Sky Sports Racing presenter Mike Cattermole casts his expert eye over the 15 runners for the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, featuring hot favourite Native Trail.
It’s an unusual Qipco 2000 Guineas this year as there are no sons of Galileo in the line-up.
However, there are three unbeaten contenders, Native Trail, Checkandchallenge and Light Infantry and three Irish challengers from Aidan O’Brien and Jim Bolger who both have plenty of form in this great Classic, especially 10-time winner O’Brien.
It’s going to be run on fast ground again and 12 months ago, those drawn low over on the far side had a distinct advantage.
Native Trail could not have had a worse draw (15/15) and it will be fascinating to see how connections plan to overcome this. If he can do it, he will prove himself a brilliant colt.
Jockey: Jason Watson; Trainer: Andrew Balding
Won the Coventry Stakes and then took second behind Angel Bleu in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood. Didn’t appear to have any excuses when fourth and over four lengths behind Native Trail in the Dewhurst, although he did deliver his challenge up the centre. Should stay a mile.
Kevin Manning; Jim Bolger
You can never underestimate anything that Jim Bolger runs in a 2000 Guineas, having won it twice in the past nine years. However, it took this colt five tries to win his maiden and that came over 10 furlongs at Leopardstown last time, although he had been touched off over seven on his previous start at the Curragh.
Entered in many big races ahead and clearly highly thought of, but hard to fancy to win this on what he has achieved so far.
Danny Tudhope; William Knight
Intriguing contender who is unbeaten in two All-Weather starts, at Wolverhampton last November and then, very takingly, in the Listed Burradon Stakes over a mile at Newcastle. Demonstrated gears that day as he came from off the pace to comfortably beat two very useful types in Dubai Port and Imperial Fighter who were both placed behind Coroebus in Group Three company at two.
Makes his turf debut in very deep waters but hard to know how good he may be.
James Doyle; Charlie Appleby
Easy to get excited by this Dubai colt who showed a blistering turn of foot in the Royal Lodge Stakes over this course and distance only to wilt and get caught close home by Royal Patronage.
Made no mistake the next time in the Autumn Stakes when he again showed how comfortably he can travel off the pace and utilise that change of gear. A draw over on the far side is no bad thing and if he can relax and get played late, then he probably has all the tools to go close here.
William Buick has ridden him on all three of his starts and stays loyal to Native Trail but that is understandable. Native Trail has form in the book, this fellow has all the potential. Big player.
Tom Marquand; Hugo Palmer
Created a big impression with an emphatic debut win at Doncaster but didn’t build on it when a well-held third to Royal Patronage in the Acomb at York.
A second in the Dewhurst, two lengths behind Native Trail, was more like it before a poor show in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in Del Mar. Should stay a mile but has to find some improvement.
David Egan; Roger Varian
Sure to take the eye in the paddock, he stepped up on his two starts as a juvenile by taking the Feilden Stakes over nine furlongs here at Newmarket with something in hand. No Feilden winner has gone on to take the Guineas since that race was first run in 1978. However, he looks a lovely prospect.
Jamie Spencer; David Simcock
Unbeaten in both his starts at two, the second of them in the Group Three Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury. There is nothing special about that form but going up to a mile should suit him. Clearly has some improvement to come but he needs to take a big step forward here to get involved.
Pat Dobbs; Richard Hannon
A smart colt who landed the July Stakes at Newmarket and Gimcrack at York last summer, both over six furlongs. A creditable second to Perfect Power in the Greenham at Newbury showed that he has trained on but there are doubts on pedigree about his being as effective over a mile, never mind improving for it.
Ryan Moore; Aidan O’Brien
Bids to give Aidan O’Brien an astonishing 11th win in the Guineas and all of those successes have been achieved without a prep run. Last seen putting in a workmanlike performance to take the Vertem Futurity at Doncaster on soft last October.
Had been more impressive on good ground in the Beresford at the Curragh, showing a burst of acceleration to take him from last to first, albeit with a slightly high head carriage.
Clearly one to take seriously but he may blossom over further.
William Buick; Charlie Appleby
Unbeaten in five starts, including two on this course and a dual Group One winner at two, he ticks many boxes for this.
Way too speedy for Port Lonsdale in the National Stakes at the Curragh last September, he followed up in the Dewhurst (Dubawi Legend second, Berkshire Shadow fourth) after hitting a bit of a flat spot.
That was evident again as he stepped up to a mile in the Craven Stakes on his reappearance but, as before, he hit the line very strongly as he engaged top gear and stormed up the hill. An imposing individual, he is strongly fancied to give Charlie Appleby and William Buick an overdue first Guineas.
Very much the downside, however, is his draw – he is 15/15, right on the stands’ side wing and those drawn high last year on similar ground were never able to land a blow. A dilemma for connections.
Christophe Soumillon; Richard Fahey
Through no fault of his own, had no luck in running at Goodwood last July. Paul Hanagan was blamed and replaced subsequently by Christophe Soumillon, who is three out of three on him since.
Like Native Trail, a dual Group One winner at two – in the Prix Morny at Deauville and the Middle Park, when he sluiced through the field and showed that the dips of the Rowley Mile were no issue for him on good to firm ground.
Came back to win the Greenham at Newbury in straightforward style when said to be far from fully wound up.
Assuming he gets a mile – and there is plenty of stamina on his dam’s side – he looks set to run a massive race.
Frankie Dettori; Aidan O’Brien
Lost his unbeaten record to Native Trail in the National Stakes last September and not seen since, this full brother to Broome is sure to improve as he goes up to a mile and promises to be even better when he tackles middle distances. This looks like being his Derby trial.
Jason Hart; Mark Johnston
Much to admire about the way he dug deep to reel in Coroebus in the Royal Lodge over this course and distance, his last run in the Vertem Futurity at Doncaster can be ignored as he was struck into behind.
Said to have been working well but looks sure to come into his own when he tackles middle distances.
Sean Levey; Richard Hannon
Steps up to a mile which ought to suit him, but he was second in the Free Handicap on his reappearance and held by Light Infantry at two. Hard to see him being involved.
The Wizard Of Eye
John Egan; John Moore
Very useful and the most exposed runner in the line-up who also has to prove his stamina. Easy to overlook.
Mike Cattermole’s verdict:
Until the draw was revealed, Native Trail seemed to have everything going for him but 15/15 is definitely a negative unless the drainage patterns have altered in the past 12 months. He is hugely respected and may be able to overcome the issue, but his stablemate Coroebus has the better draw and looks set to go very close as he looks a natural miler.
However, the choice is PERFECT POWER to deliver a first Guineas for both Richard Fahey and Christophe Soumillon. He has done nothing wrong, won two Group Ones at two, has course experience and shaped as though a mile would be no issue at Newbury. That is backed up by the dam’s side of his pedigree. He is expected to come on for that run, too. He looks value at around 10/1.