Guineas Storm Brewing In Newmarket

Saturday’s G1 QIPCO 2000 Guineas asks the usual set of questions, with the Classic generation due to be examined for the first time with their raw material and any flaws about to be exposed on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile which was the scene of thundery conditions on Friday afternoon. Aside from the ever-present quandary of pace positioning and ground conditions, with the latter scenario complicated by the sight of looming dense clouds on Guineas eve, there is the annual unknown of just how dominant last year’s leading 2-year-olds still are. Will Auguste Rodin (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), Little Big Bear (Ire) (No Nay Never) and Chaldean (GB) (Frankel {GB}) re-establish their superiority or will it have relinquished during the winter months? How will 2022’s speed merchants fare? Little Big Bear is in that bracket, as are fellow TDN Rising Stars Sakheer (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}) and Noble Style (GB) (Kingman {GB}), all going beyond the sacred sprinting realm of the sixth furlong. We will find out only on the day and while this is a track that divides opinion as to how stiff it is, it somehow always seems to put the fast ones into the red.


Been There…

What is different to most 2000 Guineas of recent times, and this is probably testament to how strong a season 2022 was for the juveniles, is this is very much one for the already-proven performers with barely an unexposed type to be seen. Only four of the line-up have not contested at least two group races and, of those, the aforementioned Sakheer and Noble Style were denied a second pattern-race outing only by training setbacks. When it comes to establishing fitting credentials for this Classic, Juddmonte’s Chaldean who has the combined Frankel and Frankie factor is out on his own.

Building a head of steam throughout the perfectly-aligned G1 Dewhurst S. stepping stones of the G3 Acomb S. and G2 Champagne S. over York and Doncaster’s level courses, he duly conquered the undulations of this track on Future Champions Day to bring up a treble that would have been beyond a colt with less inherent quality. Yes, he would be an extremely rare Guineas winner with a “U” in his form, having lost Dettori at the start of the G3 Greenham S., but that unfortunate incident was a mere aberration and will serve only as a curious footnote if he masters his peers once again here.

If successful, one of the operation’s rare purchases will be providing Andrew Balding with a second renewal in four years with only Aidan O’Brien, Sir Michael Stoute, Saeed bin Suroor and Andre Fabre having achieved that in recent times. The new face of Kingsclere is on his way to matching the kudos enjoyed by his father but of course the emphasis is on Frankie during the Italian’s long goodbye tour.

Dettori, whose own father Gianfranco came and conquered here on Bolkonski (Ire) to start a new racing dynasty back in 1975, has the least-complicated tactical conundrum of all as he outlined when offering his insights as an ambassador for World Pool. “The way I see it, the fancied ones are drawn 11-13, so it’s not ideal being away from them, but Chaldean is a horse who can go and run his own race,” he said. “He’s got plenty of speed, so hopefully he can get away well and be right up there from the off, just like he was in the Dewhurst and the Champagne S. His form is very solid and you know exactly what you’re getting with Chaldean–he’s bombproof–whereas the others have a bit to prove. It’s just a case of whether the others can step up to match or better what he’s shown already.”


Bad News Bear?

Supporters of Auguste Rodin, and there are many judged by the way the betting market has moved in recent weeks, will be well-served to cast their minds back to 2002 which was the last time Aidan O’Brien ran two elite performers against each other here. Rock Of Gibraltar’s defeat of Hawk Wing will live long in the memory largely due to the quality of the first two, but also because of the tactical nature of the edition with the not-unfamiliar field split playing out so dramatically on that occasion. There should be no repeat of that at least, with Little Big Bear drawn alongside his much-vaunted stablemate and fellow TDN Rising Star, but there is no guarantee that Ryan Moore’s pick will be able to peg back what was one of the best 2-year-olds to have emerged since Frankel.

Despite the nature of Little Big Bear’s G3 Anglesey S. and G1 Phoenix S. performances, which suggested strongly that a mile would be well within his compass, there was talk of Nunthorpes until his injury cut short his campaign much as it did the yard’s comparable past juvenile overlord Fasliyev. Without the proof that runs in the Vincent O’Brien National S. or Dewhurst would have provided, it is probably not far of the mark to state that even those closest to him are not sold on what type of runner he will turn out to be.

