2021 Qipco 2000 Guineas Runner-By Runner Preview

Thunder Moon looks a big player in the 2000 Guineas.Thunder Moon looks a big player in the 2000 Guineas.

Qipco 2000 Guineas Runner-By-Runner Preview

The Qipco 2000 Guineas gets the flat season off to a bang this weekend, and in honour of the first Group 1 held in Britain this year, we have produced an in-depth runner-by-runner preview of the contest. With the likes of Mutasaabeq, Wembley and Thunder Moon in the line-up, it promises to be one of the most competitive 2000 Guineas held in recent years. Read our thoughts on each runner’s chances below, which includes a big race verdict and predicted race 1-2-3.

  1. Albadri (T: Jane Chapple-Hyam, J: Hollie Doyle)

Caused a major shock when running out a 100/1 winner of a Windsor maiden, and subsequently not disgraced in a couple of competitive Group 3’s at the backend of last season. Took a small-field Southwell handicap on his first start at three, but well down the field in both starts since and this is a major jump in class. Impossible to recommend.

  1. Battleground (T: Aidan O’Brien, J: Frankie Dettori)

Beautifully bred first foal out of Prix de l’Arc winner Found. Found his feet as a juvenile, winning both the Chesham and Vintage Stakes before a credible third when sent over to America for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. This track should suit him far better than Keeneland, and he could improve at three, but on known form, he will need to. Others stronger.

  1. Chindit (T: Richard Hannon, J: Pat Dobbs)

Progressive at two, building on a comprehensive Ascot Listed win (form strong) when taking what at the time looked a vintage renewal of the Group 2 Champagne Stakes. Soft ground to blame for subsequent Dewhurst defeat, and he got 2021 off to a winning start in last month’s Greenham. On the back of that performance, he should have no problem with a mile. Lively outsider.

  1. Devilwala (T: Ralph Beckett, J: Rossa Ryan)

One win from three starts for Archie Watson and he made an excellent start to life for his current yard when a 100/1 fourth in the Dewhurst. Easy to forgive subsequent Breeders’ Cup defeat (slowly away), and also had possible excuses when behind Master Of The Seas and Mystery Smiles in last month’s Craven (lost shoe). Still tough to envisage him having the requisite class to challenge, however. Opposable.

  1. Legion Of Honour (T: Roger Varian, J: David Egan)

Close second in a Haydock novice on debut (form strong) and followed that effort up with a facile Newcastle success (4/6f). Acquitted himself with credit when second in Listed company back at that venue last month. Has a progressive profile but a huge jolt of improvement is needed here. Best watched.

  1. Lucky Vega (T: Jessica Harrington, J: Shane Foley)

Very smart juvenile who blasted away the field in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes (6f) at the Curragh in August. Endured a luckless run in the National Stakes afterwards, and only narrowly held in the Group 1 Middle Park when last seen. Classy, but on pedigree this trip asks serious questions. Doubtful stayer. 

  1. Master Of The Seas (T: Charlie Appleby, J: William Buick)

Has had temperament issues in the past but remains a colt of serious potential when he puts it all together, a view best supported by his impressive Group 2 Superlative Stakes win. The addition of a hood seemed to help in that area when landing the Craven over track and trip last month. Definite chance if he settles.

  1. Mutasaabeq (T: Charles Hills, J: Jim Crowley)

Had just the one start at two, landing a heavy ground maiden over 7f here in October. Excelled on polar opposite ground conditions when landing a four-runner conditions race back at this venue last a month, a performance which had the clock watchers purring. The only unbeaten horse in this line-up. Could be anything.

  1. Mystery Smiles (T: Andrew Balding, J: Silvestre De Sousa)

Took his first two starts as a juvenile, and although winless in three subsequent outings, has run with credit each time. Although not bred to stay proved his effectiveness over this distance when third in last month’s Craven, but no obvious reason why he should reverse form with Master Of The Seas here. Should come up short. 

  1. Naval Crown (T: Charlie Appleby, J: Adam Kirby)

Sent off favourite for four of his five juvenile starts but only won once (third on every other occasion). Claimed the scalp of his much stronger fancied stablemate Master Of The Seas in Listed company at Meydan earlier this year (made all), but beaten favourite here afterwards and this is far tougher. Likely pace angle. 

  1. One Ruler (T: Charlie Appleby, J: James Doyle)

Yet to finish out of the first three in five career starts: winning twice. Latest victory came in the course and distance Autumn Stakes; Van Gogh behind, and far from disgraced when second in the Group 1 Vertem Futurity (Heavy) at Doncaster afterwards. This surface/track looks more suitable. Dangerous to discount.

  1. Poetic Flare (T: Jim Bolger, J: Kevin Manning)

Sole defeat from four career starts came in the Dewhurst here last year. Made a winning start to his three-year-old career when landing a Listed contest at Leopardstown last month, and that looked quite strong form for the grade. Interesting contender, albeit that previous course run is a cause for concern. Others preferred.

  1. Thunder Moon (T: Joseph O’Brien, J: Declan McDonogh)

Impressive debut winner in a Curragh maiden, and he supplemented that success in the Group 1 National Stakes on just his second career start; four directly behind reoppose. Beaten favourite in the Dewhurst on his final juvenile start, but soft ground possibly caught him out there. Major player.

  1. Van Gogh (T: Aidan O’Brien, J: Seamie Heffernan)

A little inconsistent early into his juvenile campaign but developed into a smart colt towards the backend of the season. Unfortunate not to finish closer to One Ruler (troubled run) here in October and made up for that with a dominant French Group 1 to end the year. Strong stayer but possibly vulnerable to speedier types. Place claims.

  1. Wembley (T: Aidan O’Brien, J: Ryan Moore)

Off the mark at the fourth attempt as a juvenile when taking a lowly Roscommon maiden, and saw his form improve exponentially after that success; second in National Stakes and Dewhurst. Looks the type to improve as a three-year-old and is Ryan Moore’s pick from the three Ballydoyle runners. Firmly enters calculations.

Big Race Verdict

Those drawn low appear to be at a disadvantage here, and that looks troublesome for Master Of The Seas (stall 2). Wembley is the pick of Ryan Moore and entitled to plenty of respect on the back of that, but he did have a habit of bumping into one as a juvenile and may have to settle for second-best once again – with THUNDER MOON backed to land the spoils. This colt had Wembley comfortably held in the National Stakes on his penultimate start, and the ground was a legitimate excuse for his Dewhurst run, for all third-place that day was far from a disgrace. A sure-fire improver now tackling these better ground conditions, he rates as the one to beat. Van Gogh and Chindit can fight it out for third, with the latter’s superior turn of foot possibly enough to win that battle.

  1. THUNDER MOON
  2. Wembley
  3. Chindit