2000 Guineas Preview

By Samantha

The first Classic of the season is upon us. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were watching Clan Des Obeaux blow his rivals out of the water in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. But now the jumps season is coming to a conclusion and along with it the careers of two of the greats, Ruby Walsh and Noel Fehily, so it’s time to focus on the flat and what this summer has to offer.

This is a race steeped in history and Aidan O’Brien has won it an incredible nine times! He has two runners this year – Ten Sovereigns and Magna Grecia – and, for me, they’re the two leading players. The former is a son of No Nay Never and he is currently unbeaten. He has done all his winning over six furlongs so will be stepping up significantly in trip. He has been absolutely electric, winning by big margins, and, in my opinion, there is no reason why he won’t stay one mile. His dam won over one mile two furlong and he has a half brother by High Chapparal who stays two miles over jumps.

Stablemate Magna Grecia would also be unbeaten if not for a neck defeat to a good French horse in the Autumn Stakes. He battled on to win the Vertem Futurity Trophy and that form has worked out quite well as, still in the early days, some nice horses have come out of it, Great Scot and Kick On being two of them. His stamina is assured and he will be partnered by Donnacha O’Brien, who rode last year’s winner.

The only other Irish challenger is Madhmoon. The Kevin Prendergast trained colt was well regarded at the backend of last season after winning his first two starts. He was a bit asleep on his reappearance as he dwelt at the start and ended up getting beaten by an Aidan O’Brien horse who is by no means one of their best. That is worrying for his chances but the soft ground could be an excuse for that run. He is bred to win this, being by Dawn Approach, who won the 2013 running, and is the only horse whose sire won this in the past.

Godolphin have three runners – Al Hilalee, Dark Vision and Royal Marine. Al Hilalee was supplemented into this after winning a Listed race in France in August. Before that, he won a maiden going away and really could be anything. His dam won three stakes races including the Grade One Pretty Polly Stakes. He’ll stay further in the future. Dark Vision looked a nice prospect when winning the Vintage Stakes. After that, Godolphin purchased this lovely big son of Dream Ahead but was last in the Champagne Stakes next time. He wasn’t beaten far in a competitive conditions stakes but will need to improve. Royal Marine ran in the Craven Stakes last time.

The Craven Stakes offered a good for sight into the 2000 Guineas last year and it was won by the William Haggas trained Skardu, a son of Shamardal. The colt was a surprise winner on debut and did really well to win the group three. He had Momkin in second, Set Piece in third and Royal Marine in fourth. Momkin put in a huge run to be second after never running in higher than class four company. He went up 18lbs for that performance so warrants a place in this line up. Set Piece was unbeaten until his defeat in the aforementioned race when he was two lengths away from the winner. He ran on very well that day. Royal Marine is already a group one winner, which was on good to soft at Longchamp. He was fourth when well fancied over in Dubai and the same again in the Craven when I didn’t think he was given a good ride.

The Greenham can also be a decent pointer for this race. The winner doesn’t take his chance but we have the second and third. Great Scot kept on towards the finish to get second so I have no doubt he’ll stay the mile. Last season, he won his first three, including a Listed race, and was fifth to Magna Grecia in the Vertem Futurity, beaten just over a length. Urban Icon won his first two over a trip of six furlongs and stepped up to seven for the Greenham and he ran well. Kick On won the Feilden Stakes on the same day and he made all to win. The first two pulled well clear and that was over further so he will stay this and appreciate further in time.

John Gosden trains Kick On as well as Azano. He won impressively on his second start but then followed in Mohaather in a group three. The latter won the Greenham with Great Scot and Urban Icon in behind. Azano followed in Shine So Bright last time in the Listed Free Handicap over seven furlongs last time so he’ll need to improve to beat the King Power horse and a lot of the other horses. Shine So Bright won on debut nicely and has ran in top company since. He’s not been beaten far but I don’t think he’ll feature despite his win last time.

Frankie Dettori normally rides the John Gosden horses but he partners Advertise for Martyn Meade here. He is three from five and his defeats have both come behind Calyx at Royal Ascot and last time behind Too Darn Hot in the Dewhurst. He won the Phoenix Stakes, a group one, so is a leading player.

King Of Change’s trainer Richard Hannon also has Urban Icon and a potentially smart horse called Walkinthesand (who I like for the Derby), who runs in the Listed race later in the card. King Of Chance wasn’t beaten far on both starts at two and won nicely last time at Nottingham in a class five. He’s a half brother to Century Dream, a group winner, but this is a whole different ball game to what he’s used to. Century Dream is trained by Simon Crisford who has a 125/1 challenger Sporting Chance. This horse has done quite a bit of racing and won the Two Year Old Trophy at Ripon before winning a group three at Maisons-Laffitte over five furlongs and won in Meydan over a mile in February. 125/1 could be a bit excessive. Name The Wind is 80/1 and is actually unbeaten. He won by snug margins at Kempton on both starts. This will be his first try on turf.

Emaraaty Ana’s jockey David Egan has a nice opportunity in the 1000 Guineas as Andrea Atzeni is banned. This Shamardal colt’s maiden win has worked out well and he won the Gimcrack on his penultimate start quite smartly. He was behind Ten Sovereigns in the Middle Park and also has to step up in trip but is bred to handle it as the dam stays one mile four.

MY VERDICT
This is by no means a ‘vintage renewal’ and there is a huge field of runners. It’s quite open and I don’t want to be boring but I like the chances of the top two in the market – TEN SOVEREIGNS and Magna Grecia. I think Ten Sovereigns has the most scope for the future but Magna Grecia has the assured stamina. Madhmoon will be suited to under foot conditions and Skardu looks to have lots of potential. Emaraaty Ana could run to a place.

1st Ten Sovereigns
2nd Magna Grecia
3rd Skardu
4th Emaraaty Ana

The Rein It In Racing team have been in cracking form all week at Punchestown and here are our selections –

Luke- Madhmoon

Killian – Great Scot e/w

Lois – Skardu

Niamh – Skardu / Magna Grecia

Max – Great Scot / Ten Sovereigns

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