THE 2000 Guineas always seems to sneak up on the blind side. I’m sure it gets earlier every year. It’s a race I love and kick-starts a period where the Classic dreams of so many thoroughbred owners either come true or are mercilessly dashed. With 10 going to post, it is hoped the field will not split into two groups and we will see a fair contest with no bleating from connections afterwards. The Guineas trials have been run on fast ground, which is not always the case, so no excuses. The hope is that we may see a true champion emerge. Here’s a horse-by-horse guide to the 2000 Guineas contenders…
CHURCHILL: The warm favourite to give the peerless Aidan O’Brien his eighth 2000 Guineas victory. Lack of a prep run would normally be a concern but the trainer is a master of producing a Guineas horse to win first time out (although Air Force Blue was a rare flop last year). It’s difficult to crab Churchill. He won five out of six as a juvenile and it seems almost unbelievable that he was only third on his racecourse debut. That is a slight worry for a horse making his seasonal reappearance although the ground was soft that day. Churchill was workmanlike rather than spectacular in his victories, including the Group One National Stakes and the Dewhurst, but you cannot ignore the positive vibes coming from the Coolmore camp. Saying that, Australia was hailed as the best he has trained when he arrived for the Guineas but was only third. From a betting angle, 6/4 is far too short and I’ll be looking elsewhere for value. However if there is a champion in the field, the son of Galileo is the most likely to be crowned.
BARNEY ROY: Impressed in the Greenham when he reeled in Godolphin compatriot Dream Castle. He looks a horse of immense potential and is another who could emerge as a real star from this race. 4/1
DREAM CASTLE: Ran with the choke out in the Greenham but looked all over the winner two furlongs out. Stamina is a doubt and jockey Silvestre De Sousa has publicly voiced his feeling that he may be a serious seven furlong horse. But if he is ridden with a little more restraint, he could be a serious player and 16/1 looks decent each-way value.
AL WUKAIR: Andre Fabre knows what it takes to win the 2000 Guineas (Zafonic and Pennekamp) and this unbeaten son of Dream Ahead has done little wrong. He has also had a prep run. 9/2
EMINENT: This unbeaten son of Frankel impressed in winning the Craven where he broke the course record and confidence has been growing that he can emulate his father by winning the first Classic of the season. His price has contracted this week and he is into 11/2. In one sense the best odds have pretty much gone but he ticks all the boxes. I thought he might be more of a Derby horse (he is one of three 2000 Guineas entries to hold an Epsom Derby entry) but he showed enough speed in the Craven to suggest he is a major player here.
LANCASTER BOMBER: Second to Churchill in the Dewhurst at a big price before running well in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Those looking to throw an each-way dart at an outsider could do worse at 33/1.
LARCHMONT LAD: Fifth to Eminent in the Craven when he appeared not to quite see out the mile. Might be more of a Jersey Stakes horse although Richard Hannon insists he will not be there to make up the numbers.
SPIRIT OF VALOR: Down the field at Meydan in the UAE Derby, he looks to be Aidan O’Brien’s third string. 50/1
LAW AND ORDER: Has done little wrong but would have to find about 20lb of improvement to trouble the principals. 80/1
TOP SCORE: Looks outclassed. 100/1
Selection: EMINENT 11/2