Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien has won three of the last four runnings of the 2000 Guineas. He sends two leading contenders over in a bid for a record 10th success in the first English Classic on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket this Saturday (15:35).
Although Ten Sovereigns tops official ratings and a number of high-profile contenders have fallen by the wayside, it’s Magna Grecia who is a 9/2 chance with Betfred and appeals most.
This Invincible Spirit colt won two of three starts as a juvenile and was a gallant runner-up over course and distance in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes. A sustained battle with Persian King just saw the French raider prevail by a neck.
Not only has the winner come out and comfortably landed his reappearance run, but Magna Grecia stepped up on defeat by scooping the Group 1 Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.
He just held on by a head from Phoenix Of Spain, and had re-opposing pair Great Scot and Kick On beaten further in-behind.
Connections of Magna Grecia won the same race with Saxon Warrior the previous year, who then trained on to land this last season.
Stable companion Ten Sovereigns was unbeaten in three starts as a two-year-old, meanwhile, and improved to land the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes over 6f at this venue.
The son of No Nay Never ran on well to score by half-a-length from the very useful Jash, and the front pair pulled clear of the remainder.
You can question what Ten Sovereigns has beaten after being sent off odds-on on his last two starts, but this was visually impressive.
Stepping up an extra couple of furlongs here is not a given, but he’s the choice of Ryan Moore and that’s probably why he’s 4/1 favourite with William Hill.
Skardu and Advertise head home hopes
Dual course winner Skardu captured the Craven Stakes over the trip last time out and is a leading British contender following that Group 3 success.
Trained by William Haggas, this Shamardal colt has had just two career outings so far and still prevailed by a neck here last month when denied a clear run two out.
Jockey James Doyle switched Skardu left in search of daylight and he made headway to challenge approaching the final furlong, before taking it up and lasting home.
The second, third and fourth home all line-up in this, so that suggests plenty fancy their chances of reversing the form.
As Skardu is very lightly-raced, however, he is open to further progress and 8/1 with Betfred to follow-up here.
Martyn Meade’s Advertise once again has the services of Frankie Dettori in the saddle and is officially the second best colt in the contest on ratings.
As he’s by Showcasing, getting a mile isn’t guaranteed but he also has considerable form claims.
After chasing home Calyx in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, Advertise won the July Stakes on the other course at Newmarket and then landed the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh.
All of those runs came over 6f, and he was then a keeping on 2 3/4 lengths runner-up to Too Darn Hot in the Dewhurst when upped in trip on this track.
That juvenile contest is another key Classic trial and Advertise is 8/1 with 888Sport off the back of his efforts. Like Ten Sovereigns, he has to prove himself capable of stepping up to this distance.
Madhmoon another smart Irish raider
It’s not just O’Brien who has a live chance trained in the Emerald Isle. Kevin Prendergast sends Madhmoon over and he looks sure to come on for his reappearance run.
A dual winner in Ireland over this distance, including when beating Broome under a hands and heels ride by 2 1/2 lengths in the Group 2 Champions Juvenile Stakes, this son of Dawn Approach then had to concede a penalty last time out.
Madhmoon was seriously impressive at Leopardstown, but far from disgraced in giving Never No More 3lb in a Listed event there and going down by half-a-length. It was a return to action from which he’s expected to progress from.
Odds of 15/2 with Unibet look smart each-way value on Madhmoon, who can hit the frame if repeating the pick of his juvenile form here.
Leading owners Godolphin have a couple of runners, meanwhile, and there were excuses for Royal Marine when only fourth in the Craven last time out.
Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, this Raven’s Pass colt really caught the eye with two very different displays at the end of last season.
Royal Marine made all impressively in a 7f Doncaster maiden during the St Leger Festival, then stepped up in distance and class to land the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc weekend at Longchamp.
Using the aforementioned Broome as a form marker, he beat that one a neck in France and so can’t be discounted at 10/1 with Paddy Power. That’s because Royal Marine was forced to switched at a key stage in the Craven.
If he’d got a clear run, then he should’ve been closer at the finish. Explaining a poor return to action at Meydan is more difficult, however.
Late entrant Al Hilalee unexposed
Al Hilalee was supplemented for this by Godolphin and is another lightly-raced sort. Trained by Charlie Appleby, the unbeaten son of super sire Dubawi readily won a 7f maiden on the July course on debut dispute showing signs of greenness.
He then followed-up in a Listed contest on the round mile at Deauville when hard pressed close home to win by a short-head. The aforementioned Great Scot was also a head behind Al Hilalee in third.
Although off the track since, connections have paid to put him in this and he’s relatively unexposed. Al Hilalee can be backed at 16/1 with Ladbrokes and again there’s plenty of each-way juice in that.
Some bookmakers offer an extra place on the 2000 Guineas, so Greenham Stakes runner-up Great Scot looks a big price at 25/1 with Boylesports.
Trained by the in-form Tom Dascombe, he came out and won a Listed contest at Haydock on heavy after being nearest at the finish when third to Al Hilalee.
Great Scot also got slightly hampered when fifth to Magna Grecia and bumped into a rival on reappearance at Newbury.
If he can avoid similar problems in-running here, then that gives this Requinto colt claims of going well. Great Scot is versatile as regards ground having also won on good-to-firm as a juvenile.
Craven second and third Momkin and Set Piece also take their chances. This demands more from both, but the former only has a neck to find after being short of room over course and distance.
It doesn’t make sense that Momkin is a bigger price (33/1 with BetVictor) than Set Piece (20/1 with Betway) as the latter has 1 3/4 lengths to find and had no extra close home.
Form over further no bad thing for Kick On
Kick On is one of two in the race for John Gosden, and he advertised the Futurity Trophy form when coming out and winning the Listed 1m 1f Feilden Stakes here last month.
While that would seem to suggest further than a mile suits, the son of Charm Spirit is also a distance winner when landing a maiden at this venue in September.
As Kick On made all and gamely held on to score by a neck in the Feilden, the drop back down in distance may actually suit. He thus has more going for him than odds of 25/1 with William Hill suggest.
Oasis Dream colt Shine So Bright caught the eye when making all and running on strongly to land the European Free Handicap over 7f here last month.
The way this Andrew Balding trained horse ran suggested he would get a mile no problem, but this does demand more than a Listed handicap.
Shine So Bright is 33/1 with Betway to take the marked step up in grade on that having finished third in both the Gimcrack at the Ebor Festival and Mill Reef as a juvenile.
The remainder of the 19 runners all look to have plenty to find. Urban Icon was only a weakening third in the Greenham, while Dark Vision hasn’t reproduced the form that saw him land the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood as a juvenile.
Emaraaty Ana landed the Gimcrack at York, but lost two places in the closing stages of the Middle Park when a weakening fifth behind Ten Sovereigns. Bar those, it’s 66/1 in the 2000 Guineas betting.
OpenOdds’ 2000 Guineas shortlist
Magna Grecia ✮✮✮✮✮
Ten Sovereigns ✮✮✮✮✰