2000 Guineas 2016: Timeform's runner-by-runner guide

Air Force Blue is red-hot favourite for Saturday's 2000 Guineas at Newmarket
Air Force Blue is red-hot favourite for Saturday's 2000 Guineas at Newmarket

Timeform bring you their runner-by-runner guide to the 2016 renewal of the 2000 Guineas...

"It's hard to get away from AIR FORCE BLUE, whose devastating performance in last year's Dewhurst suggested he'll have no issue with this distance for all he clearly possess plenty of speed."

Air Force Blue (Aidan O'Brien/Ryan Moore) - Timeform's highest-rated two-year-old last year after winning four of his five starts, including the Phoenix, National and Dewhurst Stakes (all Group 1s, beat Massaat by three and a quarter lengths in the last-named race). Met defeat at the hands of Buratino in Coventry Stakes but improved plenty after. Really looks the part and expected to stay 1m, so very good claims of giving his trainer a record eighth win in this race. Wears a first-time tongue tie.

Air Vice Marshal (Aidan O'Brien/Seamie Heffernan) - Built on promising debut last June when winning Gowran maiden two weeks later, and took another step forward when a length second to Birchwood in Superlative Stakes at Newmarket in July. Absence since a slight concern and Air Force Blue is clearly the yard's number one, but ought to do better this year given profile (sizeable sort who cost $2,200,000 as a yearling).

Buratino (Mark Johnston/James Doyle) - Thrived on busy spell early last season, culminating with impressive win in Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot by two lengths from Air Force Blue. Not as good when beaten two and a half lengths by that rival in Phoenix next time, but good half-length second to Shalaa in Middle Park Stakes here final start. One of the form principals and stamina on dam's side suggests he'll stay at least 7f, but easing of the ground not ideal, while it may be worth pointing out his trainer's four runners in this race this century have managed no better than thirteenth.

First Selection (Simon Crisford/Jim Crowley) - Spanish-bred colt who won four from six as a juvenile, including Solario Stakes at Sandown last August, as well as finishing close fifth in Group 1 won by Ultra at Longchamp (had run of the race) on final start. Too free when sixth of nine in 7f listed race at Meydan on return last month, but even his best form leaves him with loads to find here. Wears first-time hood.

Galileo Gold (Hugo Palmer/Frankie Dettori) - Three wins from five starts last year included Vintage Stakes at Goodwood in which he beat Ibn Malik (won Free Handicap on return) by three-quarters of a length. Improved again after 10 weeks off when one and a quarter lengths third of 11 to Ultra in Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp final start. Has won on good to soft ground and holds place claims for trainer who saddled Home of The Brave to finish sixth last year.

Herald The Dawn (Jim Bolger/Kevin Manning) - Won Futurity Stakes at the Curragh last August before creditable three lengths second to Air Force Blue in National Stakes there. Needed stronger gallop when three lengths seventh in Group 1 won by Ultra at Longchamp on final outing. Brother to same connections' 2013 winner of this race, Dawn Approach, but doesn't look in his class (rather headstrong like that colt) and a minor place probably the best he can hope for.

Kentuckyconnection (Bryan Smart/Connor Beasley) - Made winning debut at Redcar last July before sixth in Acomb, fourth in Champagne Stakes and sixth in listed race here (best effort stepped up to 1¼m). Unsuited by emphasis on speed dropped back to 1m in Kempton minor event on return and unlikely to better his trainers' previous runners in the race this century (pick of them was Misu Bond who finished fifth in 2006).

Marcel (Peter Chapple-Hyam/Pat Smullen) - Left debut run behind when a commanding winner of a Newcastle maiden last August, and took an even bigger leap forward when following up in Racing Post Trophy on rain-softened ground at Doncaster by one and a half lengths from Johannes Vermeer. Runner-up won a French Group 1 shortly after and this colt has as good each-way claims as most of these behind Air Force Blue for the trainer that won this race with Rodrigo de Triano in 1992.

Massaat (Owen Burrows/Paul Hanagan) - Backed up favourable impression made on his debut (second to subsequent Group 1 runner-up Cymric) when easily landing odds in Leicester maiden (good to soft ground), and improved plenty further when three and a quarter lengths second to Air Force Blue in Dewhurst here. Has the physical scope to have improved over the winter and will stay 1m, so looks a genuine contender, for a place at least, for his first-season trainer (has taken over from Barry Hills).

Ribchester (Richard Fahey/William Buick) - Made a highly promising start to his career when runner-up in both Doncaster maiden and Gimcrack Stakes at York last summer, and improved again when winning the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury (soft going) from Log Out Island. Ran respectably on return behind Cheikeljack in Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte, but spoiled his finishing effort by hanging left and was demoted from second to fifth. Should stay at least 7f.

Stormy Antarctic (Ed Walker/George Baker) - Cost plenty at the breeze-ups and proved very progressive at two, winning maiden at Sandown and minor event at Newbury before just failing in Group 1 won by Johannes Vermeer at Saint-Cloud. Those last two efforts came on soft ground, and again relished testing conditions when making winning reappearance in six-runner Craven Stakes over C&D by three and a half lengths from Foundation, coming from last. A first classic runner for his trainer and perhaps the biggest threat to Air Force Blue.

Zhui Feng (Amanda Perrett/Tom Queally) - Quickly developed into a useful performer last year, winning Kempton maiden and valuable sales race at this track (both 6f). Came out best at weights when half-length third of five to Thikriyaat in minor event here on return, but this is obviously much tougher.

Zonderland (Clive Cox/Adam Kirby) - Trainer saddled Xtension to finish fourth in 2010. Well backed when impressively beating previous
winners on debut at Kempton last September and not beaten far in Group 3s here and at Newbury (Horris Hill won by Crazy Horse) on subsequent starts. Pedigree offers hope he'll stay 1m, but needs to improve plenty to make his presence felt here.

Timeform's 2000 Guineas 1-2-3

1. Air Force Blue
2. Stormy Antarctic
3. Massaat

Timeform Analyst's Verdict:

It's hard to get away from AIR FORCE BLUE, whose devastating performance in last year's Dewhurst suggested he'll have no issue with this distance for all he clearly possess plenty of speed. With some rain having arrived, impressive Craven winner Stormy Antarctic can finish second ahead of thrice-raced pair Massaat and Marcel.

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