The 2022 Flat season is already in full swing, but the majority of racing’s finest are still to grace our racetrack’s with their presence. Ahead of the first Classic, the 2000 Guineas, next week, we’ve put together a 709/1 accumulator of big favourites to watch across the season.
Native Trail (2000 Guineas)
There are few horses whose form can transcend the distance between regular racegoers and part-time viewers. However, explaining NATIVE TRAIL’s ability, and his chances in the 2000 Guineas at the end of April, are the most straightforward task.
He was the star two-year-old last season, winning on all four starts, including two at the highest level in the Curragh’s National Stakes and Newmarket’s Dewhurst. While there are sometimes doubts about how a horse may train on, Native Trail was such a rangy juvenile with a massive stride that there were likely few fears in Charlie Appleby’s yard around that possibility.
He duly returned for the Craven Stakes last week over the same course and distance as the opening Classic. Despite quite probably lacking a little fitness, he found his powerful stride in the last two furlongs to gallop away for a 3½ length success.
With the only likelihood being that he should improve upon that effort, he is going to be a formidable favourite to beat. Moreover, Appleby has strongly come out in favour of Native Trail over stablemate Coreobus, the current second favourite.
Inspiral (1000 Guineas)
Like Native trail, INSPIRAL took all before her at two, also winning four out of four as she gradually stepped up through the grades.
A Listed victory at Sandown followed her debut victory at Newmarket. That easy victory from subsequent Group 1 winner Wild Beauty made her a long odds-on shot for oncaster’s Group 2 May Hill Stakes. She won as her price suggested.
The rise to Group 1 company proved no obstacle for her either. Though she was slow at the start an initially looked like being pestered all the way by Cachet, she quickened on numerous occasions to win comfortably in the Fillies’ Mile
The favourite for the 1000 Guineas will be heading straight to Newmarket without a prep run, but that is rarely a negative as far as either Guineas is concerned. She is a course and distance winner who should go in any ground and holds form over almost all of her prospective rivals.
Baaeed (Lockinge Stakes)
Sea The Stars’ progeny have almost all gone on to be stayers or middle distance specialists. The likes of Crystal Ocean, Stradivarius and Harzand stand out among his progeny.
However, there is a new name towards the top of his best offspring in the hitherto unbeaten BAAEED. The phenomenal miler, trained by William Haggas, demonstrates that his dad, as when he raced, can distribute pace and staying power equally.
Baaeed only met a racecourse for the first time in June last year. He won that Leicester maiden before backing that up with two victories at Newmarket, the latter in LIsted company. However, the best was definitely to come.
Jim Crowley did not even have to resort to the whip when he cruised clear in Goodwood’s Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes, while Longchamp set the scene for his first Group 1 success in the Prix Du Moulin.
If that was not enough, he downed champion miler Palace Pier in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on that rival’s final career start. It was only his second ever defeat. No horse has yet managed to inflict one on Baaeed and the Lockinge already looks within his grasp.
Luxembourg (Epsom Derby)
Although also entered and likely to run in the 2000 Guineas, it is the Epsom Derby which may prove the main target for LUXEMBOURG.
He is, like all of the above, unbeaten so far, though his is the shortest sequence. Aidan O’Brien’s colt has raced three times to date, all coming over the 1m trip of the most upcoming Classic.
The son of Camelot debuted at Killarney before making light work of the Curragh’s Group 2 Beresford Stakes, a race won by O’Brien in its last 11 renewals. That astonishing run has provided some false dawns in the past, but the likes of Capri, Saxon Warrior and Japan have won it in recent years.
Luxembourg followed up in Doncaster’s Group 1 Futurity Stakes. That race was the stepping stone for three successive Guineas winners between 2017 and 2019, two of those trained by O’Brien. He idled in front, but looked a relentless galloper who will be suited by Epsom’s longer test.
Newmarket’s Classic may give a hint as to his wellbeing. For now, he can be expected to take high ranking in whichever division he plies his trade.
Hurricane Lane (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe)
This year will mark 20 since Godolphin last owned a winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. However, their rise back to significant prominence in Europe, led by Charlie Appleby and William Buick, could well coincide with victory once again.
HURRICANE LANE had an excellent three-year-old campaign. Five wins came from seven starts, his only defeats coming when losing both shoes at Epsom in the Derby (he might not not handled the track either) and when a battling third in the Arc last term.
In between those, he won a flurry of Group 1s, two of which were Classics. He won in sensational style in the Irish Derby when reeling in Lone Eagle, the pair seven lengths clear of the third, then serenely took the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp.
His second Classic came in the St Leger at Doncaster, when simply in a class of his own despite the trip stretching his stamina. Those exertions may just have left him a few percentage points low for the Arc, in which 80/1 outsider Torquator Tasso ran him down.
The chances of him improving from three to four are high, and that could make him a formidable force wherever he is campaigned in 2022.