Former Talksport man Charlie McCann has a good look at the 2000 Guineas on Saturday at Newmarket.The Guineas’ meeting is one of the most eagerly-awaited weekends of the flat season with betting for the colts’ classic dominated by the unbeaten Henry Cecil-trained Frankel who is 1/2 with on the back of his demolition of an admittedly modest field in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury earlier in the month on his seasonal reappearance.
It is hard to get away from the son of Galileo and I was fortunate enough to be in the parade ring at Ascot for the Royal Lodge back in September to see first hand Cecil’s champion two-year-old in the flesh.
On the day Frankel was shouting out in the preliminaries (generally regarded as a sign of inexperience) despite the fact that he had already landed his maiden at Newmarket and a minor conditions race at Doncaster. Warm and keen to post, he refused to settle for jockey Tom Queally in the early part of the race but when the jockey allowed him to stride on he quickly put the race to bed with the minimum of fuss.
On reflection most things that could go wrong did go wrong at Ascot yet he still won a Group 2 contest by 10L! His subsequent facile Dewhurst success gave further evidence that he was a class apart from his peers and I think only a Newmarket deluge can prevent Cecil from winning a third 2000 Guineas and his first since Wollow back in 1976.
Having laid a bet of £550k to win £500,000 at 10/11 we at will be praying for rain at the end of the month but Frankel looks unbeatable at this stage of his career over a mile. Where he goes from Newmarket is the subject of constant speculation; my own view is that he wouldn’t get a mile-and-a-half in a horsebox and he should be campaigned at a mile until later in the season when he should be given the opportunity in the Juddmonte or Champion Stakes to see whether he gets 10 furlongs.
I would love to see the colt lock horns with French wonder-mare Goldikova (twice his age) in the Breeders’ Cup Mile back at Churchill Downs when sparks would certainly fly on the evening of November 5th. I remember Frankel’s mother Kind and would be staggered if she were able to foal a Derby winner even allowing for the fact that the sire is a major stamina influence. Frankel’s half-brother Bullet Train (by Sadler’s Wells) did win the Lingfield Derby Trial over 11f last year but appeared not to get home on both subsequent tries at 12f.
For breeding purposes the Derby is not the Holy Grail it once was although it remains one of the most eminent horse races in the world. If Frankel lands the Guineas the traditionalists, and many of the racing scribes, will insist the colt is aimed at Epsom. Not for me; not every Champion has to be as versatile as the brilliant Guineas/Derby/Arc winner Sea The Stars a couple of years ago. Frankel is blessed with more raw speed and although the sport needs another superstar that will not be the case if he is asked to run 12f certainly not as early as the first Saturday in June.
Frankel is not the only unbeaten colt going into the race with Jessica Harrington’s Pathfork (11/2 with ) winner of the Group 2 Futurity (fast ground) and Group 1 National Stakes (less impressive on soft) at the Curragh as a juvenile. The colt will go to HQ without a run under his belt this term and his trainer, rather pessimistically perhaps, described the favourite’s Greenham performance earlier in the week as “awesome”. That said she is reported to be more than satisfied with her own stable star who will have two more pieces of work in Ireland before being shipped across on Wednesday ahead of the Classic.
Aidan O’Brien’s Roderic O’Connor (6/1) will also go to Newmarket without a run but he has over 2L to make up on Frankel on Dewhurst form from last autumn and he looks more of a Derby contender to this eye.
Native Khan (14/1) won the Craven Stakes well enough for Ed Dunlop but connections have yet to confirm the grey a definite runner at HQ as the French equivalent is under consideration. He is effective on fast ground and I have always felt the Solario Stakes winner would make a leading three-year-old. Dunlop was quoted on RUK as saying you should never be afraid of one horse so what’s he waiting for?
The dark horse of the race is William Haggas’s Fury (16/1) winner of both starts as a juvenile including when landing a valuable sales race over 7f at Newmarket back in October. He would have to improve greatly on the bare bones of that form but he is the subject to very favourable gallop reports this spring and is a fascinating contender in a race that revolves around one horse.
Qipco 2000 Guineas: each way ¼ odds 1, 2, 3:
Roderic O’Connor 6/1
Native Khan 14/1
Fury 16/1 (from 25s)
Dream Ahead 20/1
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