Punchestown was a write off and most of us are probably glad to see the back of the jumps season. The only highlight was a fine effort by Croco Bay in 3rd for us at 16/1. The focus now fully switches to the flat and the opening classics of the season. First up on Saturday are the colts in the 2000 Guineas and on paper it looks like one of the most open renewals for years. Dave Stevos has been studying the form and you can check out his 2000 Guineas preview and free tip below…
2000 Guineas Preview: The Main Contenders
As the betting indicates, the 2019 renewal of the 2000 Guineas is wide open. Ten Sovereigns is an uneasy favourite at 7/2 and he is the choice of Ryan Moore. Rumours have been emanating from Ballydoyle that he has been working more like a sprinter than a stayer. Magna Grecia also runs for Aidan O’Brien, and another Irish raider Madhmoon is also prominent in the betting. The home challenge will be spearheaded by the likes of Skardu, Advertise, Great Scot and Royal Marine. Check out what we think of the chances of all the big players below in our in depth 2000 Guineas Preview…
2000 Guineas Preview
Ten Sovereigns – 7/2
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Ryan Moore
This son of No Nay Never was unbeaten in three starts last season. He started off by winning a good ground Curragh maiden by 7L over 6f and stayed at that trip for the rest of the season. The O’Brien colt followed that up with a 4L win in the Group 3 Round Tower Stakes on good to yielding, again over 6F. He was all out to beat Jash narrowly in the Middle Park over 6f on his final start of last season.
Ten Sovereigns’ pedigree is all about speed and while he could well get a mile, that will likely be his limit. If he does win this he is unlikely to head to Epsom and to be honest, he could drop back in trip if the vibes coming from his yard are to be believed. On the figures he deserves to be favourite, but on form and pedigree it is hard to be overly confident in him. At odds of 7/2 he is overlooked.
Magna Grecia – 5/1
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Donnacha O’Brien
Although Magna Grecia looks to be the Ballydoyle second string on jockey bookings he is far from a forlorn hope. A 7f debut maiden win on good ground at Naas under Ryan Moore was followed by a neck 2nd here to Persian King in the Autumn Stakes. He handled the track well that day and finished strongly under Donnacha O’Brien. The winner has since hosed up in a Group 3 by 5L and the form looks rock solid.
Magna Grecia signed off with a head win from Phoenix Of Spain in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster (8f gd sft). He had a few of today’s rivals behind and on quicker ground the son of Invincible Spirit is capable of upholding the form. As far as pedigree goes, a mile could be the limit of his stamina reserves too. However, he is out of a Galileo dam so if either of the O’Brien runners were to go on to the Derby, this fella looks the most likely. At odds of 5/1 he has a leading chance.
Madhmoon – 15/2
Trainer: Kevin Prendergast
Jockey: Chris Hayes
This son of Dawn Approach is a very exciting prospect. Trained by Kevin Prendergast, this fella made a huge impression on his two runs last season, both at 8f. On good ground at Leopardstown he hosed up on debut, but his second start in the Group 2 Juvenile Stakes on Champions Day was even more impressive. He beat Broome easily by 2.5L and the turn of foot he showed on both those starts was electric.
Madhmoon made a pleasing return to action at Leopardstown over a trip too short and on ground too soft. He was only beaten half a length in that Listed heat and it looked like he would come on leaps and bounds for the run. On pedigree he looks more like an 8f/10f horse than a Derby horse and he could head to Royal Ascot for the St James’ Palace Stakes after this. Madhmoon is a very attractive price at 15/2 and he has a huge chance back up in trip and returned to quick ground.
Skardu – 15/2
Trainer: William Haggas
Jockey: James Doyle
The highest rated of the home challengers is Skardu, trained by shrewd handler William Haggas. A son of Shamardal, this fella is unbeaten after two starts. He was unfancied on debut here over 7f (gd/fm), sent off at 33/1. He made a mockery of those odds though, winning impressively by 2L. That was his only start as a 2yo and he made his reappearance over today’s course and distance a couple of weeks ago.
Again, he was impressive and though James Doyle had to switch him 2f out, he still managed to prevail by a neck. He had Royal Marine nearly 3L behind in 4th, but that horse pulled very hard early and could close the gap to Skardu. Given that he is proven over the trip, on the track and on the ground, he is impossible to discount. He will need to improve on his last run, but that is entirely possible and at 15/2 he has each way claims.
Advertise – 8/1
Trainer: Martyn Meade
Jockey: Frankie Dettori
Advertise was one of the most consistent 2yos last season. He has a lot more experience than some of his rivals here with five runs. He has yet to finish out of the first 2 and he has form with all the right horses. Only Too Darn Hot beat him here over 7f on his final start last season and the only other horse to lower his colours was Calyx at Royal Ascot. Everyone saw what he did during the week so it is no surprise that Advertise has shortened in the betting.
