Guineas weekend (Newmarket) is fast-approaching and the dates for your diary are Saturday May 5th (2000 Guineas) and Sunday May 6th (1000 Guineas). These are the first 2 Classic races of the British racing season. This is where the flat campaign really gets into top gear!
2000 Guineas Stakes
While open to both colts and fillies, this is essentially a race for colts while the fillies compete in the 1000 Guineas. The 2000 Guineas is a 1-mile event and run over the straight ‘Rowley Mile’ course. There is a £500,000 purse on offer, although the prestige of winning greatly outweighs this figure.
Churchill, trained by Aidan O’Brien, won the race in 2017. O’ Brien first won the race with King Of Kings, back in 1998. Churchill was his 8th 2000 Guineas winner and his 2nd in 3 years (Gleneagles won in 2015). Unsurprisingly, colts at his yard are among the favourites to land the 2018 renewal. Let’s take a look at some of the fancied runners, that are already attracting bets in our ante-post market.
Gustav Klimt (IRE)
Age: 3 (Foaled March 28th, 2015), Sex: Bay Colt, Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – Massarra (Danehill (USA)), Trainer: A P O’Brien, Owner: Mrs John Magnier & Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith
He made a fairly disappointing debut, at The Curragh, dwelling at the start and requiring Ryan Moore’s urgings from halfway just to stay in touch. Gustav Klimt finished the race in 5th place and was not making ground, as they passed the winning-post.
Despite this, the Galileo colt was still made favourite when he returned to the same track in July. Moore did need to push him along, but he proved too good for Would Be King and won comfortably. O’Brien then sent him across the Irish Sea for the Superlative Stakes. He was hampered in this race, but showed true grit by recovering and beating Nebo by a head.
Back in Ireland, he then took on stablemates Kenya and U S Navy Flag in the 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes. However, neither horse could lay a glove on him and only Dermot Weld’s Imaging was able to keep him honest. Gustav Klimt got his nose in front with about 50 yards left to travel and held-on strongly.
The colt has now had 4 outings and Ryan Moore has been on-board, every time. O’Brien told reporters that his top jockey is enjoying the partnership.
“We’re very happy. Obviously the ground was far from ideal, but it was nice to get a run into him as it’s a long time since he ran. Ryan was very happy with him,” said O’Brien. Ryan said he was very impressed with the way he quickened in that ground. He’s a real good-ground horse. Newmarket (2000 Guineas) is the plan, if everything is well.”
Saxon Warrior (JPN)
Age: 3 (Foaled January 26th, 2015), Sex: Bay Colt, Breeding: Deep Impact (JPN) – Maybe (IRE) (Galileo (IRE)), Trainer: A P O’Brien, Owner: Mr D Smith, Mrs J Magnier, Mr M Tabor
Unlike Gustav Klimt, Saxon Warrior will not have a prep-race before the Guineas but his 3 outings in 2017 indicate that this Deep Impact colt should enjoy a fantastic Classic campaign.
In his debut at The Curragh, he was expected to play second-fiddle to stablemate Christopher Robin, but that horse barely turned-up and Saxon Warrior won comfortably. The likes of Kew Gardens and Delano Roosevelt went into the stalls with him, for the Beresford Stakes at Naas, but neither could live with Saxon Warrior’s pace and he won without being fully-extended.
His final race of 2017 (and the last time we saw him on the track) was in the Racing Post Trophy. This time he certainly was up against a worthy adversary, in the shape of Roaring Lion and it looked like John Gosden’s star juvenile was going to come out on top as he took the lead in the closing stages. Roaring Lion hung left though and Saxon Warrior snatched 1st-place in the closing strides.
“He’s going straight to the Guineas at the moment, unless something changes. He’s coming, he has a good bit to do still, but he’s coming. He’s a big, powerful horse.” said O’Brien last month and it will be a huge surprise, should there be any change of plan.
Age: 3 (Foaled April 16th, 2015), Sex: Chestnut Colt, Breeding: New Approach (IRE) – Khawlah (IRE) (Cape Cross (IRE)), Trainer: C Appleby, Owner: Godolphin
Won on debut at Goodwood, beating Invincible Army by a short-head. Was outpaced in the Chesham, although did rally at the end to claim 3rd place, then put in a polished performance in the Solario Stakes to beat Romanised fairly comfortably.
