismissive ease to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Century City finished second, three lengths ahead of Della Francesca. Both of those are also trained by O'Brien and gave him another clean sweep in the classic. O'Brien-trained runners ran one-two-three in last year's Irish Guineas as well.

Ahsanabad, ridden by Johnny Murtagh for trainer John Oxx, was the only runner to challenge the O'Brien trio, but after disputing the lead he was beaten with more than two furlongs left to run.

After heavy rain in the days before the race, the ground was officially soft to heavy, though this made no difference to the winner. His connections, however, are hoping for better ground at Ascot on June 18, where Rock of Gibraltar will attempt to follow in the footsteps of last year's Guineas winner, Black Minnaloushe, and capture the St James's Palace Stakes.

Speaking after the race, O'Brien, who bred the winner in partnership with his wife and father-in-law, said, "The St James's Palace Stakes was always the plan, and hopefully he'll get a good bit of ground there. We knew he had progressed from Newmarket as he'd been doing his work so easily."