RUNNER BY RUNNER GUIDE
1 (5) – Al Suhail (Dubawi x Shirocco Star (Shirocco), Charlie Appleby/Godolphin/James Doyle, 3yo colt, OR112, Form: 2132-)
For one so stoutly bred on the distaff side of his pedigree (as a son of Epsom Oaks runner-up Shirocco Star (Shirocco x Spectral Star (Unfuwain)) and a half-brother to last year’s Dante Stakes winner Telecaster (New Approach x Shirocco Star (Shirocco)), Al Suhail has shown an eye-catching amount of both precocity & speed in his four starts to date. However, on more than one occasion, Al Suhail has proven notably weak in the finish having loomed as a major threat; indeed he traded odds-on in-running on each of the three times he has met defeat, all of which have been by a length or less, most notably when pulling some 7 lengths clear of the Group 3 Autumn Stakes field with Military March, but going down by half a length at the finish. Was he outbattled? Did he not see out the 1 mile trip on soft ground? Did he leave enough for the finish having raced so keenly through the race in a hood? Or perhaps a combination of the three?
Based on Al Suhail’s pedigree, it would be very surprising if there was not more improvement forthcoming as a 3 year old this year. However, given the speed he shows, it would not be overly surprising to see him revert to 6-7 furlongs further down the line; nevertheless, the form of Al Suhail’s Autumn Stakes defeat puts him in the picture here.
2 (13) – Arizona (No Nay Never x Lady Ederle (English Channel), A P O’Brien/Mrs John Magnier & Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith/Ryan Moore, 3yo colt, OR116, Form: 2114325-)
Alongside Group 1 July Cup winner Ten Sovereigns (No Nay Never x Seeking Solace (Exceed And Excel)) and fellow stablemate Wichita (who joins him in this line-up), Arizona flew the flag for his sire No Nay Never (Scat Daddy x Cat’s Eye Witness (Elusive Quality)) last year, with his Group 2 Coventry Stakes success the beginning of a wave of big race wins that saw No Nay Never’s 3rd crop yearlings sell for as much as 900,000gns, and sent his stud fee soaring to €175,000 for his 6th breeding season, in which he was reported to have attracted the likes of Group 1 winners Hermosa (Galileo x Beauty Is Truth (Pivotal)), Airwave (Air Express x Kangra Valley (Indian Ridge)), Maybe (Galileo x Sumora (Danehill)), Peeping Fawn (Danehill x Maryinsky (Sadler’s Wells)) & Bracelet (Montjeu x Cherry Hinton (Green Desert)) as well as Group 1 producers Shermeen (Desert Style x Cover Girl (Common Grounds)), Sun Bittern (Seeking The Gold x Sunray Superstar (Nashwan)) & Muravka (High Chaparral x Tabdea (Topsider)).
Arizona was a half-length winner of last year’s Group 2 Coventry Stakes prior to placing twice in 4 subsequent starts, all at Group 1 level, including when faring best of the Ballydoyle squadron that finished 2-3-4-5 behind Pinatubo in the 2019 Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes. Arizona’s most recent start came on his only try at a mile in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, a race that was lost at the start for Arizona as he missed the break badly, finding himself at the rear of the field for the majority of a contest that looked falsely-run (as implied by the fact that less than 3 lengths covered the first 8 horses home).
Arizona can be forgiven that run, but he still is yet to convince that he truly stays a mile. Moreover, the last horse to win the 2000 Guineas having had as many as 7 career starts was Rock Of Gibraltar (Danehill x Offshore Boom (Be My Guest)) back in 2002, having won 5 of his 7 juvenile starts, as opposed to Arizona’s two career wins; he looks vulnerable to improvers, for all that he is respected on the pick of his form.
