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Cristoforo Colombo

Cristoforo Colombo: will wear cheekpieces for first time in 2,000 Guineas

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (  

Cheekpieces on Cristoforo in Guineas

CRISTOFORO COLOMBO, the surprise choice of Joseph O'Brien, will wear first time sheepskin cheekpieces when he lines up in Saturday's Qipco 2,000 Guineas to  for which there were 13 declared on Thursday.

Bidding for back-to-back wins in the race following Camelot's success last year, O'Brien hopes the cheekpieces will counteract Cristoforo Colombo's "lazy" style of running.

"We use them a good bit and they're just an aid more than anything," O'Brien told At The Races. "He can be a little lazy and the cheekpieces should suit. It just helps them travel a little easier."

A key factor in the jockey's decision appears to be the experience Cristoforo Colombo has over Mars as well as the fact his mount is likely to encounter his optimum conditions for the first time in Saturday's Classic.

He added: "We came to the decision [to ride Cristoforo Colombo] together but I couldn't be happier. Mars has only ever had one run so it's a massive ask off the back of that to run at Newmarket in a Guineas.

"Cristoforo has plenty of experience and the fast ground should suit him. He ran a massive race in Ascot last year when drawn on the wrong side and I think he will improve for the step up in trip.

"He's never had his ground and things have never gone right for him. I suppose the only time he had his ground was Ascot and he ran a massive race to finish a length behind Dawn Approach.

"Stepping up in trip, on better ground, I could see him making up a little bit of that."

Assessing the chances of stablemates Mars and George Vancouver, O'Brien said: "His work is good and he's a great mover and i think fast ground will be essential for him. He's plenty of pace but he's only had the one run and you'd just like to have a bit more experience going into the race.

"George Vancouver had a great run in America. He relaxes and has a great turn of foot on fast ground. On his run in America he'd have a great chance."

With O'Brien on Cristoforo Colombo, Seamie Heffernan has been confirmed for Mars and Colm O'Donoghue rides George Vancouver with stablemate Lines Of Battle, who contests the Kentucky Derby, the only defection from Monday's five day entries.

Favourite Dawn Approach, who has been drawn in stall six, will be joined by stablemate Leitir Mor who finished second behind the Godolphin owned colt in last season's Dewhurst Stakes after trainer Jim Bolger decided against diverting him to the Poule d'Essai des Poulains.

Free Handicap winner Garswood has been the subject of good support this week and connections could not be happier with his preparation.

Robin O'Ryan, long-serving assistant to trainer Richard Fahey, said: "Garswood did his final piece of work earlier in the week and we are very happy with him.

"We had great belief that he was a good horse before he ran in the Free Handicap and were delighted with his victory. 

 "He is such a relaxed horse and we are confident that he will see out the one mile trip on Saturday."  

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