2000 and 1000 Guineas Preview

10 will go to post in Saturday’s Qipco 2000 Guineas which will see the smallest field since 1988. What is lacking in quantity is more than made up for in quality with the top 4 in the market all coming into the race with exceedingly lofty reputations.

CHURCHILL, a winner at Royal Ascot last year, has been favourite for the race since September and connections are extremely bullish that this son of Galileo will give Aidan O’Brien a record 8th win in the race. He has not been seen yet in 2017 but the lack of a ‘trial’ run shouldn’t worry favourite backers. 9 of the past 12 winners of the 2000 Guineas have been making their seasonal reappearance. However, it is worth noting that the same connections came into this race last year believing that hot favourite Air Force Blue (4-5 FAV) could not be beaten; he only beat one home…

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Richard Hannon Jnr took over from his father at the end of 2013 and subsequently won the 2000 Guineas in his first full year with a trainer’s license when Night Of Thunder sprung a shock at 40/1. This year he comes back to Racing's HQ with high hopes of winning this race again, this time in the shape of BARNEY ROY (4/1). Bought by Godolphin following a hugely taking debut in September, he confirmed his capabilities when storming clear of DREAM CASTLE to win the 7 furlong Greenham Stakes by 2 lengths, producing the 3rd quickest ever time in the race. Frankel was the last horse to use the Greenham Stakes as a springboard for Guineas success and Hannon will be hoping this son of Excelebration can do the same. Barney Roy really quickened in the final furlong of the Greenham, giving the impression that the extra furlong test that the 2000 Guineas offers will play to his strengths. Interestingly, Barney Roy has the highest timefigure rating of any horse in the race despite being 7lbs short of Churchill on official ratings.

French raider, AL WUKAIR (9/2) is another unbeaten colt who boasts very strong credentials. He shot to the top-end of the market after coming from last to first in an excellent renewal of the Prix Djebel at Maisons Lafitte at the beginning of April. Of the leading 4 contenders, he looks the most out-and-out miler with a potent turn of foot. Trainer Andre Fabre will therefore be hoping that the gallop on Saturday isn’t too frantic meaning he can maximise his acceleration. Andre Fabre certainly isn't scared of the opposition and has claimed that the Al Shaqab owned colt will be in the first 3 home. Having trained the winner of this race twice (Zafonic, 1993 & Pennekamp, 1995), ignore Monsieur Fabre at your peril.

EMINENT (5/1) is the 4th horse in the betting at 5/1 having run down his rivals in the Craven Stakes over the Guineas Course & Distance. Ridden by Champion Jockey and Racing Breaks ambassador Jim Crowley and trained by part-time businessman Martyn Meade, Eminent looks sure to need every yard of this 1 mile trip with the trainer describing it as the “absolute minimum distance he wants”. He is by Frankel and shares a lot of characteristics with the legendary horse and he could become the first of his progeny to win a classic. Unlike Al Wukair, a fast pace will be needed to see him at his best but if, on Saturday, he is in contention entering the last furlong, he will be a tough horse to beat.

VERDICT: In what looks a 2000 Guineas rammed full of quality, it will take a brave man to back Churchill at 11/8. Whatever Eminent achieves on Saturday, he will be even more effective when stepped up in trip and he looks one to follow over middle-distances this season. But the selection is Barney Roy. The way he quickened and strode away from Dream Castle on only his 2nd ever start was eye-catching and the predicted good-to-firm going  will be right up his street.

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The 1000 Guineas, the second classic flat race of the year, a race is for three year old fillies which is run over one mile at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile. This is where we can get really excited about the year!

This years 1000 Guineas is really heating up and it’s looking to be a very strong field making for a highly competitive race! So let’s look at how the last few years have looked, starting with successful jockeys Ryan Moore has won the race for the last two years in a row and total of three years, matching Frankie Dettori who has also won it three times. Both have massive chances in this years race with Frankie down to ride two of John Gosden’s horse and I assume Ryan will also have a choice to make for which one of Aidans horses he will ride! John Gosden has only ever won the race once whereas Aidan has won it three times making him much more experienced for the race. If you were to go off these stats you would think Aidana and Ryan may have this in the bag! The breeding is also on their side with Galileo being a leading sire of the race.

The stats may tell one story but from what we have seen so far DABAN and DABYAH they are both huge chances, with DABAN running an incredible race at Newmarket recently she is for sure my favourite of the race. DABYAH has won 3 of her 4 starts though and looks to only be improving, Frankie has a tough decision to make and not one I envy!

Now the rest of the field will not let this be a walkover by any means, another big chance for me has to be UNFORGETABLE FILLY, she ran well at Newmarket last time out and would be a great each way bet with a great price too. A lot of people are talking about about TALAAYEB too although we haven’t got much to go on with only 1 run and a win from that. Second favourite in the race currently is FAIR EVA and it’s easy to see why, the daughter of FRANKEL has an impressive form.

Verdict- I would be backing UNFORGETABLE FILLY each way, and DABAN.

Top Tip- Remember when the ground is fast at Newmarket it is very rare a big outside chance comes in. Look out for any horses looking well in the paddock too.

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Samantha Hills