Tag Archive for: Qipco 2000 Guineas

Ghostwriter gallop sparking Cox’s Classic dream

Clive Cox has been buoyed by a racecourse gallop ahead of Ghostwriter’s Qipco 2000 Guineas bid, confident his smart Newmarket form can prove a positive in the opening Classic of the season.

The son of Invincible Spirit was unbeaten throughout his two-year-old season and finished 2023 with a statement victory on the Rowley Mile in the Royal Lodge Stakes.

With that experience under the colt’s belt, Cox was happy to forego an early-season trial in favour of a pipe-opener at Kempton, with Ghostwriter – a general 14-1 shot to claim the scalp of Aidan O’Brien’s odds-on favourite City Of Troy on May 4 – reported to have thrived over the winter.

“I’m very happy with Ghostwriter and he has his Newmarket course form,” explained Cox.

“I’m very pleased he has done exceptionally well over the winter and we will be going there with a racecourse gallop under his belt. He’s done very well and that is why he hasn’t run in a trial.

“He’s been to Kempton and he’s a very athletic, clean-winded horse who has done well over the winter and we think that will have benefitted him far more than racing on testing ground, with his previous experience at Newmarket hopefully holding him in good stead.”

Another star juvenile for the Beechdown Stables team last season was the Kennet Valley-owned Dragon Leader, who suffered defeat just the once in five starts in 2023 as he proved a real money-spinner for connections.

Dragon Leader has been a real money-spinner for connections
Dragon Leader has been a real money-spinner for connections (PA)

Big victories at York and Redcar sandwiched a near miss in a valuable Doncaster event and Cox is eyeing stepping the son of El Kabeir up in trip this term when ground conditions allow him to return to action.

“He was a very productive runner last year earning over £300,000 in prize-money,” continued Cox.

“I’m pleased to say he’s wintered well, but he’s definitely better with a dry surface and we wouldn’t be making any concrete plans at the minute. When the ground gets a little bit quicker you will see him.

“Last year he was looking like seven furlongs would help him and I would be very hopeful he will get a mile. We kept him at six last year simply because he was so well qualified for those races. Six and a half was no problem for him at Doncaster though in the Weatherbys race.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Hannon believes Rosallion can roar in Guineas

Classic dreams are very much alive for Rosallion, with Richard Hannon reaffirming his confidence in his high-class Qipco 2000 Guineas hope.

The son of Blue Point has always been held in high regard and has previously been described as “right up there with the best we’ve ever had” by his handler.

He was last seen putting a Doncaster disappointment behind him when scooping Group One honours in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere – a victory that made him Britain’s best hope of overcoming Aidan O’Brien’s City Of Troy in the opening Classic of the season.

Hannon has been pleased with what he has seen from Rosallion since returning to work for his three-year-old campaign, but is still to decide if he will take part in any of the Guineas trials in the spring.

Concerned about running the talented colt on soft ground before his big date at Newmarket on May 4, he could instead head straight for the 2000 Guineas itself – a race for which he is a best price of 8-1.

“Rosallion is in great form and he’s had a canter upsides Haatem on the grass,” said Hannon.

“Timmy Murphy rides him every day and was delighted with him. It wasn’t a massively informative piece of work but it was just one of those where we thought we would give him a little bit while it was a nice morning and the grass is nice.”

Connections Rosallion at the trophy presentation
Connections of Rosallion at the trophy presentation in Paris (PA)

He went on: “I would like to give him a trial, but I won’t run him anywhere where there is soft ground. He could just go straight to the 2000 Guineas.

“I’m going to take him to either Kempton or Newbury two or three weeks before the trials, so if he does go straight to the Guineas, he will be plenty quick enough.

“My view of him hasn’t changed, there is not a horse I would rather have other than him.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Sakheer bidding to be golden over a mile in Guineas

Sakheer “could not be in better condition”, as connections bid to find out whether or not he will stay the trip in Saturday’s Qipco 2000 Guineas.

