Tag Archives: 2000 Guineas

2000 Guineas Stakes (G1)

Lancaster Bomber is greeted by Aidan O’Brien after winning his maiden at Leopardstown last August

The smallest field in 22 years contests this Guineas and last year’s top ranked two year old Churchill heads the market.

He was beaten on debut last May but in five runs since he’s come out on top. The win sequence began in the Chesham Stakes (L) at Royal Ascot in June and continued through the summer with wins in the Tyros Stakes (G3) and the Futurity Stakes (G2). In the autumn he added the National Stakes (G1) and Dewhurst Stakes (G1), the top two-year old races in Ireland and Britain.

In command, kept on well, going away, comfortably and stayed on strongly are the descriptions of those runs. What it means is that he was a top class two-year old who improved throughout his juvenile career. As a three-year old will that progression be maintained?

This time last year Air Force Blue held similar credentials. In fact he was rated higher on 124 lbs going into the Guineas, 2 lbs above Churchill’s current mark of 122 lbs, and he started an odds on favourite for this race. He turned out to be bitterly disappointing only beating one home in this last year and his further three runs were no better. It’s unlikely Churchill fate will be similar more likely he’ll continue to progress. Air Force Blue is a War Front whereas Churchill is by Galileo.

Aidan O’Brien also sends Lancaster Bomber and Spirit Of Valour. The latter is the likely pacesetter. In the Dewhurst last year the betting suggested that Lancaster Bomber sent off at 66/1 was there to make the pace for Churchill but he stayed on strongly, as he did when he won his maiden, and filled the runners-up spot. He did it again in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). He was given a spin on dirt in the UAE Derby (G3) in March this year where he ran on well and connections have decided he’s better placed here than in Kentucky. If the pace collapses he will take it on and again he may prove difficult to overhaul.

Eminent trained by Martin Meade comes here on the back of a smart Craven win where he beat Rivet the Racing Post (G1) winner of last year. Prior to his win at Doncaster Rivet had run in the Dewhurst where he was beaten 3 1/2L by Churchill. It’s worth noting that we have not seen the Craven/Guineas double done since Haafhd in 2004.

Godolphin have a brace of entries headed by Barney Roy trained by Richard Hannon who also sends Larchmount Lad into the fray.

Richard is no stranger to winning this as in his first season in charge in 2014, after taking over from his father, he sent Night of Thunder out to overturn Kingman at odds of 40/1. That was a reversal of the result of that year’s Greenham. Barney Roy has travelled the same path and was an impressive winner of the Newbury trial where he beat the other Godolphin runner Saeed Bin Suroor’s Dream Castle by a cosy 2Ls.

Andre Fabre has made a flying start to the season already having won nine Pattern Races at home in France. He sends Al Wukair whom he hopes will follow in the footsteps of Zafonic and Pennekamp who both won the Guineas in the nineties. He has been bullish about his chances saying he expects a place at worst for the son of Dream Ahead. A winner of a maiden and at listed level as a juvenile he won his trial the Prix Djebel comfortably beating the previous G1 winner National Defence who had won France’s premier two-year old race for colts the Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1).

This Guineas field might be a small in number but it’s deep in quality.

There will be plenty of pattern race winners coming out of this and it’s conceivable six could go on to score at G1 level as the season progresses. The question is which will lift this prize. Barney Roy bursts with potential as does Al Wukair and both have already won over a mile. Eminent, Dream Castle and Lancaster Bomber are all promising colts but Churchill is rock solid.

Rarely does a colt who has achieved so much already break from the gate in a Guineas. There’s a slight question mark on the distance as he’s never raced beyond 7f but his pedigree suggests he’ll stay and his win in the Tyros suggests he’ll love the this good to firm ground. He also has the experience of winning over the course. Whilst the others are capable of achieving success at the highest level none of them have done it so far.

This will be a battle. You would imagine the Ballydoyle strategy will be to set a high cruising speed through Spirit Of Valour with Lancaster Bomber tracking him. If Seamie Heffernan’s mount falls away then Lancaster Bomber will be asked to pick it up.

