QIPCO 2000 Guineas Preview, Trends, Tips
Spring has barely sprung, and yet the first of the five British Classics, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, is upon us. Run over the straight Rowley Mile course at Newmarket, it is a race which rarely fails to uncover a top class miler.
Even the three 2000 Guineas winners since 1997 to return at odds of 25/1 or more went on to win (Makfi, Cockney Rebel) or run second multiple times (Night Of Thunder) in mile Group 1’s.
QIPCO 2000 Guineas Trends
Historically, the 2000 Guineas has not been an easy race to peg from a trends perspective, as one might expect of a race with so many unexposed improving types.
However, there are a few morsels to inform or perhaps at least entertain when poring over recent renewals. Data largely courtesy of horseracebase.com
14 of the last 18 winners also won their previous race. The other four Guineas winners since 1997 were 2nd (two) and 3rd (two). The 73 horses (23% of runners) to have been off the podium last time managed just seven of 54 places between them (13% of placed horses).
Of the eight winners to have a pre-race official rating, none was lower than 109. That includes 40/1 Night Of Thunder (109) and 25/1 Cockney Rebel (115). Ten horses came to the race and won, without having been rated beforehand.
12 of the last 18 winners (67%) of the 2000 Guineas were making their seasonal débuts, from 45% of the runners.
Every winner since 1991 was bred from a stallion with a sire index of at least the Guineas trip (thanks to Gavin at nagnagnag for this nugnugnugget). Ivawood, Estishkaar, and Kool Kompany are just three of this year’s field to fall down on that factoid.
QIPCO 2000 Guineas Form Preview
Before going into the form, let us make a note of a material difference in the way the race will be run this year. The stalls will, for the first time, be positioned against the near (stands) side rail, with a cutaway a quarter mile from the finish designed to allow the horses to fan out.
The intention is to prevent the common and frustrating occurrence of a split field, whilst doing everything possible to avoid hard luck stories against the rail.
John Gosden had previously gone on record in support of the change, and Ryan Moore has more recently voiced his antipathy for it, citing the possibility of a draw bias. My suspicion is that, with most of the pacier horses drawn low to middle, they may not actually race that close to the rail. And, in any case, surely the split fields of years gone by led to a draw bias, manifested through pace on one side of the track or the other.
This is probably the first time I’ve ever taken issue with something Ryan Moore has said, and obviously he may be proven correct before the weekend is out. For me, I think it’s a good idea, and ought to make for a fair race. We’ll see.
The 3/1 favourite is Gleneagles, the first of a pair of Ballydoyle entries, and the mount of Moore. Drawn 16 of 19, he’ll be close enough to the rail and his versatile run style implies there will be no excuses for him. On form, he’s achieved a similar amount to Elm Park and Ivawood, winning the last five of six juvenile races, albeit he was disqualified in France on his final run.
That was in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere over seven furlongs, and it was a second successive seven furlong Group 1 prize after he’s won the National Stakes at the Curragh comfortably. His rating at the end of the season was 116, and his form may have plateau’d at around that level.
Certainly, with six starts on the board already, he’s less scope than many of his rivals, notwithstanding that he’s achieved more already than most ever will. He is a likely contender, and fast ground looks right up his street, but he’s not interesting at the price.
Second in most betting lists is the other O’Brien entry, Ol’ Man River. He’s a twice raced, twice winning son of Montjeu out of dual 1000 Guineas winner, Finsceal Beo. That breeding led the Coolmore squad to go to €2.85 million at the sales, and they might get that back in stud fees in a single year if Ol’ Man River can bag either the Guineas or the Derby. On breeding, that sensational double is far from impossible for the facile winner of the Group 2 Beresford Stakes.
He’s not rated far behind Gleneagles but has lots more scope to progress and, if it wasn’t for the fact that Moore had opted for the jolly, I’d actually prefer this lad’s chance. Certainly he’s more appealing at twice the price, as one would imagine he’d be favourite if Moore had sided with him.
Behind Gleneagles in the Lagardere was a slightly unlucky Territories. Andre Fabre’s son of Invincible Spirit took the rail route that day and was sufficiently tightened up for the stewards to take down Gleneagles, and award Full Mast the race; Territories was promoted to second with the Joseph O’Brien ridden first past the post placed third.
But that is a hard line of form to fathom. The first five home were split by just one length, and the first eight home by four lengths. It may be better the assess Gleneagles on his National Stakes run, and Territories on his bloodless mile Group 3 success three weeks ago.
It is impossible not to respect a Fabre runner over here, and all the more so with the returning Barzalona doing the steering. Of those to have run this season, he might be the most likely, as France’s finest is sure to have left plenty in the tank from the prep race to this primary target.
One of the market movers of the past fortnight has been Richard Hannon’s Estidhkaar. His Greenham run behind Muhaarar had a lot to like about it, but that seven furlong range might be his optimal judged on breeding: by Dark Angel out of a Danetime mare.
