Donn McClean assesses the Irish team for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and anticipates a huge run from Madhmoon.
It is 42 years since Kevin Prendergast sent out Nebbiolo to win the 2000 Guineas, and he could repeat the feat today with Madhmoon.
Sheikh Hamdan’s colt was an impressive juvenile last season. He ran out an easy winner of his maiden over a mile at Leopardstown in August, and he stepped up on that next time when he landed the Group 2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes back at Leopardstown on Irish Champions’ Weekend in September.
There was a lot to like about that performance. He travelled well through his race for Chris Hayes, and he found plenty when his rider asked him to stretch, coming two and a half lengths clear of Broome, who in turn finished nicely ahead of the rest of the field. Broome came out next time and finished second to Royal Marine in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp, beaten just a neck, and he ran out a seriously impressive winner of the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown on his debut this season.
Madhmoon was beaten on his debut this season, but there were mitigating circumstances. For starters, he was taking on a talented and race-fit rival in Never No More who had been impressive in winning the Madrid Handicap on the first day of the turf flat season at Naas. Also, he was conceding 3lb to Aidan O’Brien’s colt, and he was racing over seven furlongs on soft ground. And he was only beaten a half a length. He should be happier today, back over a mile, a distance over which he is one for one, and back on better ground.
His draw in stall one may not be ideal, but it may not be a negative either, and anyway, in Chris Hayes Madhmoon has a tactically astute rider who will be well aware of the potential difficulties that a draw on the wing may present.
The market tells you that Ten Sovereigns heads the Irish challenge, and that makes sense. Aidan O’Brien’s colt was unbeaten in three runs as a juvenile last year, and he was impressive in winning the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes on his latest run. He showed a smart turn of foot to hit the front a furlong and a half out that day. He was challenged by Jash from that point, but it always looked like he was holding his rival, it always looked like the No Nay Never colt was doing enough, and the pair of them pulled clear of their rivals.
Of course, we don’t know if Ten Sovereigns will stay a mile. He has never been beyond six furlongs in his life. But Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore obviously think that he will stay and, given the pace that he showed last year over six furlongs, if he does get the trip, he could be an exceptional colt.
We know that Magna Grecia gets a mile all right. The Invincible Spirit colt stayed on well to win the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Stakes at Doncaster on his final run last season. He proved that he could operate at Newmarket too when he ran Persian King to a neck in the Autumn Stakes there on his previous run and, the mount of last year’s Guineas-winning rider Donnacha O’Brien, he is a player.
It is a strong Irish challenge, but Madhmoon could be the value of the race. Kevin Prendergast’s colt is bred for the Guineas. His sire is a Guineas winner, his dam’s sire is a Guineas winner, his dam’s sire’s sire is a Guineas winner. Also, his sire’s sire was beaten a nose in the Guineas, while his dam’s sire’s dam was beaten a short head in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket before going to The Curragh and winning the Irish 1000 Guineas.
It would be some story too. It would be some achievement by Kevin Prendergast, to train his second Guineas winner, 42 years after he trained his first.