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The 2000 Guineas preview

The highlight of the weekend in British racing is undoubtedly Saturday's 2000 Guineas. There's no Frankel in the line-up this year, is the hotpot from Ballydoyle ready to do better than stablemate St Nicholas Abbey who arrived with similar wraps? Dan Kelly assesses the field in the first classic of 2012. Follow him on Twitter @muffinmannhc.

The 204th running of this race will have to go some to beat the spectacle that was the 203rd, or simply Frankel's Guineas, but where last year had one phenomenon, this year could very well house a number of stars.

First of all, let's separate the wheat from the chaff in racecard order; Boomerang Bob, Bronterre, Coupe De Ville, Ptolemaic, Redact and Talwar. Culmination of not good enough, sprinters on breeding, poor preparation comfortably explains their exclusion.

Now to pick out those finer grains.

Abtaal
Related to a Grade 1 winner in the States over 1m+, he was given a very easy time of it on seasonal debut in the Prix Djebel. He has shown that the mile trip looks like his optimum given he won well on soft ground over 7 as a juvenile, and relished the mile trip when accounting for French Fifteen comfortably in the Prix Thomas Bryon. We'll come to French Fifteen later, but I expect the finishing positions of the Djebel to be reversed today. Shortening in the betting throughout the week, in hope or in expectation?

Born To Sea
Don't you just hate big brothers hogging the limelight, well Born To Sea's big bro was some tool, Sea The Stars, and if he is half as good as him they have a good colt on their hands. Described as being far more precocious than his half brother, he won his debut well at the Curragh, but disappointed in the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown, excuse was readily found when he was found to be lame post race. Ground was also put up as an excuse for that defeat, as such even though Soft at Newmarket rides closer to Good than Heavy, that doesn't look like it'll be a problem for him. I can't help feel though that his price is very much priced on the pedigree profile rather than the form book.

Caspar Netcher
You can't help but admire this horse. 3yo and he's already had 11 runs to his name, 3 time Group winner and a sound effort after being keen early in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf. Trip was a worry on seasonal debut but he went through the ground well, and accounted for a sound enough field comfortably. Improvement is needed, and I doubt that there's much left in him but bring on the Jersey Stakes @ Royal Ascot for him.

Fencing
"Won" his race on debut at Newmarket on the July course when they split in two groups early, he followed it up with a good win in a Listed event at Newbury after being keen early. However, at Doncaster in the Racing Post Trophy he was readily put into his place by Camelot and I'm struggling to see why over a mile them places will be reversed today. Interrupted prep tempers enthusiasm also.

French Fifteen
Form ties in with the early mentioned Abtaal, and as said then I expect form to be reversed here today. Felt he was given more of a vigourous ride in the Djebel, and even though no doubt looks like there's more to come I have doubts about true Gr1 company as he was fortiuitos in his win in the Criterium where circumstances conspired against Bonfire.

Hermival
Another with form in the Prix Djebel, this step up in trip is bound to suit but he probably needs another furlong or two already as he rousted up early and got going late in that race on the back of a late Nov11 win on Heavy ground.

Power
Looked unlucky in the Dewhurst stakes where he was on the rail until the 2f marker and in the end had to be brought out four wide to make his challenge. Closing to the line he did look like he was the best horse in the race at the time. Bar his maiden win, he has always been in a fight, with winning distances a shd, nk, 1/2l and defeats by nk and 1/2l, and the quote from Aidan says it all to me "He is a tough, genuine colt". Battle-hardened is how I'd describe him, and in an open enough renewal, it's a great quality to have.

Red Duke
Would love to see this Hard Spun chestnut win, and I can excuse his run in Dewhurst as had been on the go since May, however it would be a stretch to say that he will win. Caught wide at Meydan, that run could have brought him on, but the trip would have taken something out of him and there's too many here who have better form in the book, or have more potential.

Saigon
Is there a Doctor in the house as I can see this Royal Applause colt running a huge race and belittling odds of 150s+. He was finishing in and around Caspar Netshcer as a Juvenile, and finished off with a nightmare run at Newbury where blocked at every path. He saw out the final furlong well once in clear, and he relished the hill on Rowley Mile in the Middle Park, overpriced and worth a couple of bob at big prices.

Top Offer
All about potential this one. Was due to run in the Greenham, pulled out due to ground and this Dansili colt has a pulverizing win over Pulverize to his win in a maiden at Newbury. But that was just a maiden win, and this is a big step up. Top Offer did look like he'd be best seen over a trip of this nature being out of a 1m-1m2f winning Dam in Zante, but with a run not to his name this season and still to show capabilities in even Listed class never mind Group, that has to be a worry.

Trumpet Major
Battle-hardened is already taken, so I'll describe this Arakan colt as professional. Relatively easy to back on seasonal debut, giving weight away, some may have harboured doubts re ability to handle the ground, but his only attempt on soft ground was at Sandown and that was 9 days after an impressive win on the July course, there was nothing to fear as he won easily. Accounted for Red Duke at Doncaster easy enough, he was racing the furthers away from the rail in the Dewhurst which was a disadvantage throughout. Today drawn 18 he's bound to get a rail to run against and John Manley could very well have another Gr 1 winner to go with his Dick Turpin.

Missed one out I think, Camelot.

Many inches have been written, many tweets tweeted, and words spoken about a Montjeu and 3yo winner over a mile, but there's two sides to every relationship, so what about the Dam, Tarfah. Well she was a multiple winner over a mile, and a Group 3 winner over 9f, and out of Kingmambo, French 2000gns and St James' Palace winner. With my own eyes I've seen Camelot quicken to devastating effect as a Juvenile not only in a maiden, but in Group 1 company to suggest that he could very well break the mould. Hell, rules are made to be broken, Hurricane Fly and the Cheltenham Hill Montjeu stat was broken in convincing fashion last year, and given what we have seen visually from Camelot, then this is another rule that is up for breaking.

My Guineas 1-2-3

Camelot - Trumpet Major - Saigon

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Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes
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