The Zoffany colt had three starts, all over six furlongs, for trainer Roger Varian last term and ended the season scoring with ease in the Group Two Mill Reef at Newbury. He steps up to a mile for the first time in the Newmarket Classic with owners KHK Racing Ltd seeking clues as to his future path.

Their racing manager, retired trainer Chris Wall, said: “He has been working well and I know Roger has been happy with his preparation, which has been trouble-free.

“He will go there and do the best he can. There are obvious doubts about his stamina, which will only be answered when we run him on Saturday, but he is in good condition and we will hope for a good run.

“Ideally we wouldn’t want too much more rain. I was a little exasperated to see that (clerk of the course) Michael Prosser had started to water the track, which seems rather an unnecessary thing to do, given that we have had the wettest spring for 40 years, but there we go. That’s a problem for him.

“The horse couldn’t be in better condition and we’re looking forward to the day. Whatever he does, it will confirm plans one way of the other as to which route we go down in future.

“He’s a very talented horse, but we’re not sure yet what his best trip might be.”

Aidan O’Brien’s pair of Auguste Rodin and Little Big Bear dominate the betting with Dewhurst hero Chaldean the main threat, according to bookmakers.

Chaldean, trained by Andrew Balding, will provide Frankie Dettori with his last ride in the race after the Italian stated his intention to retire at the end of the year. The Frankel colt went into Newbury’s Greenham Stakes as a short-priced favourite, but unseated Dettori leaving the stalls on his seasonal debut.

Chaldean (right) held Royal Scotsman (left) in the Dewhurst
Chaldean (right) held Royal Scotsman (left) in the Dewhurst (Tim Goode/PA)

Speaking in his blog for World Pool, Dettori said: “The Rowley Mile at Newmarket has given me some great memories over the years. Mark Of Esteem in 1996 was probably the greatest 2000 Guineas finish I ever rode in. That was my first win and I remember it being such a thrilling finish.

“Island Sands three years later was also a memorable one, with it being the only 2000 Guineas run at the July course. And then I can’t forget Galileo Gold in 2016. That win kick-started the comeback for me, so I’ll be forever thankful to Sheikh Joaan for that.

“Often a higher draw is preferable over the mile at Newmarket, but I broke from stall one on Galileo Gold, so hopefully we can get the same kind of trip on Chaldean this year.

“The way I see it, the fancied ones are drawn 11-13, so it’s not ideal being away from them, but Chaldean is a horse who can go and run his own race.

“He’s got plenty of speed, so hopefully he can get away well and be right up there from the off, just like he was in the Dewhurst and the Champagne Stakes. I would have liked to have been drawn a bit closer to the main rivals, but it is what it is. I’ll ride my own race.”

Royal Scotsman was given plenty of experience as a juvenile, running six times and twice winning at Goodwood.

He was beaten a head by Chaldean on his final start in the Dewhurst at Newmarket, on his first try over seven furlongs.

Oliver Cole, in his fourth season sharing the licence with his Derby-winning father, Paul, could not be happier with Royal Scotsman, who makes his seasonal bow.

He said: “He’s very fit and well and we are expecting a good performance. He was never going to run in a trial as that would have meant starting earlier, and we were confident that on our gallops we could get him ready first time out.”

Sheikh Mohammed bids for a sixth success in the race, the Godolphin operation having struck last year with the Charlie Appleby-trained Coroebus.

Appleby is dual-handed with Silver Knott and Noble Style. The former is a dual Group Three winner, who was beaten a head when last seen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland in November, while Noble Style was unbeaten in three starts, signing off with success in the Gimcrack at York.

William Buick has opted for Silver Knott, despite having chosen to partner Noble Style when the pair galloped separately at the Craven meeting.

William Buick has decided to stick with Silver Knott
William Buick has decided to stick with Silver Knott (Tim Goode/PA)

He said: “Silver Knott was a good two-year-old who did very little wrong and was only just touched off at the Breeders’ Cup. It’s obviously a very good race, but he’s still progressive and he’s in very good form.

