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Thursday, 1 May 2014

2000 Guineas Preview

The first Classic of the season, the 2,000 Guineas, is not renowned for throwing up long-priced winners, but Makfi (33/1) and Cockney Rebel (25/1) have been successful since 2004. All but five of the entries for this year’s renewal, due off at 3.50 p.m. on Saturday, May 3, are available at odds of 16/1 or longer in the ante post lists, so an upset is not totally out of the question.

The first of those at longer odds to take the eye is Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner, Outstrip, who is available at 28/1, in a place, in the ante post lists. The Exceed And Excel colt has 2¾ lengths to find with War Command on their running in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket last October and a neck to find with Toormore on their running in the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes at Goodwood earlier last season, but both those races were over 7 furlongs.

Despite being sired by a sprinter, the Rowley Mile promises to bring out the best in him and, considering that both Toormore and War Command are available at single-figure prices, he looks massively overpriced. Indeed, The Grey Gatsby, whom he beat by 3 lengths in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last September, finished second, beaten just 2 lengths, behind Toormore in the Craven Stakes over course and distance on his reappearance at Newmarket.

Lester Piggott’s son-in-law, William Haggas, has never won the 2,000 Guineas, but has trained 12 3-year-old winners from 32 runners already this season and probably knows that 3-year-old form as well as anyone. Bearing that in mind, it’s perhaps a little surprising that his Oasis Dream colt Ertijaal can be backed at 40/1 in places.

Admittedly, he would be an unusual 2,000 Guineas winner insofar that he has yet to win a Group race of any kind and he has only been workmanlike in winning both starts over 7 furlongs on the Polytrack at Lingfield so far this season. He is currently officially rated 17lb inferior to Toormore, despite having been beaten just a neck by Richard Hannon’s charge in a maiden, over 6 furlongs, at Leicester on his debut last May, so probably needs to improve. However, that’s by no means out of the question after just four career starts and he’s another for whom a realistic case can be made at generous odds.

It’s been 23 years since Mystiko completed the European Free Handicap – 2,000 Guineas double, so the statistics don’t favour Shifting Power, who won the former race in a bunch finish on the Rowley Mile. He also appears to be Richard Hannon’s third string, if the ante post market is to be believed, but the one bookmaker offering 50/1 about an unbeaten, well-bred colt may be taking a chance.

Of course, any one of the front five in the market could win and the chances are that one of them will, but that’s not what this column is all about. Our three against the field, in order of preference, are:

Outstrip (28/1 with William Hill)
Ertijaal (40/1 with 888 Sport)
Shifting Power (50/1 with Bet Bright)

Win or lose, enjoy the race and good luck!

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