The first British Classic of the season gets underway at Newmarket on Saturday, where Headquarters will play host to what looks a very strong 2000 Guineas. The last three renewals of this race have been won by Dawn Approach, Camelot and Frankel. Let’s just say that it is normally won by a good one! This is the 206th running of the race and so far all the attention has been on one horse – Kingman.
Kingman won impressively first time out this season. He has had leg trouble and trainer John Gosden has stated that the Khalid Abdullah owned runner will not want the ground to be very quick. Kingman looks like a really talented colt and rain will aid his chances. He’s three from three and is on and upward curve.
However, there are horses in this field capable of putting it up him. Australia is being touted as a real Derby contender and you will not see a better bred horse all season. By Galileo out of the legendary Ouija Board, this horse is loved by trainer Aidan O’Brien. He won really well at Leopardstown last season in what was a Group 3 contest and in doing so beat the highly regarded Free Eagle. Connections feel that he has enough cruising speed to contest the Guineas but Epsom looks set to be his main target. He will come one a lot for this run too.
Stablemate War Command was a really good winner of the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, he blitzed the field in Frankel like fashion. He is a really big, imposing horse and although he had a blip last season, has won at HQ before. He has a great engine and is by popular stallion War Front. He is a very likeable horse and was being aimed at the French equivalent of this race. However, he is set to take his chance here and, with Ryan Moore on board, he can go close.
Toormore was arguably the best juvenile of 2013 and it is hard to understand why his price is so much higher than that of Kingman. Richard Hannon’s colt has done absolutely nothing wrong and won on his first start this season. He is the top rated in the line-up. Like Kingman, this horse has the benefit of a winning run under his belt and he deserves massive respect. The trainer is confident of his chances. The son of Arakan has beaten some of these already. He saw off Ertijaal last year in his Maiden, he beat Outstrip in a Group 2 at Goodwood and won the National Stakes at the Curragh at the end of his juvenile campaign. He beat a smart horse named Sudirman that day. Toormore won the Craven at Newmarket last month seeing off The Grey Gatsby in the process. He was giving Kevin Ryan’s charge weight that day too. He is the best value in the race and should go close.
Kingston Hill is the Racing Post Trophy winner and is one that has a chance.The form of his 2yo Group wins has not yet been boosted and is another that would like softer ground. Of other interest is Noozhoh Canarias, a colt trained in Spain. It is not every day that we have a Spanish runner in one of the Group 1 races in Britain or Ireland and it will be interesting to see how he runs. He will be partnered by Christophe Soumillion, he’s the dark horse of the race he could be anything. The Grey Gatsby is likely to go off at a big price but is not without a chance. He has been running consistently well in Group races without winning. He will love the quick ground, and looks the each way value in the race at 50/1. Also looks like one to follow in the derby
Outstrip runs for Godolphin, won at the Breeders Cup meeting last year in great fashion. Ran better than his third in Dewhurst suggests and bold showing would not surprise. Its hard to rate Ertikaal highly based on this year´s AW wins, he has potential but needs to take form to a new level. Shifting Power runs as if he will stay 1m and still unbeaten but good deal more needed today.
The ground still firm on the Rowley Mile has led to Kingman’s price drifting. Bookmakers are keen to take this horse on and, of course, there are horses in the field that are good enough to beat him. Toormore could be the one to do just that. He is a course and distance winner and is clearly on an upward curve. Toormore, Richard Hannon’s european champion 2yo from last season can lead home War Command and The Grey Gatsby in what will be a fascinating race to watch.
Jordan McCarthy & Peter Cahill, Pundit Arena.