“Noble Style is a Gimcrack winner and unbeaten, so he’s a high-class horse too, but he’s stepping up two furlongs to a mile.”

Karl Burke is represented by the trio of Holloway Boy, Indestructible and Flight Plan.

Holloway Boy has five and a quarter lengths to make up on Auguste Rodin on their Doncaster run, while Indestructible showed his well-being with victory over course and distance in the Craven.

“All three are very nice colts,” said Burke. “Holloway Boy was always going to go straight to the Guineas without a prep run. He proved last year that he could win first time out.

“The horse is in great form and we are very happy with him. Christophe Soumillon rides and I’m sure he will run a good race. He will run in a visor.

Indestructible bids to follow up his success in the Craven (Tim Goode/PA)
Indestructible bids to follow up his success in the Craven (Tim Goode/PA)

“Indestructible came out of the Craven great. He will definitely improve for fitness and he is obviously improving on the course, as he galloped through the line very strongly.

“We are looking forward to seeing him in a stronger-run race than the Craven was. I’m sure we will get a good gallop and I’m sure that will suit him even better.

“We didn’t have him last season and felt he needed a wind op. Our vets thought we’d find 10 to 15 per cent improvement in him and they are probably right – he certainly ran a great race first time for us.”

Flight Plan, who is a son of 2014 Guineas winner Night Of Thunder, has Burke purring after he was beaten a neck by Dear My Friend over a mile in a Listed all-weather mile contest at Newcastle on his return.

“Flight Plan is a lovely horse. He lost 15 kilos when he ran at Newcastle, so he will improve plenty,” said the Leyburn handler.

“He has been working very, very well – his work has been exceptional at home – and I know Danny Tudhope is very sweet on him. At the prices, he’d be the one I’d be backing at 50-1 rather than the others.”

Galeron is a big price, according to trainer Charles Hills
Galeron is a big price, according to trainer Charles Hills (Brian Lawless/PA)

In a similar vein, Charlie Hills feels Galeron, who won the Goffs Million on his final start as a juvenile and was a place behind Flight Plan at Newcastle on his first run as a three-year-old, is being overlooked by bookmakers.

Hills said: “He’s a massive price and he has got plenty of experience. I was really happy with his run at Newcastle, coming through the field and finishing third.

“He is a horse who doesn’t do an awful lot at home, but I think his experience will hold him in good stead.

“A little bit of rain would help, but it should be beautiful ground by the weekend.

“He stayed on really nicely at Newcastle and we were conscious of a really bad draw, so we wanted to give that away and come in though horses. He is laid back at home so that race will have brought him on an awful lot.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Sakheer to have racecourse gallop ahead of Guineas date

Sakheer will head straight to the Qipco 2000 Guineas with connections deciding against running in a red-hot edition of the Watership Down Stud Too Darn Hot Greenham Stakes at Newbury.

Roger Varian’s impressive Mill Reef winner was in line for a return to the Berkshire track at the start of his Classic season, but the prospect of testing conditions for the seven-furlong contest has seen the Carlburg Stables handler decide to complete Sakheer’s Guineas preparations closer to home.

A general 8-1 shot for the opening Classic of the season on May 6, he is set for a Rowley Mile reconnaissance mission via a racecourse gallop.

“He’s in good form and we’re very happy with him,” said Varian.

“I think the Newbury ground this weekend will be very testing and I’m not sure he is quite ready for that, but he can have a nice gallop not far from home and hopefully that will bring him on a notch. We are 19 days out from the Guineas as we stand and we’re very happy with his condition.”

The son of Zoffany – who is owned by the KHK Racing Ltd operation that tasted Classic success with Eldar Eldarov last season – raced three times at two, all at six furlongs.

However, if Sakheer is to add to both his trainer and owner’s Classic haul, he will need to prove he stays an extra two furlongs – something Varian cannot be certain about until he is put to the test under race conditions.

