An Early Look At The 2,000 Guineas

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An Early Look At The 2,000 Guineas

As the Jumps season draws to a close, the new flat turf season has already dawned but will officially open up for business when the 2,000 Guineas takes centre stage in under two weeks time.

The opening Classic of the campaign will be played out on Newmarket's Rowley Mile course over the mile distance, which acts as the opening leg of the Colt's Triple Crown; followed by the Epsom Derby and the St Leger at Doncaster.

The curtain raiser of the freshly new campaign, the champion and standout two-year-old's of the previous term usually meet and clash here - although many may arrive off the back of a trial in the Craven or the Greenham, or in fact any other seven-eight furlong novice event in the off-season.

Any horse who wins over a distance close to a mile in a decent affair (novice/conditions etc), usually throw their name into the hat for this prestigious contest, which is one of the highlights over eight furlongs in the entire season.

The starting point for many in their career to make a name for themselves, it usually provides us with individuals to follow on their respective paths if we did not know them already.

The race has been the birth-point for many subsequent stars, none more so than the great Frankel who went to Suffolk for the second time on a five-race unbeaten run, after victory in the Greenham on his first start as a three-year-old.

Frankel went onto establish himself as one of the greatest horses of all time, as he bashed up everyone over the retained mile distance. He ended his career the undisputed champion of the world when succeeding first-time over ten furlongs in the Champion Stakes, retiring with a crown on his head for the late great Sir Henry Cecil.

Frankel Foals racing

Last year, Saxon Warrior followed up his victory in the now-named Vertem Futurity Stakes at Doncaster as a two-year-old, and went onto have many memorable clashes with John Gosden's Roaring Lion over a further distance.

If not continuing to race over a mile, many see the 2,000 Guineas as a real stepping stone for a horse's future, and can begin to build their racing profiles.

The big news in the lead-up to the meeting this year has been over the exclusion of Champion Juvenile Too Darn Hot, who was ruled out of the Greenham and the Guineas over injury concerns, although John Gosden may target the Dewhurst winner at the Irish equivalent.

This was also the case for last season's Champion Trainer, as his Coventry Stakes winner Calyx was part of huge gamble for this race but was subsequently pulled out last week.

However he will be making his first start in ten months when he heads to post at Ascot On Wednesday in the Group 3 Commanwealth Cup Trial Stakes.

The son of Kingman does have a touch of class about him, and prevailed here on the July Course last June in a Novice event. He was a leading player, but now stablemates Almashriq and Kick On look likely to go for the trainer, along with Hugo Palmer's Set Piece who sports the same colours as Calyx in the Prince Khalid Abdullah silks.

He was third on return in the Craven Stakes not too long ago, which ended his unbeaten run, but perhaps he will come on from that and will now be fully equipped with the knowledge of Newmarket's bumpy contours.

Calyx

Set Piece was beaten by William Haggas' Skardu - who is two from two in his career, with both wins coming at Newmarket, and has obvious claims.

Aidan O'Brien is a man to be feared wherever he goes, and will send a strong team to Suffolk as he bids for a fourth win in this race in the last five years.

Ten Sovereigns and Magna Grecia look to be his two big dangers - the former who is unbeaten in three, won the Group One Middle Park Stakes here last September, and will look to make a successful transition up to a mile.

Magna Grecia was second to Persian King in the Group Three Autumn Stakes over a mile here in October - a horse trained by Andre Fabre who may well head for the French Guineas instead.

The son of Invincible Spirit made amends for his first career defeat when coming out and winning the Group One Vertem Futurity Stakes at Doncaster - as he seeks to follow the same path as last year's winner Saxon Warrior.

O'Brien will also be excited over the prospects of Anthony Van Dyck, who won a couple of nice group races last season and will relish the eventual step-up to further - hint hint the Derby.

Japan and Norway are others who are already prominent in the market for Team Ballydoyle in the Classics down the line at Epsom and at Doncaster.

Saxon Warrior

As for Godolphin, they would have been disappointed with the outcome of Royal Marine when he made his return to the UK in the Craven.

The French Group One winner did have a troubled passage, and did show a bit more life than his lacklustre defeat on the dirt in Meydan back in January.

The boys in blue may also be represented by Charlie Appleby duo Line Of Duty and Zakouski - the former who won the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs in November, whilst Zakouski made a smart debut at Kempton in November, but could not adapt to the first-time switch to turf.

The Hamdan Al Maktoum charge are lead by Simon Crisford's Jash. He was only half-a-length behind Ten Sovereigns here last September, which brought an end to his unbeaten run, but a mile looks very suited to his chances.

Madhmoon is the other for Kevin Prendergast, and although he was beaten on his return to the track at Leopardstown, it was over seven and it would have brushed away any cobwebs. A return to the mile will certainly bring about his best, leaving the question as to whether he is the best here.

Advertise is surely the last but not least candidate to touch on in depth. Martyn Meade's colt rapidly improved last term, and was only denied by Calyx by a close margin in the Coventry, and by Guineas absentee and standout figure Too Darn Hot in the Dewhurst.

He has never really disappointed his connections with his runs, and got a deserved victory at the top level when taking the Group One Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh in August.

The 2,000 Guineas takes place at 3:35pm at Newmarket on the 4th of May.

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