3 (10) – Cepheus (Sea The Stars x Crimson Cheer (Van Nistelrooy), Brian Meehan/G P M Morland/Jim Crowley, 3yo colt, Form: 1-)
Trainer Brian Meehan has had just 27 first-time-out winners in the last 10 seasons from 470 debutants (5.7%), yet 8 of those 27 (29.6%) have gone on to win Stakes races, and all 8 were seemingly unfancied on debut having started at double figure odds, including subsequent Group 3 winners Blue Bayou (Bahamian Bounty x Oshiponga (Barathea)) at 28.0 BSP, J Wonder (Footstepsinthesand x Canterbury Lace (Danehill)) at 29.0 BSP and Agent Murphy (Cape Cross x Raskutani (Dansili)) at 50.0 BSP.
Fitting the bracket nicely is Cepheus, who surprised a few on debut when defying a BSP of 39.0 to score in a 7f maiden at Newmarket’s July Course, quickening up well under Oisin Murphy to deny the Charlie Appleby-trained Volkan Star (Sea The Stars x Chicago Dancer (Azamour)), who would boost the form by bolting up on his next start at Goodwood. The time of the race was nothing special, but Cepheus could do little more than beat what was in front of him; he was put away for the season thereafter.
As a son of Sea The Stars (Cape Cross x Urban Sea (Miswaki), Cepheus likely can find improvement both as a 3 year old and up a furlong in distance. However, he is being pitched right in the deep end on his 2nd start and looks set to struggle here, for all that he could prove up to Stakes class in the future.
4 (14) – Juan Elcano (Frankel x Whatami (Daylami), Kevin Ryan/Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum/Andrea Atzeni, 3yo colt, OR108, Form: 123-)
As nicks go, Frankel (Galileo x Kind (Danehill)) crossed with Daylami (Doyoun x Daltawa (Miswaki)) mares is proving very influential indeed thus far, with unbeaten St. Leger winner Logician (Frankel x Scuffle (Daylami)) leading the pack, flanked by Listed winner Collide (Frankel x Scuffle (Daylami)) and emerging Oaks candidate Frankly Darling (Frankel x Hidden Hope (Daylami)), with the ill-fated pair of Invictus Spirit (Frankel x Daring Aim (Daylami)) & Marechal Nay (Frankel x Hidden Hope (Daylami)) never reaching their full potential, having both passed away after just 3 career starts. Notably, out of this quintet, only Frankly Darling saw the track as a juvenile, having had the one start at the backend of October last year.
The 6th and final horse to have seen the track bred on the same cross is Juan Elcano, who not only made his winning debut as early as June in his 2 year old season but also, with his 3rd placing in last year’s Group 2 Superlative Stakes at his 2nd start, ran the 2nd highest Timeform rating that any progeny of Frankel has run as early as the July of their 2 year old season, 2nd only to the late Fair Eva (Frankel x African Rose (Observatory)). Given one more run in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, in which he ran a highly-respectable 3rd, Juan Elcano was put away for the winter.
The fact that Juan Elcano has reached this level of form (and a rating of OR108) not only as a juvenile, but also at a distance as sharp as 7 furlongs, bodes extremely well for his future prospects, and he can be expected to make giant strides as a 3 year old; there could be an awful lot more to come from Juan Elcano and he rates as a very lively outsider in this contest, for all that he will likely find further improvement stepped up again in distance to 1m2f+.
5 (15) – Kameko (Kitten’s Joy x Sweeter Still (Rock Of Gibraltar), Andrew Balding/Qatar Racing Limited/Oisin Murphy, 3yo colt, OR118, Form: 1221-)
Son of Kitten’s Joy (El Prado x Kitten’s First (Lear Fan)), Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduate, owned by Qatar Racing, made a winning debut at a Group 1 track before progressing to run massive races in both the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes & Group 1 Racing Post Trophy as a two year old. Does this sound familiar? Kameko has a fair way to go if he is to fill the void left by the late 4-time Group 1 winner Roaring Lion (Kitten’s Joy x Vionnet (Street Sense)), but he has thus far proven to be another well-bought son of Kitten’s Joy by David Redvers and his Qatar Racing team, as $90,000 yearling Kameko has made a very bright start to his career, with his juvenile season culminating in an emphatic 3 1/4 length victory in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy.
