The 2,000 Guineas winner and runner-up have been kept under wraps since they were split by a whisker at Newmarket three weeks ago, but this afternoon Bijou D'Inde, a nostril behind them in that epic three-way finish, puts the first Classic's credentials on the line. The big chestnut, trained by Mark Johnston at Middleham, is one of six raiders from Britain. The home side have not scored since Prince Of Birds flew in eight years ago, and today have mustered only 3 of the 10 runners. The French have never won, but their candidate this time, Spinning World, will vie for favouritism with Bijou D'Inde.
Spinning World, trained by Jonathan Pease in Chantilly, was judged an unlucky three-quarter length runner-up to Ashkalani in his local Guineas two weeks ago when he could not have encountered worse traffic problems on the Place de l'Etoile. Soft ground, which is inclined to space out dodgems, may make things easier for his rider, Cash Asmussen, today.
Beauchamp King, nearly eight lengths behind Bijou D'Inde at Newmarket, and Tagula, a half-length third at Longchamp, take on their conquerors again, and the Godolphin big-race challenge comes from Russian Revival, who is making his seasonal debut and is the only one in the field still in the Derby. Russian Revival had smart juvenile form and will appreciate the step up to a mile, but probably not soft ground, a caveat which also applies to Phantom Quest.
Peter Chapple-Hyam, having won the last two runnings with Spectrum and Turtle Island, is aiming for a hat-trick with Musick House, a five-length winner of his maiden last time out. The race is something of a family affair, for his half-brother Rodrigo De Triano won four years ago, and in 1982 his sire, Sadler's Wells, gave his owner, Robert Sangster, the second of his five wins. Musick House has yet to play in today's sort of company.
The best of the defenders may prove to be Flame Of Athens, a half-brother to Salsabil and Marju, who will strip fitter after his seasonal debut.
The Newmarket and Long- champ Guineas have set up a fascinating comparison today, and it will be disappointing if the finish does not concern the two market leaders. Bijou D'Inde has not had the ideal build-up, being left footsore during the week after an over-enthusiastic pedicure by his blacksmith, but he is a gifted athlete, and if anyone can make him comfortable, his trainer - a vet - can.
Spinning World has had no problems: his connections are confident in his ability to handle the ground and his form was boosted when a previous victim, Luna Wells, won a Group One race a week ago.
The French colt with the English name can hold off the English colt with the French name - if that does not sound too Irish.
Today's big race at The Curragh
FIRST NATIONAL BUILDING SOCIETY 2,000 GUINEAS pounds 182,000 added 3YO 1mn
1 1111-5 BEAUCHAMP KING J Dunlop (GB) 9 0 M J Kinane 6
2 22115-3 BIJOU D'INDE M Johnston (GB) 9 0 J Weaver 7
3 1194-1 DEED OF LOVE (USA) J Bolger 9 0 K J Manning 2
4 31-6 FLAME OF ATHENS M Grassick 9 0 J P Murtagh 10
5 2-31 MUSICK HOUSE P Chapple-Hyam (GB) 9 0 B Thomson 1
6 41 PHANTOM QUEST H Cecil (GB) 9 0 Pat Eddery 5
7 3301-32 RAINBOW BLUES A P O'Brien 9 0 C Roche 4
8 124- RUSSIAN REVIVAL (USA) P Chapple-Hyam (GB) 9 0 L Dettori 8
9 11-32 SPINNING WORLD (USA) J Pease (Fr) 9 0 C Asmussen 3
10 4113-33 TAGULA I Balding (GB) 9 0 K P Darley 9
- 10 declared -
BETTING: 3-1 Spinning World, 4-1 Bijou D'Inde, 7-2 Beauchamp King, 6-1 Tagula, 7-1 Russian Revival, 8-1 Phantom Quest, 10-1 Deed Of Love, 12-1 Musick House, 25-1 Falme of Athens, 33-1 Rainbow Blues
1995: Spectrum 9 0 J Reid 100-30 (P Chapple-Hyam, GB) 9 ran