02nd May 2014

The QIPCO 2000 Guineas – a last minute guide

Australia - Very much the ‘hype’ horse of the race following reports of strong home work over the winter. If we are to believe the reports from Coolmore he could very well be one if not the best horse they have ever had and he  has the pedigree to support that statement, out of the international super mare Ouija Board and by leading stallion Galileo. He was beaten a quarter of a length on debut having been very slow away, however he made amends next time out over the same course and distance. He followed up that success with a scintillating performance in a 1 mile Group 3 at Leopardstown leaving well regarded and one time Derby favourite Free Eagle looking average at top of the straight with an electric turn of foot.

Kingman - On form the one to beat. First impressions count, and this colt certainly left punters dreaming of big things following a 6 length demolish of his maiden field at Newmarket's July Course. We only saw him once more after that with a comfy success over three rivals in the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown. He was due to take up an engagement in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on Arc day however knee problems caused interference with his training and trainer John Gosden called an end to his season. Any concerns due to that problem were firmly laid to rest in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury with what was a Frankel-like performance, powering clear of his opposition. No surprise to hear people comparing him to the great Frankel following that success.

Toormore - Last season’s Champion 2yo Colt following an unbeaten season with successes in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh. Connections had a change of heart about running plans and decided to give him a prep race in the Group 3 Craven Stakes over the same course and distance as the Guineas. He rewarded them with a 2 length success under Ryan Moore, filling in for the sidelined Richard Hughes, giving runner up The Grey Gatsby 3lb. Richard Hannon Jnr will be hoping he can provide him with a first classic winner in his first season as a fully licensed trainer.

War Command - Another from the Aidan O’Brien yard but by no means a “second string”. If  anything he has stronger form than Australia. A surprise 6 length winner of the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot at 20/1 last season. He then followed that up with disappointing display the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh only managing 3rd that day however got back to winning ways in a Group 2 and ended the season winning Europe’s Premier Juvenile race, The Group 1 Dewhurst.

Kingston Hill - This horse provides a family rivalry in the race, owned by Paul Smith, son of Derek Smith, joint owner of Australia. I’m sure there has been many a discussion over the dinner table comparing these two. Unlike some of his rivals he is not the most flashy - often niggled along in his races before staying on strongly. His win in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster makes him one of only 4 Group 1 winners in the field. There is no doubt he will improve with a step up in distance and i am sure connections have half an eye on the Investec Derby but as has been proved in recent years this race is often the best trial.

Noozhoh Canarias - The first ever Spanish runner in the race, he was a comfortable winner of his first three starts in Spain before being pitched again some of the best in Europe the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, the soft ground that day is thought not to have suited him so to only be beaten three quarter of a length was a very pleasing effort. He remains somewhat an unknown quantity and could very much take advantage if others fail to perform.

Others worth a mention are Outstrip for the Godolphin team who rounded off last season with a win the the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf, he has some work to do to turn around the form with both Toormore and War Command however it would be no surprise to see him finish in the frame especially if the ground was to quicken up. Night of Thunder was the subject of positive vibes at the start of the season although a four and half-lengths beating by Kingman in the Greenham leaves him with plenty to find.

Stable companion Shifting Power remains unbeaten following his success in the Free Handicap at the Craven meeting in which he showed great battling qualities in being headed and getting back up on the line to win by a head. On that running the step up to a mile does not looking like it should be a problem and like many has a strong each way chance. The final horse to give a mention to is Ertijaal, winner of the All-Weather 3 Year Old Championship he hasn’t followed the conversional trial route however that is no reason for him to be dismissed.

A highly competitive race and you can make a case for many of these, I am of the opinion that Kingman is very much the one to beat however have fallen into the Australia camp having been very taken with final run of last season. With one of the finest pedigrees you will see on a racecourse combined with the master trainer Aidan O’Brien having him trained to the minute, there is a possibility he could very much fulfil the hype. If I was looking for some value in the race, 25/1 about a Group 1 winner seem generous so it would have to be Outstrip.