Charlie Appleby then took Masar on tour, although he failed to shine at Chantilly, Del Mar and Meydan. Wintering in Dubai clearly did the New Approach colt the world of good, however, as he was scintillating in Thursday’s Craven Stakes. Roaring Lion was the red-hot favourite, but Masar won the race by 9 lengths and looked very-much like a potential Classic winner.
“I knew he was 100 per-cent ready, as he’d done fantastically well over the winter. It was never my intention to run him in Dubai, but he was going too well and so I wanted to get a bit of gas out of him and put some manners on him. If he had adapted to the dirt, we could have gone UAE Derby and if not it still put a run under his belt and so if this came down to a dogfight fitness was going to be his edge. He quickened twice and has got stronger, but we always said he was going to be a 3-year-old and he’s got the pedigree to do that. The Guineas route is foremost in our minds now.” a delighted Appleby told reporters, following Masar’s commanding victory.
Could the trainer snatch his first 2000 Guineas success, at Newmarket next month?
Recent 2000 Guineas Champions
Some terrific horses have won the 2000 Guineas and recent years have served-up worthy champions. Churchill’s win last year came off the back of a stunning juvenile campaign that saw him land the Chesham Stakes, the Tyros Stakes, the Futurity Stakes, the National Stakes and the Dewhurst Stakes. As a 3-year-old, he also won the Irish 2000 Guineas.
The 2016 winner was the Hugo Palmer-trained Galileo Gold. It was expected to be a walk in the park for Aidan O’Brien’s Air Force Blue, but that horse never got going and it was left to Galileo Gold to fight it out with Massaat who was outpaced at the business end of the contest. Galileo Gold confirmed his class, by winning the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Gleneagles was named Cartier Champion 2-year-old Colt, after scooping the Tyros Stakes, the Futurity Stakes and the National Stakes (he was also first past the post in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, but was later disqualified. His Guineas victory was by a couple of lengths from Territories, in a contest that saw the field split into 2 groups. Gleneagles went on to win both the Irish 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes, before being sent to the Coolmore Stud. His progeny are eagerly awaited, by the racing public.
1000 Guineas Stakes
The first fillies’ Classic of the campaign was first run in 1814, 5 years after the 2000 Guineas was introduced. The inaugural winner was Charlotte, who would go on to claim the Stamford Gold Cup in the following year – a 4-mile encounter!
Aidan O’Brien has only won the 1000 Guineas 4 times, but his recent record is an ominous one for his peers as he saddled the champion in both 2016 (Minding) and 2017 (Winter). Mos pundits expect him to make it 3 in a row. Here are 3 fillies that punters have been backing.
Age: 3 (Foaled February 27th, 2015), Sex: Bay Filly, Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – You’resothrilling (USA) (Storm Cat (USA)), Trainer: A P O’Brien, Owner: Mr D Smith, Mrs J Magnier, Mr M Tabor
O’Brien gave her a heavy workload, as a 2-year-old, racing her on no less than 7 occasions. After an uninspiring debut at Leopardstown, she then beat Shalailah at The Curragh and put that filly to the sword again in the Silver Flash Stakes.
Happily was beaten by stablemate Magical, in the Debutante Stakes, but reversed the form in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and was then sent to France for the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere Grand Criterium at Chantilly. It looked like plans had gone awry, as the horses straightened up for the run-in, with Happily unable to find room but Ryan Moore remained patient and found a gap inside the final furlong. With a clear run, Happily would surely have won by a bigger margin.
Her final race came at Del Mar, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. She was slowly away and although she passed several good horses the door was firmly shut on her as they rounded the final bend.
Her chances of landing the 1000 Guineas received a huge boost when O’Brien conceded that Clemmie is unlikely to be ready for the big weekend at Headquarters.
Age: 3 (Foaled February 17th, 2015), Sex: Bay Filly, Breeding: Frankel – Infallible (Pivotal), Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute, Owner: Cheveley Park Stud
Sir Michael Stoute’s filly has only run twice and both outings were under Ryan Moore, who will of course be firmly in Aidan O’Brien’s camp for the Guineas.
