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2000 Guineas preview

If you're a flat racing punter, nothing sets the heart racing like Guineas weekend. So many reputations at stake after all the hype over the winter, and all the huge breeding operations staking heavily on their future star stallions.

Taking the reins to preview this great race is Sam Preen, @sampreen. Read more of his work, where this preview was originally published, on his blog .


QIPCO 2000 Guineas
Newmarket 1545 local
Group 1, 3yo colts, One Mile
Track: Good to Firm

The flat is in full swing with Group 1s coming at us thick and fast, and this weekend we have the 2000 & 1000 Guineas to look forward to, the former a race I’ve been looking forward to seeing for months. Here’s the line up…

Bossy Guest
Landed a conditions race at Newmarket, over six furlongs, last July, but disappointed in a Listed event in August, and twice had to finish behind Secret Brief on his final two starts. Won well enough on his seasonal debut, here over six furlongs, but is way out of his depth in Group 1 level.

Capella Sansevero
Used to be a decent two year old, but slowly went off the boil after a late second in the Conventry, under a typical Spencer ride, but bombed out on firmer going at the Curragh 11 days later. Much better third in the Phoenix Stakes, finishing half a length to Dick Whittington, and started paying back the price tag with a narrow Group 3 victory at the Curragh, before a late forth in the Middle Park. A very difficult task on his seasonal debut.

Celestial Path
Followed up his smart debut with a Listed victory at Haydock, but perhaps wasn’t suited by the rain softened ground at Doncaster, in the Racing Post Trophy, finishing a one paced third behind Elm Park. Certainly will appreciate the faster ground on offer, if the rain stays away.

Code Red
Listed winner on his final start last year, but ran like his 50/1 SP suggested on his seasonal debut, in a Group 3 at Newbury, his first start beyond 6 furlongs. Should strip fitter for that run a fortnight ago, but is way out of his depth on his first crack at a mile.

Dutch Connection
Shock Group 3 winner last August, and was hardly disgraced at his first attempt at top level racing, finishing third to Gleneagles, but lost vital stamina by racing keenly early on. William Buick, who is 2-3 on the colt, is a solid booking, and fast ground is just as ideal.

Elm Park
My sweetheart. Since landing his maiden, he’s been on an upward curve, firing off 3 more races, including giving myself a belated birthday present by justifying favoritism to land the Racing Post Trophy in October. Hasn’t raced since, but he has had a racecourse gallop, which, looking at him, he badly needed. Providing Andrew has him on point, he can go very close.

Fired off a hat trick of wins last year, but disappointed in the softer ground at Newmarket, on his final start, having gone sharply right leaving the stalls, and was unable to quicken when it mattered. Much better on his seasonal debut in the Greenham, going clear with the eventual winner Muhaarar, with Ivawood in third. Capable of going well from a low draw.

Winless in almost a year, but ran creditably at York, getting within a length of Muhaarar, but disappointed behind a few of these on his next two starts, including a disappointing fourth in a Listed on his return. Outclassed at this level.

Went unbeaten from June to October, justifying favoritism in his maiden to win by two and a half lengths, and picked off his rivals in tiny Group fields, facing only 2-4 rivals. “Won” the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Lognchamp on Arc day, but the strict French stewards promptly threw him out after causing interference, placing him third, and giving Full Mast the win (to this day, I owe them big time for that). Warrants tons of respect, but must show us he’s trained on.

Hail The Hero
Nothing special for the Ballydoyle “lads”, and was promptly sold onto Middleham Park, winning a Doncaster maiden, before punching above his weight in the Craven just over a fortnight ago, beating only one rival home. Hopelessly outclassed at this level, but will give connections a grand day out.

Home Of The Brave
Always been held in high regard, and sprung a minor upset on his seasonal debut at Newmarket, where he managed to slip the field, and scalp the 2000 Guineas hope Faydhan, who could only finish third. Despite his price, he could prove a dangerous contender if he gets an uncontested lead.

Went into the notebooks of a few after his sole start last year, and came back a different horse by charging clear to win his maiden by an impressive eight lengths, and was duly supplemented for an eyewatering £30,000 (eyewatering to us, anyway). Definitely serves his place in the line up, and it’d be a surprise if he’s not thereabouts.

Rattled off a hat trick of wins last year, but disappointed on his final start, beaten an agonizing nose in the Middle Park Stakes, and didn’t appear to stay the extra furlong in the Greenham a fortnight ago. Claims on his old form, but comes with stamina doubts.

Kool Kompany
The lovable white-faced Kool Kompany surprised everyone by getting back to winning ways over track and trip to land the Craven a fortnight ago, his first start over a mile. Understandably, Richard Hughes deserts him for his more fancied stablemate, but as a proven stayer, and only one of two course and distance winners in the field, he wouldn’t be the worst bet in the world.

Duly hosed up by seven lengths on his sole start last year, but couldn’t claw back Kool Kompany with a late burst of speed in the final furlong, to see him finish third of seven. Often is slow out of the gates, and in a race like this, he needs to be foot perfect.

Ol’ Man River
Been coming in for some support in the ante-post market, and will be ridden by Joseph O’Brien (whether that’s a good thing or not is if you like him), who has wasted away to 9st to ride him. Workmanlike on his debut, he quickly improved to pick up a Group 2 last year, and hasn’t been seen since. Solid claims if he’s fully fit.

Ride Like The Wind
An interesting outsider, who’s hit the frame on both starts this season, and won the Prix Djebel earlier this month under Mickael Barzalona, beating home Make Believe, who now misses this race. Ideally would like it softer.

Room Key
Only has a maiden win to his name, and to his credit, was once third to Highland Reel, but that was nearly a year ago. Hasn’t been seen since a weakening fifth behind Estidhkaar at Doncaster last September, and faces an almost impossible task here.

Hit the frame on all starts to date, and has form with a couple of these, having finished behind Ride Like The Wind, and Gleneagles (though he was promoted to second, having being bumped by the O’Brien inmate). Won a Group 3 on his debut, by two lengths, under a fine hands and heels ride at Longchamp, and warrants respect on the back of that run.

Conclusion: With my main ante-post pick out, I’m left with only one, and that is ELM PARK, who I’m keeping the faith with. Versatile with the ground, my only worry is that he’s not had a prep race, barring a racecourse gallop, but connections (and myself) are optimistic of a big run, and it’d be foolish for me to leave him in the eleventh hour, despite the worries over the ground.

Celestial Path and Dutch Connection will appreciate the faster ground, as could the front running Home Of The Brave, who tackles a mile for the first time, whilst the Craven winner Kool Kompany is unbeaten on good to firm, and has an ideal draw down the middle, giving him the chance to go either way, assuming the field will split.

Of the rest, the French trained Territories is worth a look if the rain falls. He has previous form with Ride Like The Wind, and Gleneagles, the latter who has been heading the betting for some time, but hasn’t been seen since “winning” on Arc day. The other Ballydoyle inmate, Ol’ Man River has become popular with punters, and is worth a second glance with Joseph slimming down to nine stone to get the leg up, whilst Intilaaq, supplemented for £30,000, isn’t hopelessly ruled out either.

Elm Park @ 20/1 E/W (Advised ante-post)
Kool Kompany @ 25/1 E/W (Generally)


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