The big question mark, on pedigree at least, is whether a mile will be his best trip. He is a son of Showcasing, a big speed influence, while his dam is by another speedster in Pivotal. His trainer thinks he will get the trip and Frankie Dettori is unbeaten on him. However, with 19 horses in the field this looks sure to be run at a breakneck pace and the winner will need to get every inch of a mile. With those nagging doubts about stamina, Advertise is overlooked at odds of 8/1.
Royal Marine – 12/1
Trainer: Saeed Bin Suroor
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
This son of Raven’s Pass is another one with plenty of experience. He also has form in the book with Broome, but he only beat him by a neck. That leaves him with a couple of lengths to find with Madhmoon, but the Godolphin horse could still be on the improve. I thought he was a huge eyecatcher behind Skardu here last time.
That race was run at a muddling pace early and Royal Marine was far too keen for Soumillon. However, he did make ground late on and he did quite well to finish as close as he did. Connections reach for the hood now and that could help Royal Marine to concentrate on the job and settle better. His pedigree suggests that a mile will be his optimum trip and it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see him run a big race. At odds of 12/1 he is interesting from an each way perspective.
Al Hilalee – 16/1
Trainer: Charlie Appleby
Jockey: William Buick
This son of Dubawi is unbeaten after two starts, but only just. He ran out a ready winner here on the July Course on debut over 7f on quick ground. The form of that race hasn’t worked out but visually, he was very impressive. He was green, hung right and still won by over 3L. The way he stayed on suggested that a mile would pose no problems.
On softer ground next time at Deauville he proved he got a mile, hanging on for a narrow win in a Listed heat. He had Great Scot in behind him in 3rd that day but the Dascombe horse was perhaps a shade unlucky not to win. He has loads of stamina on the dam side of his pedigree, so if he runs well here the Derby will be on his radar. Odds of 16/1 look fair and he will likely be doing his best work in the closing stages.
Great Scot – 22/1
Trainer: Tom Dascombe
Jockey: Richard Kingscote
This son of Requinto is a really interesting outsider. He has plenty of experience and has won three of his six starts. His three defeats were all by less than 2L and he is more than entitled to take his chance here. Although he won on good to firm on debut, his best form has come with cut in the ground. He has form with plenty of these, including Magna Grecia.
The O’Brien horse was only 1L ahead of him in the Racing Post Trophy and Great Scot pulled hard early and was checked at a crucial time. He ran a cracker on good to soft on his return to action over 7f at Newbury. Great Scot was less than a length behind Mohaather and that should have put him spot on for this. The step back up to a mile will suit and he hasn’t got much to find with some of the shorter priced horses. However, the big worry is whether he is quite as good on fast ground. If he is as effective on it he won’t be far away and at 22/1 he looks overpriced.
2000 Guineas Preview – The Best Of The Rest
The 2000 Guineas is a race that has thrown up plenty of surprise results in the past. Of those at bigger prices there is one or two that could outrun their odds. Given that Skardu is single figure odds, Momkin looks a huge price at odds of 33/1. Seamie Heffernan has been booked for the ride and he has plenty of big race experience. Momkin didn’t get the clearest of runs here behind Skardu last time and was only beaten a neck. There shouldn’t be much between them again and he does look well overpriced.
Richard Hannon pulled off a huge shock with Night Of Thunder in this at massive odds a couple of years ago. In Urban Icon he could have another surprise package. He was 2/2 on good to firm last season and he ran respectably behind Mohaather and Great Scot on his seasonal return over 7f at Newbury. The ground was good to soft that day though and on good to firm he could be a different proposition. The son of Cityscape can be backed at 25/1 and he looks a real dark horse.
2000 Guineas Preview – The Verdict
Magna Grecia and Ten Sovereigns may head the market for the 2000 Guineas, but neither look bulletproof. The former is preferred of the two due to the doubts over Ten Sovereigns stamina. Great Scot, Royal Marine and Urban Icon all hold each way claims at nice odds. However, the one that they all have to beat is Madhmoon.
He looked a very special horse on his two starts as a 2yo. Okay, he was beaten on his return but 7f on soft ground did not play to his strengths. A mile on rattling quick ground at Newmarket will though, and Kevin Prendergast would not travel over unless he thought Madhmoon was capable of winning. Odds of 15/2 look very generous and Madhmoon is a confident selection. Magna Grecia, Royal Marine, Urban Icon and Great Scot can fight it out for the places.
2000 GUINEAS PREVIEW AND TIP: MADHMOON E/W @ 15/2