2000 Guineas day at Newmarket, the home of British Flat racing, is almost upon us and looks set to be staged on near perfect ground with underfoot conditions anticipated as being ‘good’. The Qipco 2000 Guineas (3.35) is the first European classic race and has been run on the Rowley Mile at ‘HQ’ since 1809. Living legend Aidan O’Brien (pictured above) has won the race more times than any other trainer in history, saddling the winner on eight occasions, most recently with Churchill 12 months ago.
Here at Betting.net we first looked at this race six weeks ago and our ante-post advice was to back O’Brien’s Gustav Klimt at 8/1. The imposing son of Galileo was as short as 2/1 a few days ago, but has eased back to 5/2 with bet365, a price that may still look good value at around twenty to four on Saturday afternoon.
Ryan Moore will not be on board the favourite this time though as he partners O’Brien’s Mendelssohn in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in the USA later in the day, so the excellent Seamie Heffernan takes the ride on GUSTAV KLIMT. His stable companion and last term’s Group 1 Racing Post Trophy winner Saxon Warrior – the current 7/2 ante-post favourite (with Sportingbet) for the Derby in four weeks’ time – will be partnered by Donnacha O’Brien, while the yard’s third representative, Murillo, will be ridden by Wayne Lordan.
We shalln’t go over old ground on this tremendous race, but if you want to hear Aidan O’Brien’s latest thoughts on Gustav Klimt take a look at the video below. You can also read our most recent Betting.Net full analysis of the 2000 Guineas here. Suffice it to say, we remain very excited at holding 8/1 ante-post vouchers about the current 5/2 favourite!
2000 Guineas day isn’t just about the big race itself as there are other tremendous supporting contests at the Cambridgeshire track.
Hoping For a Grey Day at HQ
The Group 3 Longhgoles Palace House Stakes (2.20) is often won by a smart sprinter with each of the last five winners – Mayson, Sole Power (twice), Goldream, Profitable, and Marsha – all achieving Group 1 successes in their respective careers, so in our quest for the winner you have to look to horses who have the potential to achieve that level.
Last season HAVANA GREY (5/2 with Ladbrokes) was a very talented and very fast two-year-old, winning four times, including the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. He ran an even better race when runner-up over 6f in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville soon after (see video below) over a trip almost certainly in excess of his best, then failed by just half a length to defeat Heartache back over the minimum trip of 5 furlongs in the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster in September, conceding the winner 3lb.
If he has trained on, (and connections believe he has), then Karl Burke’s Middleham-based raider has an outstanding chance even though at this stage of the season it is never easy for a young sprinter to take on older, battle-hardened sprinting warriors. The likes of Alpha Delphini, Judicial, Ornate, and the still unexposed Mabs Cross are all respected, but we’re very optimistic that HAVANA GREY can land the spoils in a race that has cut up to just nine runners.
ADVICE: HAVANA GREY (5/2 with Ladbrokes)
Defoe Can Be Punters’ Friend
The race prior to the 2000 Guineas is the £100,000 Group 2 Dunaden Jockey Club Stakes (2.55) run over a mile-and-a-half for four-year-olds and upwards.
Four-year-olds have won eight of the last nine renewals of this race, last year’s event being won by the previous year’s Irish and Yorkshire Oaks heroine, Seventh Heaven, trained by Aidan O’Brien. It’s hard to get away from the claims of Roger Varian’s talented four-year-old DEFOE (1/2 with William Hill), whose only defeat in his last five starts came when he was clearly out of sorts in the St Leger at Doncaster last year when he was a distant 10th having been heavily eased when beaten.
The son of Dalakhani had previously won with plenty in hand under Andrea Atzeni in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury, and already this term has shown himself in fine shape, comfortably beating the useful Danehill Kodiac in the Group 3 John Porter Stakes back at Newbury. Connections have stumped up serious cash to supplement him into this race and he appears to have scared of many of the original entries for this race.
If there is to be a shock then Khalidi (9/1 with Betfred) might be the one to provide it. Trainer Clive Cox might well regret having taken his chance in Dubai last time where his High Chaparral dropped away tamely in the $5 million Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic, but the prospect of potentially grabbing a share of the massive prizemoney must have been incredibly tempting. He had previously shaped well in listed company at Lingfield on the All-Weather in February on his first start for the yard, having formerly been trained by John Gosden.
Khalidi’s form in failing by just half a length to beat Permian in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last year is very solid, as too was his final start for his previous handler when runner-up to Crystal Ocean in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last August. He would be a sporting alternative for those unprepared to back Defoe at odds-on.
ADVICE: DEFOE (1/2 with William Hill)
Sunny Outlook For Cote’ D’Azur
Bookmakers seem to have taken the view that the opening Spring Lodge Stakes Handicap (1.55) is well and truly at the mercy of Roger Varian’s Sharja Bridge, an unexposed Oasis Dream colt who could easily be a pattern class horse masquerading as a handicapper. But a number of Varian’s horses are needing a run to put them right and at odds of a top-priced 11/4 in such a hot event there could be value taking on the expected market leader.
“Horses for courses” is an old racing adage, and one horse who seems to thrive at this track and specifically over this nine furlong trip, is Les Eyre’s Cote D’Azur (20/1 each-way with Paddy Power), third of 34 in the Cambridgeshire Handicap here last September (see video below) and set to run off exactly the same mark on Saturday. On his only other visit to Newmarket he also ran over course and distance finishing second of 20 in the Silver Cambridgeshire of 2016, so clearly relishes Newmarket’s Rowley Mile.
The other horse to catch the eye for those considering an each-way interest in this £50,000 race is John Gosden’s Dommersen (11/1 each-way with Boylesports). After a progressive three-year-old campaign in 2016 this Dutch Art gelding missed all of last term but showed he still retains plenty of ability when a very respectable fourth to The Queen’s Fabricate in the listed Magnolia Stakes at Kempton at the end of March.
Back on turf, and with his Kempton conqueror having failed by just a short-head to land the Group 3 Gordon Richard Stakes last week, that form looks strong and Dommersen (along with Cote D’Azur) should give Sharja Bridge something to think about.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.