The flat racing season is slowly cranking into life after the thrilling denouement of the National Hunt campaign at the Cheltenham Festival, and one of the star turns ran on flat ground is just around the corner.
The 2000 Guineas, one of British racing’s five classics and the first of the Triple Crown that also features the Derby and St Leger, is a Group 1 feature that brings together the finest three-year-olds from across the land, who will take on Newmarket’s famed Rowley Mile on May 6th 2017.
Dating back more than 200 years, the winner’s purse stands at a handsome £450,000; considerably greater than the kitty trousered at the 1809 debut of the race, as you might expect!
2000 Guineas Betting Preview
Return of the King
The 2000 Guineas has a habit of throwing up some unexpected and thrilling story lines, and once such narrative came at the 2016 renewal when Galileo Gold, the 14/1 outsider, handed Frankie Dettori his first win in the race since he led Island Sands to victory in 1999.
But it’s another winning team that will attract most of the attention in the 2000 Guineas betting ring. Aidan O’Brien, the race’s most decorated trainer with seven wins, will once again join forces with owner Sue Magnier for an assault on the 2000 Guineas.
Together they have combined to produce some of the most outstanding champions in this renewal’s history, including King of Kings in 1998, Rock of Gibraltar at the turn of the new Millennium and Gleneagles in 2015.
This year they boast the early ante-post favourite and hot tip, Churchill. With Ryan Moore in the saddle, the colt has racked up five straight victories in fairly decent company, including October’s Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes – where he bested South Seas and Rivet, both in the field here – a four-length triumph in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and a decent turn in the Futurity Stakes, where he outgunned the fancied American, Radio Silence.
2000 Guineas Betting Odds
Can Churchill be taken on?
Of course, and at a price as short as 6/4 in places he certainly will be. But with the Moore-O’Brien-Magnier triumvirate doing the backing, he is a worthy favourite.
Trial and Error
There are four races classed as trials for the 2000 Guineas: the aforementioned Dewhurst Stakes, the Phoenix Stakes, the Greenham Stakes and the Craven Stakes.
The Dewhurst is a Group 1 run on the Rowley Mile – hence why Churchill is so hotly tipped for the Guineas, and is open to those who are aged two at the time. It is the most prestigious renewal available to juveniles, and naturally the winner here becomes a leading contender for the classics.
The Phoenix was won by an American horse, Caravaggio, who is quoted as a 16/1 hope for the 2000 Guineas. It is another from the O’Brien-Magnier axis of evil and another horse who remains unbeaten: four starts, four wins. He was a 1/8 hope for the Phoenix, so perhaps it was his victory in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes – where he defeated the excellent Psychedelic Fred – that was most impressive. As we know, with Aiden O’Brien on training duties anything is possible.
Barney Roy is quietly fancied for the 2000 Guineas and for good reason: he took the Greenham Stakes in fine style in just his second start. He saw off Dream Castle (14/1 for the Guineas) by two lengths to land another impressive win for the Godolphin yard.
But of these four trials perhaps the most intriguing champion is Eminent, who landed the Craven Stakes in April. What is so remarkable about this Martyn Meade trained colt? He is the son of the legendary Frankel.
Eminent was ridden and stayed on under Jim Crowley to land the Craven at a mouth-watering 8/1, and it is no surprise to see his odds of a repeat at Newmarket slashed to 13/2 as a result.
Frankel was an unbeaten powerhouse who landed the Greenham Stakes, the Dewhurst, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in his illustrious career before taking down the big one – the 2000 Guineas – in 2011.
Eminent was one of Frankel’s first offspring as part of his retirement career as a stud supreme, and surprisingly sold for as little as £157,000 while some of his siblings exchanged hands for more than £1 million.
If he can land the big prize on May 6 he will have more than paid for himself already; and take a huge leap towards following in the hoofsteps of his illustrious sire.