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2017 2000 Guineas tips - 5/1 Eminent stands out on value for Newmarket Classic

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look ahead to the 2017 Flat season's first Classic at Newmarket, the Qipco 2000 Guineas.
Eminent can build on his Craven Stakes win to land the Qipco 2000 Guineas.

The first Flat racing Classic of the new season goes to post on Saturday with the latest renewal of the Qipco-sponsored 2000 Guineas, which was first run back in 1809.

Due to get underway at 3.35pm on Saturday’s classy racecard at Newmarket, and covered live by ITV Racing, the Group One contest boasts a near-£300,000 first prize with ten runners going to post for the one mile contest, spearheaded by Aidan O’Brien’s Churchill who along with stablemates Lancaster Bomber and Spirit Of Valour will bid to give the Ballydoyle trainer his eighth win in the race.

Churchill (6/4, Bet365) is one of three runners to hail from Aidan O’Brien’s camp, and the Galileo colt has headlined the ante-post market for the season’s first Classic for some time on the back of a five-timer of wins as a juvenile which include successes in the National Stakes and the Dewhurst – both Group One wins.

The latter win came at the expense of stablemate Lancaster Bomber (33/1, Paddy Power) who also lines up here, and he sets the standard on his juvenile form; however, the Trial form this term has looked pretty strong, and while he’s set to improve this term as many of Galileo’s progeny do, he’ll need to be at the top of his game to justify the ante-post hype.

Lancaster Bomber meanwhile won a Leopardstown maiden on his second start, but subsequently he has been beaten on all three clashes with stablemate Churchill although he ran a blinder to finish runner-up behind Oscar Performance at Santa Anita in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Aidan O'Brien's Churchill sets the standard on his juvenile form, and the Ballydoyle runner could be hard to beat.

Having shaped as if in need of the run behind Thunder Snow in the UAE Derby, the War Front colt is entitled to come on for the outing; but he may lack the scope to improve enough to win a Group One, especially one where Churchill is in opposition.

Usually a prominent racer, he could well assume pacemaker duties for his more fancied stablemate; while Spirit Of Valour (80/1, William Hill) won a Naas maiden on his second start prior to finishing third in the Group Three Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown on his final start last term.

The War Front colt also contested the UAE Derby, finishing behind his stablemate Lancaster Bomber when crossing the line in eighth position. He probably needed that outing, and he is entitled to progress; however, he’ll need to find plenty of improvement if he’s to win this contest.

Andre Fabre knows how to win a Guineas, and his Al Wukair (9/2, Bet365) is afforded plenty of respect in his Classic bid for the French trainer.

The Dream Ahead colt is unbeaten in three starts in France, posting wins at Saint Cloud, Deauville, and latterly at Maisons-Laffitte where he beat National Defense to win the Group Three Prix Djebel Stakes.
He was impressive in that win despite the relatively slim margin of victory, where he came with a rattling finish to deny the Lagardere winner; and open to plenty of improvement he has to be feared, although he may not want this to be a tactical race given he took some time to hit top gear last time.

Fabre has been quietly confident about his star’s chances, and he’s a live contender to give the French maestro a third Guineas win.

Andre Fabre sends the unbeaten Al Wukair for a crack at Classic glory on Saturday.

Godolphin also fire three bullets at this contest as they bid to win the colts’ Classic for the first time since New Approach in 2013; Richard Hannon’s Barney Roy (4/1, Paddy Power) looks their main hope of landing Classic success, and the unbeaten Excelebraton colt made a strong impression when cosily winning the Greenham Stakes from another Godolphin runner in Dream Castle, scoring by two lengths.

That rival reopposes here, but Richard Hannon’s charge could well improve again for the extra furlong given he was strong at the finish, and he can confirm the form with Saeed bin Suroor’s charge who sports a first-time hood to try and curb his free-going tendencies which saw him pull too hard early at Newbury.

He hung markedly in the closing stages at the Berkshire venue, perhaps due to his earlier exertions; but he won’t get away with similar at Newmarket, and while Sylvestre De Sousa catches the eye in the saddle, the Frankel colt arguably needs more here.

Top Score (80/1, William Hill) is the third of the Godolphin runners to line up, and having won twice in Meydan in the early part of the year the Hard Spun colt lined up in the UAE Derby where he was never a factor behind Thunder  Snow and eventually trailing in 11th of the field.

Placed last term in a Turkish Group Three at Veliefendi, Saeed bin Suroor’s charge is likely to help force the pace in this contest for the more fancied Barney Roy, but it is hard to make a case for him being good enough to win this.

Barney Roy looks the pick of the Godolphin trio in Saturday's Classic.

It was hard not to be taken by the way in which EMINENT (5/1, Paddy Power) powered to victory in the Craven Stakes here in April, with Martyn Meade’s Frankel colt blitzing Racing Post Trophy winner Rivet and and Benbatl, as well as the highly touted War Decree in what was a very impressive success which promised even better to come.

A debut winner here last September, he showed a decent turn of foot when asked by big-race jockey Jim Crowley having raced away from the pace. Tracking through Rivet, he challenged entering the dip before really hitting top stride on the run to the post where he gamely repelled all challengers.

Craven winners don’t have a great record in the Guineas, but he’ll be better suited to the stronger pace that will be likely in the colts’ Classic and now 2-2 at Flat HQ as well as proving fast ground to be no issue, he can post a big run with the prospect of further improvement to come.

Larchmont Lad (33/1, William Hill) ran well in the Craven behind Eminent, racing with the pace before fading into fifth and Richard Hannon’s second runner in the race could step up for the run and prove a different proposition.

The Footstepsinthesand colt was a good third to Rodaini in a Doncaster Listed contest last term prior to beating Whitecliffsofdover here in the Somerville Stakes; and he went well for a long way last time in the Craven where he took up the running for a brief time over a furlong out before his effort flattened out.

Entitled to have needed that outing, he could do better; but he may well have found his stamina stretched over the extra furlong having contested over seven furlongs last term. He’ll need to improve for that return, but he could go well at a big price and isn’t discounted if seeing out the one mile trip on his second start of the season.

Eminent stormed to victory in the Craven Stakes.

James Tate’s Law And Order (66/1, Bet365) completes the ten-runner line-up for the first Classic of the season, and the Lawman colt comes into this race on the back of a good third behind Khalidi at this venue last month in the Fielden Stakes, having won at Lingfield earlier in the month.

However, well-beaten last term behind Larchmont Lad he needs to find a good deal more to win this contest and others are likely to prove stronger.


Churchill sets a solid standard on his juvenile form, having won Group One contests at the Curragh and here last term, including the Dewhurst; he’s clearly the one to beat, but odds are justifiably skinny and there is better value to be had elsewhere.

The unbeaten pair of Barney Roy and Al Wukair are obvious starting points for alternatives, with the latter particularly impressive in his most recent win in France; but it was hard not to be impressed by the run of EMINENT (5/1, Paddy Power) when Martyn Meade’s Frankel colt stormed to Craven Stakes victory last month, beating Racing Post Trophy winner Rivet readily.

Now 2-2 at this venue, he produced a good performance to hold off all challengers in that Group Three contest where he was strong at the finish despite the steady pace; he’ll get a truer-run contest this time around, and open to plenty of improvement on what was his first run of the season, he can take his tally to three wins from three starts.

2017 2000 GUINEAS SELECTION – EMINENT (5/1, Paddy Power)

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2017 2000 Guineas tips - 5/1 Eminent stands out on value for Newmarket Classic

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look ahead to the 2017 Flat season's first Classic at Newmarket, the Qipco 2000 Guineas.

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