Toronado to topple Approach
Simon Holt previews Saturday's QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and he's siding with Toronado.
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The betting market suggests that Saturday's QIPCO 2000 Guineas amounts to a toss-up between the two unbeaten colts Dawn Approach and TORONADO and it is certainly difficult to ignore their solid credentials.
One tenuous line of form - through George Vancouver and Dundonnel - suggests that Dawn Approach may just have the edge though their official ratings are identical and I will just favour Toronado who has the most recent form and was hugely impressive when giving weight and a four-length thrashing to Havana Gold and Dundonnel in last month's Craven Stakes over the course and distance.
While Jim Bolger is sure to have Dawn Approach well primed, it is always preferable (I believe) to have a prep-run and, another small consideration is that Dawn Approach has never run on ground described as faster than 'good'. Conditions on the Rowley Mile are currently good to firm.
On the other hand, Dawn Approach is a grand horse, a horse who showed a tremendous racing attitude when winning both the Coventry and Dewhurst Stakes on this side of the water last season and it is difficult to find much fault in him.
But that same remark also applies to Toronado who is a fine mover and another with a strong will to win judged on his defeat of Dundonnel in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last September. His Craven romp marked a giant leap forward proving that he has trained on into a likely high-class performer and maybe he can give champion jockey Richard Hughes a long overdue first classic victory.
Aidan O'Brien fields three runners - Cristoforo Colombo, George Vancouver and Mars - who are possibly fancied at Ballydoyle in that order with Joseph O'Brien opting to partner the first named and the trainer having reservations about the latter's lack of experience.
Cristoforo Colombo was beaten less than a length when third to Dawn Approach at Royal Ascot last June and then may have been unlucky when slipping up at The Curragh. His final run of the season when he finished fourth to Reckless Abandon in the Middle Park Stakes suggested that he was looking for further than six furlongs, though his pedigree is not especially stamina-laden.
George Vancouver's win at the Breeders Cup (Dundonnel fourth) is hard to quantify as it is fair to say that international form doesn't always travel, and he was firmly put in his place behind Dawn Approach in the Dewhurst.
Finally, the hyped-up Mars has had just the one career outing so far when hacking up in a Dundalk maiden last July from stable companion The Ferryman (well beaten in the Dewhurst). The son of Galileo could be anything and a bold showing here will augur well for his chances in the big races to come.
Of the others, Lingfield winner Van Der Neer looks the second-string to stable companion Toronado and Moohaajim needs to finish his race much better than when a disappointing third over seven furlongs in the Greenham first time out.
However, one with possible each-way claims is the northern raider Garswood, a grand stamp of horse who trotted up in the Free Handicap last month and has reportedly been burning up the Malton gallops this spring.
Being objective, his form does not look good enough to threaten Toronado or Dawn Approach but that latest win - despite the inferior opposition - was hugely taking for the way he switched off and then quickened through the field.
Garswood was idling in the final half furlong of that Free Handicap and there could be much more to come from this colt.
*Simon advised two winners from two tips last weekend when Al Kazeem (3/1) and Quentin Collonges (14/1) won at Sandown.