The 2,000 Guineas Stakes, run annually over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket, traditionally in early May, is the first British Classic of the season. The race was established by the Jockey Club in 1809 and has been run, without interruption, ever since, albeit that the 1999 renewal was transferred to the July Course at Newmarket during the redevelopment of the Rowley Mile.
The leading trainer in the history of the 2,000 Guineas is Aidan O’Brien, who has saddled a total of 10 winners. Formerly Irish Champion Amateur Jockey, O’Brien was Champion National Hunt Trainer in his native land five seasons running between 1993/94 and 1997/98 but, in 1996, was recruited by Irish billionaire John Magnier to succeed his unrelated namesake Vincent O’Brien at Ballydoyle Stables in County Tipperary. For three years, O’Brien divided his time between Ballydoyle and his original yard in Owning Hill, County Kilkenny, but has been Perennial Irish Champion Flat Trainer since 1999; he has also been British Champion Flat Trainer on six occasions, most recently in 2017.
Unlike other distinguished National Hunt trainers, notably Michael Dickinson, O’Brien made a seamless transition to Flat racing. He saddled his first 2,000 Guineas winner – in fact, his first British Classic winner of any description – on May 2, 1998, when King Of Kings, ridden by Mick Kinane, won, as O’Brien later recalled, ‘very easily’. On May 4, 2002, Rock \of Gibraltar, owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and ridden by Johnny Murtagh, edged out stable companion, and favourite, Hawk Wing to give O’Brien his second win in the Newmarket Classic. Since then, the lion’s share of the prize money, which nowadays totals £500,000, has headed to Ballydoyle eight more times, courtesy of Footstepsinthesand (2005), George Washington (2006), Henrythenavigator (2008), Camelot (2012), Gleneagles (2015), Churchill (2017), Saxon Warrior (2018) and Magna Grecia (2019).