GOOD things come to those who wait – and we have got a brilliant afternoon in store at Newmarket.
The ITV cameras are in town for 2000 Guineas day, and our man Jack Keene previews the card race-by-race.
A tricky contest to kick things off, but STONE OF DESTINY could be the answer.
He performed with a good deal of credit in some prestigious sprint handicaps last season before gaining a deserved success at the Shergar Cup.
On balance, this stiff 5f is probably his optimum trip, and he lines up off a winning mark for trainer Andrew Balding, who has hit the ground running.
Leodis Dream will need to produce a career best to win this, but he goes well fresh and there is every chance there is more to come from him as a four-year-old.
He is feared most, but if a serious amount of rain arrives then that would bring the progressive Count D’Orsay bang into contention under James Doyle.
The smart Aplomb would also appreciate some cut in the ground so is worth noting, while the hardy Copper Knight can never be fully discounted in races of this nature.
SELECTION: Stone Of Destiny
DANGER: Leodis Dream
Another fiercely competitive betting heat. Judicial has plenty of class and was just touched off by Mabs Cross in this race two years ago.
In general, he has tended to need his first run of the season, so Clive Cox’s SHADES OF BLUE is narrowly preferred.
Bar a blowout in the Abbaye on bottomless ground, she was a model of consistency in stakes company last summer.
She gets a handy sex allowance and she is one of the few runners in the field who remain open to progress this year.
One of the others who could yet improve is Far Above, who has been off since winning a Listed race at Deauville. This drop back to 5f isn’t ideal, though.
Major Jumbo and Queens Gift are also worth a place on the shortlist.
SELECTION: Shades Of Blue
This looks to be between the three fillies at the top of the market.
The dogs have been barking about Terebellum, and she was far from disgraced when fifth in the Prix de l’Opera on her final outing.
She clearly has a bright future, but I’m wary of horses that show improved form when sent over to France as the races there can often be muddling. She would ideally need the ground to ease, too.
Magic Lily is a filly I’m very fond of following her exploits in Dubai earlier this year. She is beautifully-bred and a class act, and she would be my choice of the Godolphin pair, despite her 3lb penalty.
But Sir Michael Stoute will no doubt work his magic with QUEEN POWER this year, and she is something of a confident pick.
She beat a very smart filly in Lavender’s Blue at Newbury before a combination of soft ground and 1m4f was too much for her at Royal Ascot.
She wasn’t right when last sighted (and faced a tough task anyway against some classy older horses), but much better is expected of her as a four-year-old, with this 1m2f trip on a decent surface absolutely ideal.
SELECTION: Queen Power
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All eyes will be on WALDKONIG, who made such a big impression when winning on debut at Wolverhampton.
He comes here with a tall reputation and, while he will have to go some to emulate big brother Waldgeist, he will surely win plenty of races this summer. He isn’t my sort of price but he is the likeliest winner.
Al Aasy shaped with considerable promise when third on debut and William Haggas isn’t wasting any time getting this son of Sea The Stars up in trip.
He commands respect, though the main threat to the selection could come from Punctuation, who absolutely bolted up over 1m4f at Kempton when last sighted.
This drop in trip shouldn’t be an issue and The Queen looks to have another smart one of her hands.
There is no doubt that Pinatubo is one of the most exceptional two-year-olds we have seen for a long time – his victories at Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood and the Curragh were jaw-dropping.
He wasn’t as impressive in the Dewhurst, when perhaps the soft ground blunted his speed a little and Arizona made him pull out all the stops.
He is the most likely winner, even if there are slight concerns about him training on, given he wasn’t the biggest two-year-old. At the prices, you can afford to let him go, and if he bolts up enjoy the fact that we have a genuine superstar on our hands.
Arizona has more size and scope than Pinatubo and it would be no surprise if he is able to get closer to the champ this season. He should be bang there for Ballydoyle.
Kameko was impressive in the Vertem Futurity at Newcastle, but he was turned over at short odds in the Royal Lodge over C&D previously and he didn’t appear to handle the dip too well.
The fifth from that race, Kinross, bolted up on debut here and he comes with a huge reputation. He likely has a lot more to offer and could be a player at decent odds.
From a punting angle, MILITARY MARCH looks a cracking each-way bet. He is stoutly-bred and has been well-backed for the Derby in recent months.
But he still had the speed to win over 7f on decent ground on his debut last summer and he followed up with a gutsy win in the Autumn Stakes over C&D where he looked to be learning on the job.
Plenty of Derby horses have run well (or won) the Guineas in the past and he is by no means a carthorse. The bookies have surely underestimated him.
EACH-WAY SELECTION: Military March
BLACK LOTUS was undone by soft ground when last sighted over C&D in October.
This trip is a touch short of her optimum, but she certainly has the pace to cope with it and she is open to further progress this term for the underrated Chris Wall.
She can go well under Andrea Atzeni, though there are several dangers, headed by Montatham.
He showed plenty of promise last year without really kicking on, but a gelding operation over the winter could help him take a step forward.
Exec Chef and Jalaad are also worth close consideration.
SELECTION: Black Lotus
QAYSAR gave weight and a beating to Nahaarr at the July Course last summer.
Richard Hannon’s runner is up in the weights now but only 1lb worse off with his old rival. He is tough and talented and can confirm the form.
Nahaarr should progress further this summer, but there doesn’t appear to be an obvious reason why he would turn the tables.
Alemaratalyoum and the 11-year-old Sir Maximilian are consistent performers in this sort of grade and are solid each-way plays.
SATURDAY NAP: Qaysar
KING RAGNAR built on the promise of his first two runs to open his account in fine style at Newcastle when last sighted.
An opening mark of 81 looks very workable and his top yard appear to have their runners pretty forward.
There are some nice types in opposition, including Lazuli who is surely better than he showed when eighth in the Cornwallis last season.
Will To Win is aptly named and it will be interesting to see how he gets on switched back to turf under Silvestre De Sousa.
Smokey Bear and Endowed both arrive seeking hat-tricks and aren’t ruled out. This race will likely prove solid form, whoever comes out on top.
TENTATIVE NOD: King Ragnar
DANGER: Take your pick!
It will be fascinating to see which way Rock Eagle goes in the betting on his return from 378 days off. He is open to significant progress this year, but he has clearly had his issues.
INDIANAPOLIS has been a rock-solid performer for James Given, winning a nice pot at Ascot last summer and rounding off his campaign with a game win at Leicester.
He has looked a reformed character since being fitted with cheekpieces and there is still some mileage in his new mark.
We probably haven’t seen the best of Deja yet, and though he was only restricted to two starts last year one of them was an impressive defeat of Soto Sizzler.
He is one to note, as is Calculation, the daughter of Gold Cup heroine Estimate who should have more to offer this season.