It is not often that a Classic is defined by the horses who are absent, but that might well be the case for this year’s 2,000 Guineas. From March onwards we have seen Quorto, hot ante post favourite Too Darn Hot, Autumn Stakes winner Persian King, Covenntry winner Calyx and Greenham Stakes winner Mohaather have all been ruled out for reasons of injury or different targets, which has given us an incredibly open renewal of the first classic. If you’re planning on going to Newmarket and still need tickets then click here to get them at the cheapest possible rate.
As is so often the case with this, Aidan O’Brien has the two chief cards, with Magna Grecia and Ten Soverigns heading the market. Magna Grecia, last seen winning what was a very tight finish to the Vertem Furiity Trophy (previously known as the Racing Post Trophy). He’d previously been edged out of the Autumn Stakes by Persian King, who has since bolted up in the Prix de Fontainebleau. The form of his Doncaster win has been mostly boosted, with Great Scot (fifth) in the Greenham and Kick On (also runs here) taking the Fielden Stakes.
He has obvious claims, but he has shaped as a stayer who might be better going at least 10 furlongs and those who are willing to take the 10/3 (a perfectly fair price), should consider backing him for the Derby.
Whilst Magna Grecia is a strong stayer of a mile, Ten Sovereigns boasts arguably the most raw speed in the field. A seven length winner on his debut at the Curragh, he made short work of the Round Tower Stakes before showing a good attitude to get the better of Jash in the Middle Park Stakes, the pair clear of the third. He has plenty to recommend him, although the trip is a question mark on breeding especially in what’s sure to be a well run race.
Madhmoon was initially set to go for the Irish 2,000 Guineas after his defeat in a Leopardstown trial for the race, where he hit the front with promise but was just outpointed late on by a race fit rivals receiving 3lbs. He should be running on faster ground and it’s very hard to forget how impressive he was when beating Sydney Opera House on his maiden and then when beating Broome impressively on Irish Champions Weekend. That form stacks up brilliantly given how Broome has since finished a close second in the Jean Lagadere at Longchamp and then bolted up in the Ballysax Stakes, and he might actually end up giving Hamdan Al Maktoum just as good a chance as Moohaater.
Skardu showed a fine attitude and a great deal of improvement to take the Craven Stakes on just his second run, battling hard to get the better of Momkin, with the previously unbeaten Set Piece in third. All three ran fine races, but Royal Marine had easily the worst run before finishing fourth, with Christophe Soumillion being swamped over the top by the first three as the race developed quickly. He didn’t finish too badly given he had no chance, and with a clear run today, the Prix Jean-Luc winner would be of significant interest.
Advertise represents the best of the juvenile form (below a mile) last season, having finished second in the Dewhurst after a very fruitful juvenile campaign. He ought to be there or thereabouts, and will be hard to kick out of the frame for all that a couple of other contenders made more appeal.
Godolphin supplemented Al Hlalee, a Listed winner at Deauville last summer who was seen that form boosted by Great Scot without running since. He’s a bright prospect, but on that bare form, must have improved over the winter to be seriously involved here. Godophin also have Dark Vision, who didn’t get a great run in the Chelmsford Kentucky Derby trial. On the visual impression of his Vintage Stakes third he’d be interesting, but the form of that doesn’t match others. Shine So Bright was well handicapped and given a good ride when taking the Free Handicap (when Azano was a big disappointment in third) and will be under a lot more pressure today from the get go. Duke Of Hazard has been beaten by a number of horses at the head of the market and neither King of Change nor Name The Wind, useful horses both, have shown Group 1 potential in their wins. Raakib ALhawa was highly thought of, enough to run in the Vertem Futurity last season, but he didn’t handle the step up and Van Beethoven, Sporting Chance, and the Irish Rover look a little exposed.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Madhmoon (15/2 Ladbroke, 7/1 general), 1 pt each/way Royal Marine (9/1 Bet365, Ladbrokes, General)
The 1,000 Guineas is just as open, with Qabala a rightful favourite after winning the Nell Gwyn with a swooping run. That was a fiercely contested renewal (Mot Juste second, Angels’ Hideaway third, Look Around fourth) and if anything she ought to improve for this trip and just the second run of her life, so she’ll take the beating although the market has found her in decent time.
Skitter Scatter, now in the training care of John Oxx (who has partnered with Pat Prendergast) had a huge boost when Lady kaya (the horse she beat impressively in the Moyglare in September), bolted up in the Irish 1,000 trial at Leopardstown. She has shown an excellent turn of foot in two wins on slower ground but Is a good to firm ground winner and won’t be far away – indeed her form is arguably the strongest here. Lady Kaya, so impressive at Leopardstown, is actually here and cannot be ignored either.
Iridessa was third behind Lady Kaya that day and fifth in the Debutante, but on her only two starts over a mile (and on good ground) she bolted up in a good maiden and then won the Fillies Mile, responding brilliantly to pressure to outstay both Hermosa and Pretty Pollyanna. She was extremely authoritative here back in September and a big field could well see her get the sort of test she relishes; A well run mile on good ground. With a run behind her (and not a bad one at that) she makes a lot of each/way appeal.
Just Wonderful didn’t handle slow ground when well behind Skitter Scatter in the Moyglare but she got the better of Fred Darling winner Dandhu in the Rockfel and did well to be fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filles Turf. She’ll get her surface today, and has to be involved in the conversation.
Fairyland has only been beaten once in five starts, having edged out The Mackem Bullet twice to take the Lowther Stakes and then the Chevley Park at the backend of last year. The trip is a question for her, as is the form on a line through The Mackem Bullet’s Breeders’ Cup effort, but she remains a top prospect for sprinting if that should be her game in the future. Another Ballydoyle horse, Fleeting, has had her May Hill win boosted by the good run of Star Terms, and is an interesting entry here for the Ballydoyle team.
Dandhu looked as if she was going to be an easy winner of the Fred Darling stakes a furlong out, but did well to get the better of a close battle between Iconic Choice (2nd), So Perfect (third) and Star Terms (fourth). That was another excellent effort in group company and if she sees out this last furlong well, she can’t be far away. Antonia De Vega was a big disappointment in the Fillies’ Mile but the nature of her maiden win on the July Course (runner up group placed since) and her come from behind win in the Prestige Stakes was that of a very smart horse indeed.
Two worries for her today are that the form of the Prestige stakes hasn’t worked out well at all, and that there wasn’t an explanation given for her dire run in the Fillies’ Mile. She remains an exciting prospect, perhaps for longer distances down the line. Garrel Glen might find this all a bit too hot for her.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Ididessa (8/1 general)