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2000 Guineas stars set for Royal Ascot decider

Galileo Gold and Awtaad will meet at Royal Ascot in a battle of the British 2000 Guineas winner and the Irish 2000 Guineas winner.

The Hugo Palmer trained Galileo Gold was looking for British and Irish Guineas double on Saturday at the Curragh, but was beaten by the Kevin Prendergast star Awtaad, who made it four wins from five starts in the Group 1 event.

Under Frankie Dettori, Galileo Gold, was sent off as the 5-4 favourite and looked to have a good position on inside of the field throughout the race. But Chris Haynes and Awtaad were travelling powerfully and took up the running two furlongs out; an electric burst pushed him clear of the field.

Dettori and his mount were unable to match the speed of the winner but finished well clear of the rest in second.

Now the pair look set for a deciding clash on the opening day of Royal Ascot in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

The Epsom Derby had been mooted as a potential race for Galileo Gold, but the world’s most famous flat race is not an option and Palmer is keen to take on Awtaad once again.

He said:  “The St James’s Palace is meant to be the championship decider between the two Guineas winners and if The Gurkha comes as well what a race we have to savour – better than the Derby.

“I’m not afraid to take on the Curragh winner again on better ground. It’s a very exciting prospect that I’d relish and would be fantastic for racing.”

While connections of Awtaad have also ruled out a tilt at the Derby with Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum saying: “I think it would be hard to give up the chance of the St James’s Palace Stakes by jumping him up half-a-mile.

“He beat the English Guineas winner and the other top milers at the Curragh and would be a wonderful stallion prospect if he won the St James’s Palace against the best ones around.”

O’Brien could hold trump card in St James’s Palace Stakes with The Gurkha

Despite the race featuring two classic winners, the favourite is currently the Aidan O’Brien colt The Gurkha.

The three-year-old is unbeaten in all three starts of 2016 and was ultra-impressive when destroying his rivals in the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains at Deauville.

He too holds an entry for The Derby but is also a best price of 7-4 for the St James’s Palace Stakes. Where will O’Brien send this potential superstar for his next race?

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