However, that Group 1 win came on the tapeta at Newcastle (with Doncaster abandoned due to heavy ground), and the question remains whether Kameko will be able to translate that level of form back to turf. Moreover, the searching straight mile at Newcastle looked to suit Kameko’s running style: he looks a thorough galloper, and one who will likely show his best once stepped up to 1m2f+. Kameko can run well here, but might also be one more for the longer term.
6 (6) – Kenzai Warrior (Karakontie x Lemon Sakhee (Lemon Drop Kid), Roger Teal/Rae And Carol Borras/Jason Watson, 3yo colt, OR102, Form: 11-)
2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie (Bernstein x Sun Is Up (Sunday Silence)) had his first 2 year old’s in 2019 and made a pleasing enough start to his stallion career, siring 3 Stakes winners between Europe and America. Leading his progeny into 2020 is Kenzai Warrior, who has not put a foot wrong in his two starts to date, first when justifying some late support to score on debut in a 1m novice at Salisbury, denying subsequent Group 3 scorer Max Vega (Lope De Vega x Paraphernalia (Dalakhani)) in the process, before maintaining his unbeaten record in the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes at Newmarket (transferred from Newbury) where, in heavy conditions, Kenzai Warrior showed battling qualities to get up late in the 7f contest.
Kenzai Warrior represents yet another high-class horse bred from John & Tanya Gunther’s Glennwood Farm in recent years, following on from the likes of US Triple Crown winner Justify (Scat Daddy x Stage Magic)), Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso (Curlin x Mythical Bride (Street Cry)) and St. James’ Palace Stakes winner Without Parole (Frankel x Without You Babe (Lemon Drop Kid)), all of which have come in the last two seasons.
Trainer Roger Teal is no stranger to the 2000 Guineas, having produced Tip Two Win (Dark Angel x Freddie’s Girl (More Than Ready)) to finished 2nd in the 2018 renewal. However, whilst Kenzai Warrior is respected as an unbeaten Group 3 winner, he still has an awful lot of stepping up to do here.
7 (12) – Kinross (Kingman x Ceilidh House (Selkirk), Ralph Beckett/J H Richmond-Watson/Harry Bentley, 3yo colt, OR105, Form: 15-)
You would do well to find a bigger impression made on debut amongst all of the 2 year olds last year than the one made by Kinross, whose 8 length romp in a 7f novice at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile caught the eye in a major way, especially for a juvenile making their debut. The list of juveniles to have won on debut at either Newmarket track by 5 lengths or more since the turn of the century is very short indeed, yet amongst that group can be counted multiple Group 1 winners Kingman (Invincible Spirit x Zenda (Zamindar)), Farhh (Pivotal x Gonbarda (Lando)) & Motivator (Montjeu x Out West (Gone West)), as well as the immensely-talented Calyx (Kingman x Helleborine (Observatory)).
Such was the impression made by Kinross on debut that he was fast-tracked into the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy, held last year on the tapeta at Newcastle, where the market sent him off a well-backed 2.70 BSP favourite. Unfortunately, Kinross failed to fully see out the searching mile down Newcastle’s straight, travelling well until 300 yards from home when his stride began to shorten rather dramatically, and he duly weakened into 5th place; whether the interference he suffered after 2 furlongs when sandwiched between Mogul (Galileo x Shastye (Danehill)) & Verboten (No Nay Never x Far Away Eyes (High Chaparral)) had any impact on his beaten margin remains to be seen.
Put away for the winter thereafter, Kinross looks well worth another try at a mile, and will surely prove himself of Group 1 calibre this season; whether he proves that here remains to be seen, with the stable’s early runners not quite meeting market expectations thus far.