As a benchmark of brilliance, of both the permanent and precocious variety, Little Big Bear’s scintillating seven-length defeat of the G2 July S. winner Persian Force (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}) is Guineas-winning form in practically every year, even allowing for stamina concerns. Should he use his physicality to pull away Zafonic-style in what the old school used to call “the last 2-year-old race”, nobody can be truly surprised.

Ryan Moore knows both the Rosegreen undergraduates, who he states are “the two best horses in here”, better than anybody and the man with the hardest call offered the big reveal in his Betfair blog. “Little Big Bear clearly has a lot of pace, but I personally think he will stay a mile and that makes him a very dangerous rival to all,” he said. “Auguste Rodin is an exciting prospect for the season, but hopefully for the here and now, too. But would it surprise me if Little Big Bear beat him? Not really.”


One Eye On The Commonwealth…

   A glance at the 2000 Guineas records of winners of the six-furlong G2 Richmond S. and G2 Mill Reef S. offers little statistical hope for Royal Scotsman (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}) and Sakheer and, while the former did go close in the Dewhurst, there have to be doubts as to how they will cope with a strong-run mile on easy ground. While this renewal looks set to boast an above-average Guineas winner, it is also on the cards that it could contain a Commonwealth Cup winner once the dust has settled and the various teams regroup for Royal Ascot and Epsom.

Sakheer’s connections were already in the dark about the mile and, ominously, Friday’s lightning storm led to a flag start to the last race. After the double-whammy of rain on already-watered ground, they are understandably anxious. “Ideally we wouldn’t want too much more rain,” KHK Racing’s racing manager Chris Wall said. “I was a little exasperated to see that Michael Prosser had started to water the track, which seems rather an unnecessary thing to do, given that we have had the wettest spring for 40 years but there we go. The horse couldn’t be in better condition and we’re looking forward to the day. He’s a very talented horse, but we’re not sure yet what his best trip might be.”


Tahiyra Faces Big 1000 Guineas Field

Dermot Weld will be one trainer not unhappy to see Friday’s rain after he confirmed The Aga Khan’s undefeated G1 Moyglare Stud S. heroine and TDN Rising Star Tahiyra (Ire) (Siyouni {Fr}) among a cast of 20 for Sunday’s G1 QIPCO 1000 Guineas. Handed stall 15 for the feature, the half-sister to connections’ luminary Tarnawa (Ire) (Shamardal) will be reopposed by the Moyglare runner-up and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf heroine Meditate (Ire) (No Nay Never) as Ballydoyle’s lone representative after another of the stable’s leading lights Never Ending Story (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) is kept back for either ParisLongchamp or The Curragh.

Chris Hayes has the task of trying to provide Weld with a first 1000 Guineas and said, “She looked terribly exciting [in the Moyglare], she seems to have wintered well so I’m looking forward to it. I’m very excited, to get on any favourite in a Classic is rare, for me it’s the stuff of dreams so we’ll see what we can do. Obviously, like the boss has said, there’s always the question if they train on from two to three, but on her home work she appears to have and she’s just a pleasure. She’ll never get you excited going up the gallops but she turns it on at the races.”

Alongside Never Ending Story, Juddmonte’s G3 Dick Poole Fillies’ S. winner Juliet Sierra (GB) (Bated Breath {GB}) was the only other not to be confirmed and Godolphin’s decision to run a trio of contenders is one of many indicators that very few are running scared of the Weld filly. This is the biggest assembly since Finsceal Beo (Ire) (Mr. Greeley) mastered 20 rivals in 2007, two years before Saeed bin Suroor enjoyed his last English Classic victory. The trainer has live prospects of ending that drought with TDN Rising Star Mawj (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), who bids to confirm the form of the Jumeirah Fillies Classic with William Buick’s pick of Charlie Appleby’s duo, Dream Of Love (Ire) (Shamardal).

Amo Racing’s Classic dream lives on through the impressive G3 Nell Gwyn S. winner Mammas Girl (GB) (Havana Grey {GB}), who is nearest the stand’s rail in 20 while on the opposite wing is Marc Chan and Andrew Rosen’s G1 Cheveley Park S. heroine Lezoo (GB) (Zoustar {Aus}). She gives Ralph Beckett a strong hand along with Julian Richmond-Watson’s unbeaten G3 Fred Darling S. scorer Remarquee (GB) (Kingman {GB}) in a fascinating encounter which could yet be shaped by the local storm.

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