“We don’t really know about a mile, truth be told,” he continued. “We hope he gets a mile but he’s never raced beyond six and he’s been very good over six.

“He’s bred to get a mile and we’re going to ask that question of him. We have options over shorter – Commonwealth Cups and Prix Jean Prats – should the mile be beyond him from a stamina point of view.

“I think on pedigree he has every chance of getting a mile and none of us will really know until he runs. You can get an idea at home, but it’s really under race pressure and race circumstances that you really know if they get home or not.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

‘Little setback’ scuppers Nostrum’s Guineas hopes

Nostrum will not run in the Qipco 2000 Guineas having been ruled out of the early part of the season with a setback.

Sir Michael Stoute’s talented colt was unbeaten in his first two starts as a juvenile, including when impressing in the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket in September, and was last seen finishing third to fellow Juddmonte-owned Classic contender Chaldean in the Dewhurst Stakes.

Those performances saw Nostrum priced as short as 8-1 for opening Classic of the summer, but the son of Kingman will miss out on an early-season return to the Rowley Mile for the Guineas on May 6 and is also ruled out of appearing in the French and Irish equivalents – with connections tentatively highlighting a Royal Ascot date in June.

“Nostrum has had a little setback and he will not run in any of the Guineas,” said Barry Mahon, racing manager for owners Juddmonte.

“He’s had a little setback and he just needs a couple of weeks going easy, then hopefully we will have him back for the middle of the summer.

“We’ll just let him tell us. I suppose we will aim for Royal Ascot and if we get there great, but if we don’t, then we will just give him more time.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Dubai Mile could take in 2000 Guineas on the way to Epsom

Criterium de Saint-Cloud scorer Dubai Mile has been added to the list of Derby entries, with trainer Charlie Johnston revealing he will tune up for a potential tilt at the Epsom Classic in either the Qipco 2000 Guineas or York’s Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes.

Although beaten on debut as a juvenile, he won his next two starts in fine style before attempting to make all in the Royal Lodge over the Guineas track and trip, going down by half a length to Andrew Balding’s The Foxes.

That earned the son of Roaring Lion a shot at Group One glory in France and he thrived for the move up to 10 furlongs on that occasion, showing plenty of class and even more grit to hold off John and Thady Gosden’s Arrest by a head and highlight his Classic claims for the forthcoming campaign.

With connections opting to pay the £9,000 stake to add Dubai Mile to the race at the second entry stage, that campaign could be centred around a Derby bid as Johnston dreams of the colt becoming a standard-bearer for the yard during his first season as the sole licence holder at Kingsley Park.

“Any two-year-old that can win at Group One level leaves you dreaming over the winter about what they could achieve during their three-year-old campaign,” said Johnston.

“He’s obviously going to be a flagship horse for us this year and one we’re going to have realistic Classic ambitions with, so we’re very much looking forward to him.

Trainer Charlie Johnston has high hopes for Dubai Mile this season
Trainer Charlie Johnston has high hopes for Dubai Mile this season (Mike Egerton/PA)

“You need these horses to compete at the highest level to put you in people’s eyes and minds going forward and he’s a big flagship horse that we need and want a big year from – hopefully he can deliver.”

Despite Dubai Mile’s finest hour coming over 10 furlongs and holding an entry for the Dante on May 18, a return to the Rowley Mile and a crack at Newmarket’s opening Classic of the summer appears the preferred option of the colt’s owner Ahmad Al Shaikh.

“The Guineas is still on the table and Ahmad is quite keen for him to go there,” continued Johnston.

“For all the Dante is a significant race and the preeminent Derby trial, this horse has already won a Group One so his CV would be enhanced more by a placed effort in the Guineas than winning the Dante.

“He was only just touched off in the Royal Lodge over the Guineas course and distance and although I’m pretty certain he’s going to come into his own over middle-distances this year, I wouldn’t rule out his prep race being in the Guineas.

“They are the best two Derby trials and it will be one of the two races for him. Being a vanquished horse in the Guineas can often be the best Derby trial you can run.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns