2000 Guineas 2010 Preview
After the last hoorah of the Punchestown Festival on Saturday, dear reader, and also the traditional British curtain call for the National Hunt at Sandown, it's now all systems go for the Flat season.
This week, Iâ€™ll be taking a look forward to the first two of the British Classics, the 1000 and 2000 Guineas this weekend.
Both races are run over a straight mile at Newmarket and, over the years, it has proven to be an interesting and less than straightforward challenge to find the winner.
Successful selection has demanded one to assimilate two year old form from UK, Ireland and France; to project which horses were more likely to improve from their juvenile year to the classic season; and to interpret whether a fitness edge from a Guineas trial was material or otherwise.
The Newmarket meeting is spread over both days this coming weekend, and the first of the features is the 2000 Guineas on Saturday.
It is a rarity indeed for one of the lesser stables to lift this high class prize and, to that end, there are some strong trainer trends in recent years.
Aidan Oâ€™Brienâ€™s mighty battalion has won a staggering five of the last dozen renewals; and Saeed bin Suroor and Sir Michael Stoute have each chipped in with two of the last fourteen. Anything this trio runs must make the shortlist.
Aside from Oâ€™Brien, this is a fantastic event for the Irish, with Dermot Weld and John Oxx also on the roll of honour since 2003 (the latter last year with the incredible Sea The Stars).
Eleven of the last fourteen winners had won last time out and all of them were in the first three last time. Being such a top race, that does little to whittle down the serious contenders in the field.
Perhaps a more interesting stat is that only three winners in the last eleven years had won a Group 1 race as a juvenile. Trying to find some logic to support this seemingly perverse observation, I suspect it has to do with the most mature two year olds winning the Group 1 races but, thereafter, having less scope for improvement than others. So it may follow that those weaker or less forward can improve at three, beyond the level of form demonstrated in juvenile Group 1 races.
Assuming that rationale holds water, which I shall, this counts against a number at the top of the market, including St Nicholas Abbey, the ante-post hot favourite. Awzaan, the third favourite, is in the same boat having looked a thoroughly complete juvenile when racking up a four timer including wins in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes and Group 1 Middle Park Stakes.
Although Sea The Stars famously did not, nine of the last eleven 2000 Guineas winners made a winning start in their juvenile season. Beethoven and Hearts of Fire look to have it to do on that count.
In recent years, the market has been an excellent guide to the first Classic, with only 25/1 Cockney Rebel causing a shock. All other winners in the last decade paid 11/1 or less for your wager. Conversely, and perhaps another chink in the St Nicholas Abbey armour, only one favourite has won since Zafonic way back in 1993.
From a profiling perspective then, I would be looking for a horse that was fancied in the market; had won first time out last season; also won last time out, and had won a Group race though not a Group 1; and ideally from an Irish stable, or bin Suroor or Stouteâ€™s yard.
Fencing Master, a neck second in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes on just his second start, looks capable of significant improvement and ticks all the boxes, except the price element (Iâ€™d expect him to truncate in the market between now and next Saturday). Although he was beaten by stable mate Beethoven that day, the winner was having the tenth run of his juvenile season!
Iâ€™d be confident of Fencing Master reversing the places if both line up and, at 16/1 at the time of writing (as short as 12â€™s with Coral), he looks good value. [Stop press: Beethoven is not now running, meaning I'm even more confident of FM reversing the places!]
The other thing I wanted to touch on today were two fantastic days at the end of last week, where I sat down at a private meeting with some of my Platinum Programme students for the first time.
The sessions were excellent: full of really enthusiastic and knowledgeable horse racing systemites looking to build their own businesses in this great area.
There were a number of things about the two days which I found uplifting:
1. The verve and vibe in the room was totally energising. I know that sounds a bit 'kooky', but you have to realise that whilst I love what I do and wouldn't trade it for anything, it can be quite lonely sometimes. So, to sit in a room and share ideas with ten plus people who are passionate about the same things that I am was incredible.
2. The universal belief that we have to put more good betting systems and services out there to make it so much harder for the scumbags and rip-off merchants to make money. All of the people at those two meetings were totally dedicated to providing the best quality they possibly can, and to raising the bar in our community. As you might know, that's something of an aspiration of mine, so I'm very excited to help these guys get on!
3. Almost everyone already had a great system or service that they'd been trialing or using for themselves, and a number of them will be commercially scalable (in other words, lots of people can use them without removing the profitability). This means that soon enough, I'd hope to see some of these guys making a name for themselves.
As uplifting and inspiring as those two days were, they were also quite 'knackering', as I had to do a LOT of speaking to get all the info across. My voice has packed up on me for now (Mrs Matt is thrilled!), and I'm on the 'easy list' for a couple of days.
But I've got much more for you this week, including a 1000 Guineas preview probably tomorrow, and a revisit of a cracking fun system that landing some tidy bets last year (including The Last Derby at 25/1).
So stay tuned!
That's all for today. I've backed Fencing Master as a value alternative to St Nicholas Abbey. Who do you like in the boys' Classic? Leave a comment below...