That said, Dark Angel has sired the likes of Sovereign Debt and Bronze Angel, both of whom are very good milers. But, that said, both of that pair are much more stoutly bred on the dam side than Estidhkaar. At 16 and 20/1, as he was immediately post-Greenham, this lad would have been interesting each way. But at around 7/1 now, the good ship ‘Value’ has sailed.
Behind Estidhkaar in the Greenham was his better fancied stablemate, Ivawood. A top class sprinter, this lad looks for the all the world like a top class sprinter, and I expect him to run like a top class sprinter: choke out for five furlongs, pacy for a sixth, and then flattening out before reverting to that for which he was bred. He’s a lovely strong colt, but surely not a miler. 12/1 to win means there might be a place lay option on the day.
Roger Varian has Intilaaq in here, one of three twice-raced entries in the field. Having finished a good third in an Ascot maiden that is working out really well, the Dynaformer colt bamboozled his way to an eight length verdict a fortnight ago over a fast ground mile at Newbury. It’s nigh on impossible to assimilate that form in the context of a 2000 Guineas run, but it’s fair to say the bare form leaves him a lot to find.
Of course, with so few miles on the clock he may be able to summon up the requisite differential, but I typically prefer form in the book allied to upside potential when so many others have it.
Racing Post Trophy winner, Elm Park, is quite a big price. His progress last year took him from defeat in a Sandown maiden (that is working out exceptionally well) to an unbeaten quartet of runs, culminating in that Group 1 mile success.
He’s grown a lot physically over the winter, and having had a racecourse gallop at Newbury two weeks ago, should be close to full fitness for this seasonal bow. Sadly, the ground might be a bit on the quick side for him, and there’s a good chance he’ll miss the race. If he doesn’t, he’s a player.
Further down the lists, a couple at bigger prices worth a second glance are Moheet and Ride Like The Wind. Moheet is the third twice-raced colt in the line up, and will get the services of the resurgent Frankie Dettori in the saddle. Having won a Salisbury maiden by seven lengths on his only two year old start, he ran a fair third at Newmarket in the Craven.
There was actually quite a lot to like about that performance: he missed the break somewhat, and was staying on all the way to the line. If he can trap more alertly at 3.45 on Saturday, he’s probably better than a 25/1 shot.
And Ride Like The Wind is the second French raider. Freddie Head is a trainer of milers par excellence, with Goldikova the most obvious example. But QEII winner, Charm Spirit, is another more recent Group 1 mile winning example. If Head thinks this garcon is good enough to make the trip, that’s a bit of a tip.
Brought on steadily this term, Ride Like The Wind was second in early March before winning the Group 3 Prix Djebel over seven furlongs a month ago. In what was a very slowly run race, the son of French Guineas and Derby winner, Lope De La Vega, did really well to come from last to first, beating the unbeaten favourite in the process.
The fast ground is an unknown, and Ride Like The Wind may not be good enough. But 40/1 surely under-estimates his chance.
QIPCO 2000 Guineas Tips
This year’s 2000 Guineas is a typically competitive heat, pitching together top juvenile form, the best of the early season trials, and unexposed ‘could be anything’ types. As such, it’s a bit of a punting minefield, with very few easily discounted.
Gleneagles sets a good standard, but may have less scope to step forward than some and is priced fairly rather than attractively at 3/1.
Ol’ Man River is worth a bet, win only. Two from two, and bred for stardom, he should get towed into the race by the likes of Kool Kompany and Ivawood towards the middle of the course; and his stamina will see him home.
I’d also be interested in Elm Park if he ran, but suspect he won’t. After that, two at big prices worthy of small wagers are Moheet and Ride Like The Wind. The former is progressive and better than the bare form of his Craven third, while the latter showed taking acceleration to win a decent trial (won in the past by Charm Spirit, Style Vendome, French Fifteen, and Makfi, since 2010).
2 pts win Ol’ Man River 8/1 Ladbrokes, Hills
0.5 pts e/w Moheet 25/1 general (20/1 PP, bet 365 1/4 1-2-3-4)
0.5 pts e/w Ride Like The Wind 40/1 Boyle, Bet Victor (33/1 bet365 1/4 1-2-3-4)
BRITISH CHAMPIONS SERIES COMPETITION TIME:
How about a competition? The Fantasy Horse Racing League gets underway tomorrow with the 2000 Guineas card at Newmarket, and you can enter – and join the Geegeez Super League – here:
If asked, the PIN you need is 8088755
As well as the main prizes offered by the competition itself (shares in racehorses, VIP race days), I’ll also be offering a LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION to Geegeez Gold for the Geegeez League winner. Woohoo 😀
Click the link above to join up – it’s dead simple. You choose jockeys and trainers and get points when their horses make the frame in the biggest races this season.