The leading Guineas contenders will be putting the final touches to their preparations for Newmarket this week, with all the trials for the race accounted for. Here we reflect on some of those races and look forward to the first Classic race of the season, offering the best betting tips for the race
Open a new account with William Hill today and get your first bet matched as a free bet up to £25 – open a new account here
Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes (The 205th Running) (British Champion Series) (Group 1) – Newmarket Saturday 4th May
The Group 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket is run over the same course and distance as the Guineas and this year’s renewal saw the impressive TORONADO (5/2 with Ladbrokes) cement his place towards the head of the market with a taking success. With only three rivals to contend with, Richard Hughes allowed the son of High Chaparral to bowl along in front before quickening clear inside the final 2 furlongs to come 4L in front of stable mate Havana Gold. Whilst a small field success doesn’t necessarily translate to a bigger field in the Guineas he was visually impressive and most pleasing of all was the way he handled the dip at Newmarket which may have been a concern before. He has made all on both of his last starts and it would be presumed he would race up with the pace at the very least come the Guineas and looking at his pedigree he ought to be a strong stayer. He showed an effective turn of foot and he will be able to maintain a strong gallop and so all of his rivals will have to keep a close eye on him as he is unlikely to prove easy to pass given that combination.
Dawn Approach (11/8 with Coral) is the favourite for the race and has been for a long time after an impressive 2 year old season, winning all 6 of his races including 2 Group 1’s. Trained by Jim Bolger in Ireland he now runs in the Godolphin colours after being bought in the latter half of last season. He will be coming into the race without a prep run but that shouldn’t be considered a disadvantage as many winners of the Guineas have successfully done this in the past. He was undeniably impressive last season and if he has done well over the winter then this race looks to be a match between him and Toronado. Richard Hannon should have a good idea of what he has to beat in Dawn Approach given that his Olympic Glory is the horse who got closest to him last term. Both act at Newmarket and appear fairly versatile ground-wise. Dawn Approach has at times taken a while to really reach top gear before staying on well in his races and because of that the verdict is given to Toronado who could well kick on from the front as he did in the Craven.
On the face of it all the other contenders have it all to do to win this and look to be running for third place. Aiden O’Brien won 4 of the 5 English Classics last season and he will saddle Mars (10/1 with Sporting Bet), Cristoforo Columbo (10/1 with Sporting Bet) and George Vancouver (16/1 with Sky Bet). Joseph O’Brien is set to ride Cristoforo Columbo who finished 3rd behind Dawn Approach in the Coventry Stakes last season. He has done all of his racing over 6f but on breeding he should get a mile but would prefer to have fast ground. He ran respectably at Group level last season but didn’t manage to get his head in front and will need to step up to feature here. Mars is an intriguing contender with just the 1 start to his name so far when an impressive maiden winner last July. He was visually very impressive that day and appears to be held in high regard, being a leading fancy for both this race and the Derby on the back of that run. He is short on inexperience and the contours of Newmarket will provide a test for him, but connections are unlikely to send him here unless they thought he could run well and certainly rates the unknown quantity in the field. The Group 1 winner in the O’Brien party is George Vancouver who last season won at the Breeders’ Cup. He had finished 3rd behind Dawn Approach prior to that in the Dewhurst at Newmarket and it is hard to see him reversing that form here. He would also ideally want good ground but needs to step up on the overall value of form he has shown so far despite that Group 1 success in America.
Away from the Aiden O’Brien runners there are several others contenders who will feel they have a good chance of picking up some prize money. Garswood (12/1 with Bet Victor) was a hugely impressive winner of the European Free Listed Handicap at Newmarket a couple of weeks ago, travelling powerfully and quickening away to win by 2L. There are a few doubts as to whether he will get a mile well but the way he travels during his races should give him every chance, especially on a sound surface. This is a big step up from running in a handicap off a mark of 106 but he handles the track and visually at least looks likely to make up into a Group performer. He has shortened in this market over the last couple of weeks from 25/1 down to 12/1 and for that reason he will be passed over as the value has gone, but he looks to have a solid each-way chance if he stays the trip
Richard Hannon looks to have a more than able second string in the form of VAN DER NEER (25/1 with Ladbrokes) who won a Listed race at Lingfield on his seasonal reappearance. He finished 2nd behind Kingsbarns in the Racing Post Trophy as a 2 year old staying on well late on and this trip should suit him well. He struggled to cope with the bend last time out at Lingfield so a return to a straight mile will suit and he should come on plenty for that run. William Buick is booked to ride and although he will find it hard to shake up the market principles, he may have been a little forgotten about due to his stable-mates presence in the race and looks a fair each-way price.
Of the other runners Moohaajim (20/1 with Betfred) looks to be the only one with any sort of chance of a decent run, but he disappointed in the Greenham Stakes finding very little off the bridle and seemingly struggling to stay 7f; the step up to a mile is unlikely to bring about improvement
TORONADO @ 5/2 with Ladbrokes
VAN DER NEER E/W @ 25/1 with Ladbrokes
With Betfred, Toronado is available at 14/1 to win both the Guineas and the Derby. He has always been seen as a Derby horse and based on pedigree he has every chance of staying 1m4f at Epsom. He is a well balanced colt and if he does win the Guineas it can be expected that his Derby price will shorten. Alternatively if you fancy Dawn Approach to do the double, he can be backed at 12/1 with Betfred; Mars can be backed to do the double at 25/1 with William Hill
TORONADO (Guineas/Derby Double) @ 14/1 with Betfred
Open a Betfred account here and get a £50 free match bet!
Follow me on Twitter: @mjj000olbg