Coming out of the dip Barney Roy will be produced with Al Wukair and Eminent in hot pursuit. Churchill is a very relaxed and laid back sort and Ryan will be able to leave it late to make his challenge. When he’s asked to quicken he won’t be flashy but he’ll get the job done probably by the minimum margin but also with the minimum of fuss.

He might be a short price but he’s the most likely winner of this.

Recommendations:

Churchill  11/8 win.

Churchill and Barney Roy  (forecast)

Churchill, Barney Roy and Lancaster Bomber  (tricast)

 

 

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2000 Guineas (Group 1)

Embed from Getty Images

Air Force Blue running away with The National Stakes from Herald The Dawn. Picture courtesy of Alan Crowhurst and Getty Images.

 

Punters are being asked to take 8/11 about Air Force Blue as we speak, not great value when compared with Gleneagles return of 4/1 last year.

Both were the dominant two-year olds.

Air Force Blue was a triple G1 winner as a juvenile while Gleneagles had one in the bag. It would have been two had he not been disqualified by the stewards in France in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc day. They had different campaigns with the only common thread being the National Stakes where both won however Gleneagles time was 4 seconds quicker than Air Force Blue’s albeit on much quicker ground.

Air Force Blue enters the race rated 124 as opposed to Gleneagles mark of 116 last year. That goes some way to explaining the bookmakers stinginess but are either the rating or the price justified? In the last decade Frankel, Dream Ahead and New Approach all entered their three-year careers rated 126. Top miler, top sprinter and top middle distance athletes of their generations.

Is Air Force Blue up there with them?

He was visually impressive in quickening in the Phoenix Stakes and in the National Stakes and to a slightly lesser degree in the Dewhurst though it was never in doubt.

He did get beaten. In the Coventry 2nd time out by the Mark Johnston trained Buratino who caught him for toe when he didn’t settle. Can that happen again? Unlikely he’s settled in all after that though there is a risk that freshness could be a factor.

There’s a sense he hasn’t been tested at two (immaturity being the issue at Ascot) and a sense he could have put on the afterburners if required, which would have put his rating up there at the 126 mark.

It didn’t happen because he didn’t need to. The others couldn’t live with the ease of his acceleration. He glided by. As a three-year old the same might not be the case. The opposition is bigger, stronger and will also have matured.

His times weren’t fast last year, the G1’s won in slower than standard. In the first, the Phoenix he beat Washington DC who started favourite on Wednesday at Ascot in the Pavillion Stakes over 6f. He was well beaten.

Also of concern is the ability of his sire War Front’s progeny to carry their form from two to three. War Command was a very exciting two-year old who didn’t reproduce at three.

So can he get beat and if so by who.

Of course he can, sure it already happened and now he wears headgear, a tongue-tie and noseband to mitigate the worry about him getting the trip.

All that adds up to the price not being justified but the question of the rating can’t be answered until we seen the run. For racing let’s hope the figure stands up as it’s rare to see a champion miler in the making but speaking from the pocket the one’s that might catch him out are this weeks plunge horse Hugo Plamer’s Galileo Gold and Godolphin’s Buratino who after beating him at Ascot couldn’t live with him at the Curragh in the National. He then ran second to Shalaa in the Middle Park, not shabby form at all.

Then there’s the other Godolphin runner Jim Bolger’s Herald The Dawn, second in the National ahead of Buratino and 3 1/4 Ls behind Ultra when pulling too hard in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. He has  3L’s to make up on Air Force Blue. We might be in for a Kingman moment, beaten here in the Guineas the only blot on the copybook in an otherwise flawless career.

If we are to have a Night Of Thunder then we may well Herald The Dawn. Watch out for the white cap.

 

Recommendation: Herald The Dawn 33/1 e.w 

 

 

 

 

The 2000 Guineas (Group 1)

The flat season bursts into life this weekend with the 2000 and 1000 Guineas meeting at Newmarket in England and the Kentucky Oaks and Derby at Churchill Downs in America.

Focus here is the 2000 Guineas and who will come out of Newmarket’s famous dip to triumph. It’s a real test for inexperienced three-year olds who can become unbalanced entering it at speed and then can’t recover in the short run to the line. Those who handle it grab the ground on the incline and then stretch out on the run up to the line. You can be sure the winner will do that.