8 (3) – Military March (New Approach x Punctilious (Danehill), Saeed bin Suroor/Godolphin/Hector Crouch, 3yo colt, OR113, Form: 11-)
Military March comes forward here as one of 5 runners in the race still carrying a perfect record and, behind red-hot favourite Pinatubo, he looks to hold the clear next best claims in the field of that unbeaten quintet. The market has spoken for Military March on both of his starts to date and he has duly obliged, most notably when pulling 7 lengths clear of the field with the re-opposing Al Suhail in last year’s Group 3 Autumn Stakes (over today’s course and distance) in a race that ranked as one of the strongest pieces of juvenile form on the clock all season. Military March showed both battling qualities and Group 1 class in his last race, and looks set for a big campaign this year; indeed, it is not surprising that he is favourite for the Epsom Derby at the time of writing.
As a racehorse, Military March’s sire New Approach (Galileo x Park Express (Ahonoora)) came within inches of winning the 2000 Guineas, agonisingly denied by the Aidan O’Brien-trained Henrythenavigator (Kingmambo x Sequoyah (Sadler’s Wells)) before he got his Classic a month later, running out a half-length winner of the 2008 Epsom Derby. However, he has gone one better as a stallion, siring winners of both the 2000 Guineas with Dawn Approach (New Approach x Hymn Of The Dawn (Phone Trick)) in 2013 and the Epsom Derby with Masar (New Approach x Khawlah (Cape Cross)) in 2018.
Whilst Military March is respected in this context, it would not be surprising to see him run an excellent Epsom trial in defeat here, with the 2000 Guineas having launched (since the turn of the century) placed horses Sir Percy (Mark Of Esteem x Percy’s Lass (Blakeney), Australia (Galileo x Ouija Board (Cape Cross)), New Approach & Masar into Epsom glory a month later.
9 (1) – Mums Tipple (Footstepsinthesand x Colomone Cross (Xaar), Richard Hannon/Marian Lyons & Patricia Zanelli/Sean Levey, 3yo colt, OR115, Form: 117-)
It may not have been a Group race, but it was not hard to spot Mums Tipple as a Group horse all over when he pulverized 20 rivals by upwards of 11 lengths in the 6f Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sales race at York’s Ebor Meeting last August, running a time (69.32s) that was most noteworthy for a 2 year old having just their 2nd career start.
Following a reported flurry of unsuccessful big-money offers, Mums Tipple was fast-tracked to Group 1 company for the Middle Park Stakes, where his York exploits saw him sent off a 3.26 BSP 2nd favourite, marginally behind the 3.09BSP favourite Earthlight (Shamardal x Winters Moon (New Approach)), who was coming into the race off the back of a win in the Group 1 Prix Morny; Group 1 Phoenix Stakes winner Siskin (First Defence x Bird Flown (Oasis Dream)) was similarly priced in the market prior to being withdrawn at the start. Unfortunately, the race did not go to plan, with Mums Tipple reported to have been kicked in the gate prior to running 7th of the 8 runners; he was later found to be lame on his left-fore post-race.
Put away for the season thereafter, Mums Tipple is stepped a full 2 furlongs in distance to tackle the mile here, and he looks vulnerable at the distance given the blazing speed he showed at York. Mums Tipple may struggle to get home here, and looks likely to be racing back at 6-7 furlongs sooner rather than later.
10 (8) – New World Tapestry (War Front x Tapestry (Galileo), A P O’Brien/Tabor/Smith/Mrs Magnier/Flaxman Stables/Adam Kirby, 3yo colt, OR89, Form: 3418–3)
As the first foal of Tapestry (Galileo x Rumplestiltskin (Danehill)), the filly who famously brought Taghrooda’s (Sea The Stars x Ezima (Sadler’s Wells)) winning streak to an end in the 2014 Yorkshire Oaks, New World Tapestry is blessed with a pedigree of Group 1 potential. Unfortunately, he has yet to live up to his breeding, winning just 1 of his 5 starts to date, leaving him currently on an official rating of OR89.
Essentially, New World Tapestry has an awful lot to find in this contest, and can be left out of calculations; he can play his part in the race, but it may not be in the closing stages.
