This weekend sees the first two Classics of the season take place on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket. In the 2000 Guineas Richard Hannon will be looking to defend his crown after Night Of Thunder’s 40/1 triumph last year.
Here is a preview of the 2000 Guineas
A field of 19 is currently going to post however there have been question marks raised about the participation of the Racing Post Trophy winner Elm Park.
With the current ground conditions described as good to firm it would take a “minor miracle” according to trainer Andrew Balding for him to participate as he will require softer ground.
If he doesn’t race tomorrow he should still be in the frame for a tilt at the Derby at Epsom later on in the season where he is currently best price 10/1.
With that lingering doubt about his participation we head to the main selection in Estidhkaar (8/1). He won three of his first four starts including winning two Group 2 races in the Superlative Stakes, here at Newmarket, and the Champagne Stakes.
In the Superlative Stakes he beat Aktabantay, who himself went onto win a weak renewal of the Group 3 Solario Stakes. In his last start of last season he was fourth of six in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes disappointing connections & favourite backers.
After re-watching the Dewhurst you can argue he didn’t act on the soft ground. Firstly out of the stalls he went right and needed to be nudged along and looked a little keen.
He has had a run this season, which is a big thing in my opinion, as he’ll come on for that. At Newbury, 14 days ago he 2nd to Muhaarar (entered into the French 2,000 Guineas) in the Greenham Stakes, as was Night Of Thunder last year, before going onto win this race at a big price.
That pair pulled clear of Ivawood in 3rd and then a gap to the rest of the field. That race recorded good figures suggesting he could reward connections with this step-up in trip to a mile for the first time as Richard Hannon thinks it should be beneficial.
It is currently difficult to say whether the draw will be crucial due to the fact there will be a false rail in place. The races earlier in the draw will give you the information whether his low draw will be entirely beneficial.
At a price Kool Kompany (33/1 each-way) would interest me considering the nature of his victory on his seasonal reappearance. In the Craven Stakes 16 days ago he got the lead and never looked back seeing off his six rivals from the front despite giving said opponents weight.
For his first attempt at a mile it was quite a taking win and one that has arguably been swept under the carpet as many will look at it as an uncontested win compared to the Greenham Stakes, which was obviously the better of the two trials.
Even though he went untroubled from the front he kept on well to see off Nafaqa, while Moheet, another Hannon horse, will come on for his experience in on only his second start, which showed promise running on in the latter stages for third.
It is fair to say Kool Kompany is a little underrated coming into the opening classic of the season and considering he doesn’t need to front run suggests he could be ridden differently by Pat Dobbs, as Richard Hughes takes the ride on the more fancied Ivawood.
The fact that this white-faced colt wouldn’t be the worst bet in the world considering he is only one of two currently in the race; the other being Elm Park. So seeing as he is a proven stayer he could have been overlooked in the betting.
If there does prove to be a draw bias from the early races then it shouldn’t be a problem for him as he is drawn down the middle so can get to either rail if necessary but of course he will be contested for the lead.
Gleneagles is the current favourite for Aidan O’Brien. He is a deserved favourite after winning on all but his debut. He ‘won’ the Group 1 Grand Criterium at Longchamp, however the French Stewards demoted him to third after causing interference and Full Mast was awarded the victory. He needs to show that he has trained on and he hasn’t yet been seen from two to three. A worry for me would arguably the big field size as he has only faced ten rivals maximum and that was when winning his Maiden by 2½l.
His stablemate Ol’ Man River will be ridden by Joseph O’Brien, who has to get himself down to the weight of 9-0 to take the ride, something he hasn’t done in recent weeks. If the colt is fully fit he is a danger to the current favourite after winning both starts as a two-year-old including the Group 2 Beresford Stakes at The Curragh. From Financial Beo, a 1,000 Guineas and Irish 1,000 Guineas winner he could be the one to beat.
Even though Ivawood is the choice of Richard Hughes there is still lingering doubts whether he will stay the trip, as he didn’t seem to get home in the Greenham a fortnight ago. For me he is more of a sprinter over 6f where he made an impression last season winning two Group 2 races over that distance before finishing 2nd in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes by a nose.
Of the rest Godolphin has supplemented Territories. He ran in the Prix de Fontainbleaux in what was a slowly run race to win. Two concerns are that this will be a stronger gallop and his best form is on slower ground. Celestial Path was 3rd behind Elm Park in the Racing Post Trophy, however he comes from a yard out-of-form and looking to require the run, so the 189-day absence is a concern.
Home Of The Brave is likely to go forward with Kool Kompany and will appreciate the quicker ground. He is attempting the mile for the first time, which leaves question marks hanging over his stamina but he does have a win over 6f and 7f at the track.
Intilaaq is the most interesting of the field. Only one start last season when 3rd by 2¼l at Ascot before reappearing a fortnight ago in big-field Maiden at Newbury over this distance and scooted clear of his rivals to win by 8l and enter a few notebooks. Having been supplemented we must take him seriously and he there is still plenty of room for improvement. Considering the supplement fee of £30,000 he must have impressed in his work at home since too. For this one it definitely one to watch the market on.