Horse Racing Tips

Timeform 2,000 Guineas Preview: O'Brien can seal win number Ten

Newmarket racecourse
Saturday's 2000 Guineas is the first British Classic of the season

"...he looks the one to beat in the opening Classic of the season."

Timeform on Ten Sovereigns

Timeform preview Saturday's 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and pick out their best bet.

Unsurprisingly, Aidan O'Brien has a strong hand here, and two of his string head both the betting and Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings for the race at the time of writing, Ten Sovereigns and Magna Grecia. The former is one of just four unbeaten colts in the field (along with Skardu, Name The Wind and Al Hilalee), and sits 1 lb clear of the field on Timeform ratings having completed the perfect two-year-old season by winning the Middle Park Stakes over six furlongs here last September. All three of his starts last term came over six furlongs, and while he has plenty of speed in his pedigree being a grandson of Scat Daddy, his make-up suggests that he should stay the mile-long trip here, for all that his future longer-term could well be as a sprinter. As such, he looks the one to beat in the opening Classic of the season.

Magna Grecia, like Ten Sovereigns, was a high-profile two-year-old in his own right last year, having all three of his starts inside of a month - which culminated in winning the Futurity Trophy at Doncaster in October. Admittedly, that was a sub-standard renewal, though the way he found extra when it was required of him suggested that the tight finish wasn't quite the scramble for him as it may have looked. A son of Invincible Spirit, whose best progeny have been either sprinters or milers, it's likely that Magna Grecia won't make up into a Derby contender on the back of this, but he has strong form claims, and ought to make a bold bid with more improvement to come. Also due to represent Aidan O'Brien is Van Beethoven, who is capable of useful form at peak, but looks to have plenty to find with the principals.

Another smart two-year-old last season was the Martyn Meade-trained Advertise, who won last year's Pheonix Stakes at the Curragh in August before signing off with a career-best effort to finish second behind Too Darn Hot in the Dewhurst over a furlong shorter here in October. He was unfortunate to bump into such an outstanding rival in Too Darn Hot that day, considering he achieved a performance rating as good as some Dewhurst winners, and he left the firm impression with that run that he ought to prove as least as effective over a mile this term, for all that he's slightly more exposed than some of his rivals.

Two interesting alternatives are the unbeaten pair of Al Hilalee and Skardu. The latter arrives here on the back of an impressive win in the Craven Stakes over C&D earlier this month (Momkin second, Set Piece third, Royal Marine fourth), impressing with the way he improved from the rear to score. Admittedly, he needs to improve somewhere in region of 10 lb to play a leading role in this, but he is sure to progress again and at the very least arrives here without any question marks against him. Al Hilalee was supplemented for this by Godolphin on Monday, after he pleased connections with a racecourse gallop at Meydan last week. He hasn't been back in the UK for long, only arriving here on Sunday, but was unbeaten in two starts last season, most recently winning a listed contest over a mile at Deauville in August. He strictly has plenty to find on Timeform ratings with the principals, but connections clearly think highly of him, and he rates as a lively outsider.

Al Hilalee is one of three potential runners for Godolphin, alongside Dark Vision and Royal Marine. The former made an emphatic start to his two-year-old career for Mark Johnston last summer, progressing from a minor race to a Group 2 victory at Glorious Goodwood in just three starts over 26 days, but he's struggled in two starts since being purchased by Godolphin, and has something to prove here having finished third in a conditions race at Chelmsford on reappearance this month. Royal Marine was behind Skardu in the Craven last time out, finishing fourth, but he shaped well considering that things never quite fell right for him on the day, getting himself into trouble in-running due to his own keenness. He produced some smart form as a two-year-old, however, winning the Group 1 Grand Criterium at Longchamp last October, and would have solid claims if building on that reappearance run in the Craven. Meanwhile, both Momkin and Set Piece were in-front of Royal Marine last time out, though they would both need more to have serious claims here.

Another runner who is worthy of a mention is Madhmoon, who finished second in Leopardstown's 2000 Guineas Trial earlier this month. He surrendered his unbeaten record that day, but emerged with his reputation intact, only being narrowly beaten by a race-fit rival who was in receipt of 3 lb. A Group 2 winner as a two-year-old last season, he remains open to further improvement and is another to consider.

Finally, two more to consider are Great Scot and Kick On. The latter arrives here on the back of a winning reappearance, having shown a good attitude when a battling winner of the Fielden Stakes over a furlong further here earlier this month. It's interesting that connections have opted to head here considering that they were considering at tilt at the Poule d'Essai des Poulains, and Kick On has solid each-way claims with more improvement a possibility. Great Scot was unable to make a winning return himself in the Greenham Stakes this month, but he produced a career-best effort to finish second, and is clearly a smart colt.

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