11 (11) – Persuasion (Acclamation x Effervesce (Galileo), Charles Hills/Mrs Susan Roy/Kieran Shoemark, 3yo colt, OR99, Form: 162-)
As the latest addition to the honour roll of the 7f colts & geldings 2yo maiden at Glorious Goodwood, Persuasion has a lot to live up to, as the winners of 4 of the last 5 renewals have gone on to perform at Group 1 level, the exception being 2018 winner Duke Of Hazzard (Lope De Vega x With Your Spirit (Invincible Spirit)), who has all but established himself as a Group 1 performer, with his last 3 runs of 2019 seeing him victorious at Listed, Group 3 and (latterly) Group 2 level.
Following on from his winning debut, Persuasion proved disappointing when sent to post as favourite for the Acomb Stakes at York, before bouncing back (to a degree) to finish 2nd to the re-opposing Wichita, albeit 7 lengths behind. On his bare form, Persuasion has too much to find in this context, and it will be a big surprise if he is in the shake-up.
12 (7) – Pinatubo (Shamardal x Lava Flow (Dalakhani), Charlie Appleby/Godolphin/William Buick, 3yo colt, OR128, Form: 111111-)
What more can you say about Pinatubo’s 2 year old campaign? 6 wins from 6 starts in 2019, a dominant winner of both the Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and the 7f Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood prior to an eye-watering 9 length win in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh, a performance that left Pinatubo on an official rating of OR128, establishing him as the highest-rated 2 year old of the last 25 years.
Pinatubo’s 6th and final race of 2019 came in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, where he got the job done without showing the brilliance of his Curragh performance. However, Pinatubo looked to be in a disadvantageous position of the track, racing 2nd furthest off the rail throughout (the other 3 that were furthest from the stand’s side rail would finish 6th, 7th & 8th of the 9 runners), and time may prove that he did very well to win as he did, seeing off the re-opposing Arizona to score by 2 lengths.
As with so many juveniles that show as much as he did, the question lingers: will Pinatubo ‘train on’ and reach the same dizzying heights as his juvenile campaign? Does he need to be at his very best to emerge victorious here? Perhaps not; without wanting to state the obvious, Pinatubo is far and away the one to beat.
13 (2) – Royal Dornoch (Gleneagles x Bridal Dance (Danehill Dancer), A P O’Brien/Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith & Mrs John Magnier/Tom Marquand, 3yo colt, OR110, Form: 0237151-)
Alongside stablemate Royal Lytham (Gleneagles x Gotlandia (Anabaa)), Royal Dornoch led the way for freshman sire Gleneagles (Galileo x You’resothrilling (Storm Cat)) last year as the pair captured Group 2’s at Newmarket’s July Course & Rowley Mile respectively, with Royal Dornoch engaging in a thrilling final furlong tussle with Kameko in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes, overhauling him just yards from the line to score by a neck.
That Royal Lodge win represented not only a big step up in form from Royal Dornoch, but also a small shock (as a BSP of 20.3 would imply), having shown himself to be very much ‘of a level’ in his 6 prior starts. Given that was his only try at a mile to date (and it came over this course & distance), Royal Dornoch has a squeak in this context but, on the bare bones of his form, he has an awful lot of stepping up to do still to figure here.
14 (4) – Starcat (Lope De Vega x Purr Along (Mount Nelson), Hughie Morrison/Martin Hughes & Michael Kerr-Dineen, 3yo colt, Form: 1-)
The market support for on debut for Starcat was unmistakable, as waves of support kept coming right up to the off, being matched as high as 170.0 on the exchanges in the morning, and jumping off at a BSP of 11.0, the lowest price that he had been matched at prior to the off. Moreover, in what looked to be a red hot 1m novice at Kempton last December, Starcat duly obliged at the first time of asking, seeing off the blue-blooded, highly-touted Eastern Destiny (Dubawi x Eastern Joy (Dubai Destination)) in the process, with the field well-strung out in behind. Time-wise, Starcat clocked the fastest winning time of all 28 juvenile races held over 1m at Kempton in 2019, and he backed that up with the 4th fastest closing 3f sectionals of the 328 juveniles that contested those 28 races, all very encouraging signs.