Nineteen have been declared with Gleneagles heading the market as he has done all winter. The top two-year old of last season comes here without the hype that surrounded Australia last year but with a lot more experience at top-level than last year’s favourite. Four wins from six runs, Aidan O’Brien put him through the gears last year.

After being beaten first time out he went back to the course to win a maiden. He followed up with G3 Tyros Stakes, added the G2 Futurity Stakes, then the G1 National Stakes and finished off first past the post in France’s premier two-year old G1, the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. He was disqualified for interference in the straight with Territories (promoted to second) and was placed third by the stewards.

Andre Fabre has supplemented Territories for this on the back a smooth success the Prix De Fontainebleau while the other French trained runner Freddy Head’s Ride Like The Wind was also a winner last time out in the Prix Djebel. These two first met first time out in a maiden last July when the Head horse came out on top.

Also supplemented is the Roger Varian trained Hamden Al Maktoum owned Intilaaq who won a Newbury maiden in the style of a good horse by 7 L.

Aidan also runs Ol` Man River the ante post Derby favourite.  Unbeaten in two runs, he added the Beresford Stakes to his maiden win and idle speculation over the winter was that the mile here would be too sharp. Considering the other options available with other horses for this race from Ballydoyle and also the alternative of Derby trials it says treat this one as a genuine miler in the eyes of his trainer.

The Hannon quartet (defending the race after 40/1 shot Night Of Thunder won last year) are hard to separate.

Jockey bookings ruled Richard Hughes out of riding Estidhkaar (Paul Hanagan’s choice over Intilaaq)  and Moheet (Frankie Dettori) and he’s plumed for Ivawood over Kool Kompany. Given the choice of the two he might just have got it wrong again (went with Toormore last year). The latter is very hardy and showed his liking for the dip when winning the Craven here three weeks ago.

Ivawood was beaten fair and square in the Greenham where Muhaarar and Estidhkaar fought out the finish with the latter going down a neck with Ivawood 4 1/2 L behind. Richard Hughes felt although they thought he was fit he actually wasn’t. He believes the three weeks since has sharpened him enough to overturn the tables on Estidhkaar. Frankie’s mount Moheet was a 7 L maiden winner last year and all the rage going into the Craven (going off 2/1 fav) but he didn’t handle the dip on that occasion trailing in third 3 1/4 L behind Kool Company.

Qatar Racing will rely on the Ger Lyons trained Capella Sansevero with the withdrawal of Elm Park, the Racing Post winner of last year, as he won’t be risked on the good to firm ground. Capella Sansevero was purchased last year at the inaugural Royal Ascot sale topping the bill. He ran in the Coventry Stakes getting beaten by the Wow Signal when asked to do too much by Jamie Spencer. Overall his form would suggest he’s not far off top-level and he ran well here in the Middle Park when fourth, expect Andrea Atzeni to take the ride.

Hugo Palmer is sweet on the Home Of The Brave who took the European Free Handicap where he accounted for Faydhan the second favourite for this all through the winter.

No other horse in the field has achieved anything like what Gleneagles achieved as a two-year old yet he’s easy to back today as big as at 4/1 in places. Maybe this weakness is connected to the withdrawal of stablemates Found and Together Forever from the 1000 Guineas. The lack of confidence is concerning and looking elsewhere for some value may be the best thing.

If there’ s an upset it might come from Kool Company or Capella Sansevero. Both have track experience. The former may be given a soft lead and could then dictate. The question with the latter his ability to stay the mile but at 66/1 he’s worth the punt.

 

Recommendation : Kool Company 28/1 EW and Capella Sansevero 66/1 EW

 

2000 Guineas (Group 1)

Australia leaving the paddock prior to winning the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Turf Trial Stakes At Leopardstown

Australia leaving the paddock prior to winning the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf Trial Stakes At Leopardstown

The 2000 Guineas is upon us.

After final declaration stage 14 go to post for the first classic of the season.

