It’s no surprise to see Aidan O’Brien dominating the 2000 Guineas betting as the Ballydoyle trainer goes in search of his seventh winner of the colts' classic. Gleneagles is the ante-post favourite and could be joined by Highland Reel, Ol’ Man River and War Envoy from the O’Brien stable.
Handicapper’s Top Rated 2000 Guineas Entries
It’s the handicapper’s job to assess the relative performances of the horses. As most of the ratings were earned during their first season, the 2000 Guineas contenders will be expected to improve by quite a margin on their current assessment.
Belardo – 119
Robert Varian’s colt forced himself into the classic picture when quickening well to land the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October. The race has produced four classic winners from nine previous renewals and is probably the best two-year-old event to identify a future champion.
The son of Lope De Vega looked in need of the run on his reappearance in the Greenham when beating only one horse home. The winner, Muhaarar will probably miss the 2000 Guineas but Belardo will need to show a big improvement to overturn the form on Estidkhaar, Ivawood and Code Red who all finished in front of him that day.
Elm Park – 117
Finished third on his racecourse debut at Sandown and won all four subsequent starts. A winner over course and distance in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes in September before going on to Group 1 victory in the Racing Post Trophy.
Andrew Balding will send Elm Park to Newmarket without the benefit of a warm up race.
Ivawood – 117
The Richard Hannon-trained colt earned a rating of 118 following an impressive win in the Group 2 Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. He failed to live up to expectations on his re-appearance when third in the Greenham but his trainer is expecting 10-12lb improvement when he takes his place at Newmarket.
The Wow Signal – 116
This son of Australian sire Starspangledbanner won three times as a juvenile including the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group 1 Prix Morny in France. However, he failed when upped in distance to seven furlongs in the Grand Criterium for which he went off favourite and there must be doubts about his ability to see out a mile.
Estidhkaar – 115
Richard Hannon’s classic hopeful was runner up on his debut before going on to chalk up a hattrick of victories, including two Group 2 successes. He disappointed when favourite for the Dewhurst on soft ground in October but put that setback behind him when second in the Greenham on his re-appearance.
Bookmakers Top Rated 2000 Guineas Entries
The bookmakers take a pragmatic approach in making their assessments and react quickly when punters back up their opinions with cold, hard cash.
Aidan O’Brien’s colt established himself at the head of the 2000 Guineas betting market after finishing first past the post in the Grand Criterium at Longchamp in October (see video above for re-run of the race). The son of Galileo was subsequently disqualified for interference to Full Mast and Territories although few would argue he was the best horse on the day.
There is a question mark over the value of the Longchamp form as Burnt Sugar and War Envoy finished close up in fourth and fifth and neither are considered serious classic prospects. However, reports from Ballydoyle suggest Gleneagles has wintered well and he has been heavily supported in the ante-post market.
Richard Hannon saddled two horses for the Greenham at Newbury this month and it was Estidhkaar who finished ahead of the more fancied Ivawood. The son of Dark Angel finished runner up to Muhaarar in a genuine 2000 Guineas trial which also included Belardo, Code Red and Flaming Spear.
The first and second forged clear of the field in the latter stages and Estidhkaar looked like the step up to a mile at Newmarket will suit him well. Quoted at 14/1 following his Greenham run, Hannon’s colt has been backed in to a more realistic 7/1.
Andre Fabre said he intends to supplement Territories for the colt’s classic after a convincing win on his successful reappearance in the Group 3 Prix de Fountainbleu at Longchamp earlier this month.
The son of Invincible Spirit allayed any doubts about getting a mile when winning under hands and heels for jockey Mickael Barzalona and it must be remembered, he was coming back at Gleneagles in the closing stages of the Grand Criterium last season.
Andrew Balding’s colt was marked down as a Derby prospect when winning the Racing Post Trophy over a mile at Doncaster as a juvenile. However, his handler is confident the son Phoenix Reach has the speed to justify his place in the field as long as the going is not too firm.
The bookies are taking no chances and if the going ends up on the soft side of good those odds could shorten up even more.
The Galileo colt is another major 2000 Guineas contender for Aidan O’Brien. His odds eased after the gamble on stable mate Gleneagles but he is proven over a mile and was an easy winner of the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on his most recent outing last summer.