Veracious flashed her tail, on debut at Newbury and like Ed Dunlop’s Melodies was outpaced by the unfancied Magnolia Springs. It was still a pleasing-enough opening display and she looked to have made excellent progress, when beating Winter Lightning by 4 lengths in the Godolphin Under Starters Orders Maiden Fillies’ Stakes at Newmarket in October.
Sir Michael has a worthy replacement jockey lined-up, for the 1000 Guineas. Frankie Dettori will be given steering-duties and the pair have already enjoyed an encouraging gallop session at Newmarket.
“Frankie was very happy with her. She’s a nice filly. She won her maiden here well, and I think she has developed very pleasingly. We’ll run her (in the Guineas) and Frankie will ride her. I did have her in the Nell Gwyn, but I thought that (racecourse gallop) would be more beneficial.” said the trainer, afterwards.
Dettori was also impressed, saying “It was the first time I’d ridden her and she’s fit and well. She gave me a decent feel and it’s an open Guineas now.”.
This will be a huge step-up for a filly who has yet to race in Listed or Group company though and Sir Michael’s last 1000 Guineas victory came with Russian Rhythm back in 2003.
Age: 3 (Foaled March 15th, 2015), Sex: Grey Filly, Breeding: Mastercraftsman (IRE) – Militante (IRE) (Johannesburg (USA)), Trainer: A Fabre, Owner: D Smith/mrs J Magnier/m Tabor
Andre Fabre’s Mastercraftsman-sired colt raced just once as a 2-year-old and it seems clear that the trainer believed that the grey could be something quite special, as he pitched her straight into a Listed encounter. This debut saw her beating the highly-rated Louis D’or and Fabre decided that would be her only juvenile outing.
She made her seasonal reappearance in the Grade 3 La Grotte (Longchamp), alongside Aidan O’Brien’s Magical. However, neither horse performed well and the race was won by Wind Chimes’ stablemate, Musis Amica. Magical finished 4th, while Wind Chimes (who didn’t get the best of starts) managed only 5th.
“She had a lot of other options but I thought that Longchamp would suit her well. She has a big long stride and a big action and she has the pedigree for that [to stay further].”
Wind Chimes had received significant market-support for the Guineas, before the race at Longchamp, but you’ll now be able to back her at significantly longer odds. Was she just under-cooked and in need of the run? We’ll find out at Newmarket, if Fabre hasn’t already decided that his filly isn’t yet up to such a task.
Recent 1000 Guineas Champions
Winter (the 2017 winner), who didn’t impress particularly as a 2-year-old, was sent to Aidan O’Brien’s yard at the end of the campaign due to the retirement of David Wachman. She finished 2nd in the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes but, despite some market-support, could still be backed at 10/1 just before the English 1000 Guineas went under starter’s orders. However Winter never looked in danger of defeat and her 3-year-old campaign was a huge success. She won the Irish 1000 Guineas, the Coronation Stakes and the Nassau Stakes.
Few would argue that the 2016 champion wan’t among the best 1000 Guineas winners in the modern era. Minding won both the Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Fillies’ Mile, which led to her becoming Cartier Champion Two-year-old Filly and Top-rated European 2-year-old Filly. Her Classic campaign was even more astounding. She crushed Ballydoyle by over 3 lengths in the Guineas and then ran amok – helping herself to the Epsom Oaks, the Pretty Polly Stakes, the Nassau Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Minding was named Cartier Champion 3-year-old Filly, 2016 Cartier Horse of the Year, 2016 Irish Horse of the Year and World top-rated 3-year-old Filly. Her rating of 122 puts her on level terms with the great Songbird.
Sired by Danehill Dancer, Legatissimo failed to cut the mustard as a juvenile and 4th place in the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes didn’t suggest the Winter had been of much help to her. Ryan Moore was put on her back for the Guineas though and she was a filly transformed. Her winning time of 1:34.60 was the 2nd-fastest in the race’s history and a full second quicker than Gleneagles 2000 Guineas victory. She went on to win the Nassau Stakes and the Matron Stakes, before being named Cartier Champion Three-year-old Filly.
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