It may well be that the 206th running of the first Classic of the season could provide initial evidence that this truly is a vintage crop of 3yr olds.
Every year we look for clues as to the merits of the current generation and sometimes they look impressive, other years not so good. You would think that with the incredible focus on the thoroughbred, the huge money that is made from the breeding industry and the quality medical care on offer that the breed would be continuing to evolve as their human equivalents have on the running track. Yet in the main the horse provides, occasionally a freak of nature like Frankel and Black Caviar, but rarely a group of times that get faster and faster over the same trip by the breed as a whole.
I always find it hard to understand how a horse in Australia can win group 1 races over 7f, 1 mile and 1 mile 2 and then come out and contest a Melbourne Cup over 2 miles and sometimes win. Admittedly the cases of this are fewer and further between but it doesn’t happen in other parts of the world where horses are specialists and its probable in this country that we may never see another Triple Crown winner – or is it?
To win from 1 mile up to 1 mile 6 is something that only Coolmore seem bothered about and that’s probably just because they haven’t done it yet. The big question in todays breeding industry of course is what use is a Group 1 Sire that has won the St Leger over 14 furlongs. In fact the same question is being whispered around the Derby and its 1 mile 4f trip. One could argue that from a breeding perspective the Oaks is far more important as we match Sire speed with Dam stamina for increasing levels of success. The answer about the St leger though is only really evident to the Jumps boys and only if the winner is also proven on soft ground.
That aside I don’t think I have been as excited about an upcoming 2000 Guineas for at least 6 years. This does look a very good crop of horses. Of the 17 still in at this stage 5 look very capable of winning on paper and that’s a high percentage in this race, when you consider there are probably 3 others that trainers think have improved out of sight and look good to them at fancy prices.
It doesn’t pay to be clever about the 2,000 Guineas. Believe your eyes and believe the stories, most times they are right. My eyes tell me that Kingman, Kingston Hill and Tooramore are very, very, good horses, none of whom have been beaten yet. The French tell me that Noozhah Canarias is one of their best for a few years and hasn’t crossed the channel for a day out and none other than Aiden O’Brien is telling me and anyone else that Australia might be his best yet. If it weren’t for Aiden telling us how good Australia was we would all be looking at War Command who rates as highly as any and Richard Hannon who has been the juvenile master for almost a decade brings to the party Shifting Power, who on ratings has a bit to do but is still unbeaten and has had a winning run this year already.
It would surprise me if the winner came form outside those 7 horses but this is a race where the little guys have to stand up and be counted. You can be assured that James Doyle wants to be covered up on Kingman and at a modest pace, such is his horse’s turn of foot, he would fancy winning in a sprint finish any day of the week. My one concern about Kingman is will he truly stay an end to end gallop over 1 mile at Newmarket. Its unforgiving, and often windy. Also if you are covered up then things have to go your way and that means I have to back my horse to win and hope it has luck in running. I was really interested at 2/1 but at even money I’m not that interested.
Conversely Joseph O’Brien, should he ride Australia, has the chance to make his own race such is his stamina pedigree that the mile holds no fears for him at all. I genuinely believe that if Coolmore are to win the Triple Crown this is their best chance with the biggest obstacle this Saturday. If Australia is being rowed along up with the pace, just after half way you, can start counting your money because it means it will all be about stamina and pace. If Joseph is sat there in the pack with a double handful at half way, kiss goodbye to you bet as they will quicken away from him.
I write about these to horses in detail as I think, unoriginally, that on the forecast good ground, the race revolves around these two. Tooramore has done nothing wrong and he will love a strong gallop and will no doubt test Australia in a finish and will account for most of them and not be out of the places. Kingston Hill, similarly was workman like in his victory and will have his day in a Group 1 this year, no doubt. War Command would be a shock winner (not a big one on the form seen) as the stable believe him to be the number 2 choice and I don’t think the French Raiders are quite up to taking our classic this year.
So that leaves the dilemma, Australia or the King. A difficult choice for Aussie royalists in days gone by. However, I’m no republican but for me its my country, Australia, which is more about the price than the geography. I can get a massive 7/2 with Betfair and I just don’t see how they can keep him out of the first three. I also don’t expect Joseph O’Brien or his dad to allow this to be any sort of dawdle. So lets get stuck in
Our Bet : 4 units e/w Australia @ 7/2 with Betfair