Matt Brocklebank highlights a handful of horses who are potentially over-priced for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, before settling on an each-way selection.
The first Classic of the 2019 Flat season is less than a month away and reports from Newmarket suggest winter favourite Too Darn Hot is doing everything asked of him ahead of his seasonal return at Newbury this weekend.
But a lot can change from the two-year-old division to a Classic campaign, mainly due to the fact that horses develop at different rates, but also because others have yet to tackle their optimum distance, or just haven’t quite had the opportunity to fully demonstrate just what they have to offer in terms of ability.
So is there any early value to be found away from the even-money market leader?
Matt Brocklebank looks at five possible dark horses and reckons it’s time to get one on side now at 33/1 in case not all goes to plan for Too Darn Hot in Saturday’s Greenham Stakes.
Recmmended bets: QIPCO 2000 Guineas
- Trainer: Simon Crisford
- Form: 112-
- Sky Bet: 16/1
Analysis: The introduction of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot has transformed the racing careers of many a three-year-old since its inception in 2015.
In previous seasons, due to a paucity of realistic top-class options, you’d occasionally have horses thrown into battle on 2000 Guineas day despite connections having serious reservations over the horse’s suitability for the mile test, only for them to lose their way as a consequence.
Now the lure of the first Classic is a fraction less strong, trainers and owners able to sensibly keep the powder dry safe in the knowledge that Royal Ascot provides a bona fide Group One summer target for their more speedily-bred colt.
There are a number of Guineas entries who could yet skip the race and focus on a more typical Ascot prep over a shorter distance, including the likes of Kevin Ryan’s Hello Youmzain and the Ed Vaughan-trained Magic J, but the two most prominent in that regard are clearly Ten Sovereigns and Jash.
One-two in the Middle Park, they were both 2-2 going into the race and neither has gone beyond six furlongs.
Ten Sovereigns’ sire No Nay Never imparts of a lot of class but the dam is by Exceed And Excel and hardly screams stamina, while Jash is a son of Kodiac out of a six furlong juvenile winner, but the dam is out of a half-sister to Hibaayed who stayed a mile and a half and won Group Ones at a mile and 10 furlongs.
Jash’s half-brother Hansian Prince won over a mile at three for Ger Lyons before moving to Hong Kong.
So on pedigree there’s arguably a chance that Jash will be better suited to the Guineas trip this year than his autumn conqueror Ten Sovereigns and with Aidan O’Brien’s horse less than half the price in the betting, and only half a length splitting them when they last met, Jash offers far more in the way of potential market value.
- Trainer: Marcus Tregoning
- Form: 211-
- Sky Bet: 40/1
Analysis: It could be a baptism of fire for Mohaather as far as his Classic campaign goes as at the time of writing he’s engaged to face Too Darn Hot in the Watership Down Stud Greenham Stakes at Newbury this weekend.
He’s obviously got a huge amount to find on the figures if he’s to get close to the favourite but the son of Showcasing did make significant strides between each of his three racecourse appearances at two.
He barely put a foot wrong at two, improving on a promising debut second to win a Nottingham novice and then take the Group Three formerly known as the Horris Hill when last sighted on October 28, beating John Gosden’s impressive Yarmouth scorer Azano by a length and a half.
It’s a while since Marcus Tregoning had such a promising individual on his hands and where he’s pitched next will be telling, but providing he’s made the natural progress through the winter months then he certainly looks to be going places.
He looks to have a good attitude and is already proven on quick and easy ground, two attributes which should really stand him in good stead going forward.
- Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor
- Form: 11-
- Sky Bet: 25/1
Analysis: Having kicked up a stink over the quality of the ammunition he’d been dealt in the previous couple of seasons, Saeed bin Suroor was looking a lot more satisfied with his juvenile crop come the end of the 2018 Flat campaign.
Royal Marine had already won the Group One Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc weekend when stablemate Royal Meeting notched another on the top-class tally in the Criterium International at Chantilly on October 28.
This three-quarter length victory over Aidan O’Brien’s filly Hermosa, who had been placed in both the Moyglare Stakes and the Fillies’ Mile beforehand, was a smart performance as he was conceding experience and weight to Hermosa while his jockey Christophe Soumillon only had to administer three short cracks of the whip before easing him home hands-and-heels.
The son of Invincible Spirit is a half-brother to Heavy Metal while the dam was placed in the UAE 1000 Guineas so moving up from seven furlongs at two to a mile at three should bring about further improvement on paper.
He’s an intriguing prospect for the Guineas, especially with Charlie Appleby losing Quorto from the Godolphin Newmarket team following a setback. The money over the past couple of weeks has been for once-raced Zakouski but as far as trsutworthy form is concerned then it’s Bin Suroor with the two most likely bullets for the boys in blue, and Royal Marine has blotted his copybook rather with a low-key effort switched to dirt at Meydan in January.
U S S MICHIGAN
- Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
- Form: 2-1
- Sky Bet: 33/1
Analysis: Aidan O'Brien wasted no time getting U S S Michigan's head in front this season, the War Front colt winning a six furlong Dundalk maiden on March 1 having finished runner-up on his only 2018 outing at the Curragh at the end of June.
The big grey barely had to improve in form terms but it was impressive how he managed to get over from a poor draw and really took command in the straight.
The further he went the better he looked and it's highly unlikely we'll see him over a sprint distance again with plenty of mile and middle-distance influence from both sides of his lineage.
Entries at Chelmsford (1m) and Naas (7f) in the coming days indicate he's ready to keep rolling this spring and he offers an interesting angle into the potential O'Brien team, which also includes proven Group One performers such as Ten Sovereigns and Doncaster hero Magna Grecia.
- Trainer: William Haggas
- Form: 1-
- Sky Bet: 33/1
Analysis: Williams Haggas has just the one early entry for the 2019 QIPCO 2000 Guineas but it’s not the kind of horse we should be glossing over as a likely also-ran come April 4.
Skardu is a colt to very much keep track of this spring and summer, having probably dropped off one or two radars since his debut on September 28.
That came over seven furlongs on the Rowley Mile course and it’s notable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, due to the fact he was sent off 33/1 and obviously took connections rather by surprise after coming from a difficult-looking position to win by two lengths without his rider Martin Harley having to get anything like seriously animated in the saddle.
But also seeing how well the form has worked out since. Runner-up Velorum hasn’t been out again but despite that the race – a Plus-10 maiden for colts and geldings – has produced eight subsequent victories (four individual horses) including Estihdaaf, the five and a half-length UAE 2000 Guineas winner at Meydan on February 7.
Shamardal colt Skardu made mincemeat of his rivals on the day where he not only proved his suitability to Newmarket but also shaped like he’d get a mile (and further) as a three-year-old.
Haggas won a Newmarket maiden with his horse’s dam, Diala, in 2011 before she went straight to the 1000 Guineas the following spring, so it will be fascinating to see if a similar path is plotted, or whether he takes in a trial over the next couple of weeks.
At 33/1 generally, he looks the each-way play at this stage.