Guide to the leading QIPCO 2000 Guineas Contenders
26 Apr 2016
Who is going to win this year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas on Saturday - the first race in the QIPCO British Champions Series? Here’s a guide to the leading contenders.
AIR FORCE BLUE
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
General odds: 4-6 favourite
Last season’s champion two-year-old should have no trouble staying a mile and sets an extremely high standard, having won three group one contests by an aggregate of more than eight lengths. Proved his effectiveness at Newmarket when storming clear in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes in October and has shown his effectiveness on fast and easy ground.
Trainer: Ed Walker
Emphatic winner of the Craven Stakes from Foundation at Newmarket on his return, coming from last to first despite usual tendency to race keenly. Had been progressive as a two-year-old, finishing a head second to Johannes Vermeer in the group one Criterium International at Saint-Cloud. Clearly stays a mile well and very effective on soft ground.
Trainer: Owen Burrows
Went into lots of notebooks when a head second to Cymric on his debut at Sandown in July and duly went one better at Leicester two months later, despite the softish going not seeming ideal. Stepped up on those efforts when chasing home Air Force Blue in the Dewhurst and, while no match for the winner, is open to more improvement.
Trainer: Mark Johnston
Stood up well to a busy time as a juvenile, his highlight being a decisive defeat of the less-experienced Air Force Blue in the Coventry. Unable to confirm his superiority in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh a couple of months later before finishing runner-up to Shalaa in the Middle Park Stakes. Unproven beyond 6f but breeding gives hope of staying.
Trainer: Peter Chapple-Hyam
Sprung a 33-1 surprise when coming from off the pace to win the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster but that looked no fluke, albeit Foundation, the favourite, met lots of trouble in running. Had previously lost his maiden tag in good style at Newcastle and type to do better again this year.
BLUE DE VEGA
Trainer: Michael O’Callaghan
Eyecatcher when beaten on all-weather debut (slow away after being in the stalls a long time) and confirmed that initial promise when winning impressively over 7f on his next two starts, including in group three company at Leopardstown in October. Extra furlong will not be an issue and there should be plenty more to come.
Trainer: Hugo Palmer
Progressive last year and his defeat of Ibn Malik in the Qatar Vintage Stakes at Goodwood has been franked by the runner-up’s subsequent Free Handicap success. His third behind Ultra and Cymric at Longchamp in October also deserves marking up because he raced a bit keenly on ground that was a bit quick for him. Type to keep on improving, especially in a well-run race.
HERALD THE DAWN (Jim Bolger) won the group two Galileo EBF Futurity Stakes at the Curragh in August and was a close seventh to Ultra at Longchamp at the Arc meeting. However, in between, he was no match for Air Force Blue in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes. ZONDERLAND (Clive Cox) was a taking winner on his debut and not seen to best advantage when not beaten far in Group 3 contests on his next two starts. He appeals as the type to do well this year and could outrun his current odds of 66-1.