It’s a much anticipated race with the clash of Kingman and Australia who to date have had three runs apiece none of which have been at top level.

The market rates the pair superior to the three colts who were the leading performers last year.

War Front, the Dewhurst winner, Kingston Hill, the Racing Post winner and Toormore the Irish National Stakes are all considered inferior to the pair of Group 3 winners.

Talk and what the eye has seen are responsible for this abberation.

Both John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien chose easier paths for the market leaders in their juvenile careers yet neither have hidden their own views that both colts are held in the highest esteem.

Kingman won his maiden in the style of a good colt last June and then matched the performance in winning the Solario Stakes (G3) at Sandown on the last day of August. Content he’d done enough he was put away for the winter with Greenham (G3) selected as the target for his comeback run. He put in an ultra impressive performance which saw him usurp the winter favourite this race, Australia.

It’s as much about what Aidan has said about Australia as it is about what we have seen on the track.

At Leopardstown last September in The Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Trial (G3) he blew away the odds on shot Free Eagle by 6 L. The latter had already been installed Derby favourite on the back of a very impressive maiden win previously. This impeccably bred son of Galileo out of Quija Board has been described as the best talent to have graced Ballydoyle since Istabraq. Prior to the meeting with Free Eagle he was beaten first time out when he dwelt at the start and then was an easy winner of his maiden three weeks later in July.

War Command came to our attention last year at Royal Ascot when scooting up in the Coventry by 6 L. He was then beaten in the Phoenix (G1) before adding the Futurity (G2) and the Dewhurst (G1), Europe’s most prestigious juvenile race.

Kingston Hill had three runs in his two year old season. A maiden win at Newbury was followed by the Autumn Stakes (G3) here before in his final racecourse appearance where he took the Racing Post Trophy (G1) at Doncaster.

Richard Hannon is triple handed with Toormore last years leading juvenile being the choice of Richard Hughes. He won a Leicester maiden on route to the taking Goodwood’s Vintage Stakes (G2) before finishing off with a trip to Ireland to take the National Stakes (G1). He showed his well being with a bloodless victory in the Craven Stakes (G3) here three weeks ago. The unbeaten Shifting Power and Night Of Thunder support.

Mainland Europe’s challenge goes beyond the French pair of Bookrunner and Charm Sprit. Spain is represented by Noozhah Canarais who was just touched off on Arc day in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1). Mikel Delzangles knows what it takes to win a Guineas having sprung a surprise in the shape of Makfi in 2010 as does Freddy Head who did it in the saddle in 1982 on Zino. Their representatives are closely matched on Prix Djebel (G3) running in April when a 1/4 L separated the pair in favour of the Head colt.

Godolphin have the forgotten horse here. Outstrip had five runs as a juvenile and his form improved with every run. He beat stable companion True Story (Feilden winner this year) first time out then went down a 1/4 L to Toormore in the Vintage. He then took the Champange (G2) at Doncaster before going down a 2 3/4 L to War Command in the Dewhurst.  He finished off in style at Santa Anita where the won the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) a 1/2 L from Giovanni Boldini.

Ertijaal won’t lack fitness as he had two runs this term at Lingfield where he was crowned the new 3 Year Old All Weather Champion last time out.

The ground will be near perfect come post time tomorrow. John Gosden will walk the course in precautionary mode before giving the all clear to Kingman. It will ride good to firm, good in places and won’t be a hindrance to any of the participants.

The Guineas is all are is about the future. The main protagonists will be without their cotton blankets that have kept their reputations warm through the winter. They will be exposed to the test of serious top level competition from colts who have proven themselves.

Down the Rowley mile there won’t be a hiding place.

The battle hardened Toormore, War Front, Kingston Hill and Outstrip will put it up to Kingman but although bred for middle distances it’s Australia who stands out. The manner in which he grabbed the ground and put distance between himself and Free Eagle suggests he’s a colt of exceptional quality. This is likely to be his one and only shot at a mile and his class is what will carry him through.

It’s not just the talk. It’s the manner in which he did it at Leopardstown.

Recommendation :  Australia 3/1 win

                                      Outstrip 28/1 ew

 

 

 

 PRIX