Starcat is being pitched right into the deep end here and, whilst he made an excellent impression (both visually & on the clock) on debut, this could all come a bit too soon for him; provided this race does not have any adverse effect on his development, Starcat remains one to follow going forward, especially with a view to stepping up to 1m2f in time.
15 (9) – Wichita (No Nay Never x Lumiere Noire (Dashing Blade), A P O’Brien/Derrick Smith & Mrs John Magnier & Michael Tabor, 3yo colt, OR114, Form: 1213-)
For the 3rd Group 1 running, Pinatubo comes up against a squadron of 4 rivals from Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle Stables and, as was the case last time out in the Dewhurst Stakes, Wichita gets the call-up to his quartet.
Aidan O’Brien has proven himself a master of producing his colts ‘first up’ to win the 2000 Guineas: all 10 of his previous 2000 Guineas winners were making their seasonal debut. However, just 2 of those 10 winners were coming into the opening Classic off the back of a defeat.
Wichita earned his place in Group 1 races with a most emphatic 7 length win in the Group 3 Somerville Tattersall Stakes at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile last year over 7 furlongs, slamming the Charlie Hills-trained Persuasion, who re-opposes. However, the winning time that day was good (without being exceptional), the form of the race hasn’t stood up to an awful lot of testing yet, and Wichita was noted for being pushed right out to the line by Ryan Moore. Wichita proved underwhelming in the Dewhurst Stakes on his final start of 2019, with the soft ground not looking to his liking (noted for moving poorly to post). He may not have done badly to finish 3rd in the circumstances and, if Friday’s rain has not got into the ground too badly, Wichita can fare best of the Ballydoyle battalion, despite the booking of Ryan Moore aboard stablemate Arizona suggesting otherwise.
HOW WILL THE RACE UNFOLD
The starting stalls have been positioned on the stand’s side of the nearside course for 4 of the last 10 runnings of the 2000 Guineas and, in those 4 races, the stand’s side rail has proven influential, with both Gleneagles (Galileo x You’resothrilling (Storm Cat)) & Churchill (Galileo x Meow (Storm Cat)) making their winning runs hard up against the rail, as well as 2016 winner Galileo Gold (Paco Boy x Galicuix (Galileo)) drifting across to complete his final furlong up the same strip of ground. If there is a skew in the draw, it may favour the higher numbers and, if the wind over the last two days is anything to go by, those racing prominently may be seen to better effect. With that in mind, it would be little surprise to see Arizona, Juan Elcano & Kameko race prominently from stalls 13, 14 & 15 respectively, with stamina at the trip assured, at least for the latter two. Closer to the middle of the pack, Pinatubo has two Ballydoyle horses to his immediate left, and it would be little surprise to see them go an honest clip, with New World Tapestry more likely to go forward than stablemate Wichita. Amongst the lower draws, Military March can push forward with stamina assured, as can Kenzai Warrior. From stall 1, Mums Tipple may take plenty of holding on to from Sean Levey, who might try to ride him a touch colder to give him a better chance of seeing out the mile. Hold-up performers Kinross & Persuasion could prove vulnerable if the tailwind persists; similar comments can apply to Pinatubo, albeit to a lesser extent.
It might not be the headline performance that racing craves (from the perspective of capturing the nation’s attention & imagination), but Pinatubo can confirm his Champion juvenile status with a win here, and continue a good start made to the QIPCO Guineas Festival by trainer Charlie Appleby and jockey William Buick. In a finish that can be dominated by Godolphin, Al Suhail can run well here without winning, as can Military March, who can set himself up for a big run at Epsom early next month. If there is a fly in the ointment, it could be Juan Elcano, who has a lot of improvement to come both with age and with extra distance; with the rail to help, a positive ride can see him outrun his very long odds.