Catherine the Great had hers shot, Guy de Maupassant wrote what his dictated, Queen Elizabeth I died soon after seeing hers, and Mick Fitzgerald's is a young Jim Davidson. We're talking doppelgangers...
Something will come out of this trials week with its standing and Guineas chance enhanced. For my money, and it's already down, Moohaajim is more likely than most...
A doppelganger, or more simply a double, can be a source of fun for some, a source of psychological anxiety in others, or a source for defence in the case of Paris Hilton who, accused of driving erratically, insisted that the witness must had confused her with a doppelganger: 'There are a lot of Paris Hilton lookalikes who are always doing things and I'm getting blamed for it.' That must explain a tape I once saw. Sorry, tapes.
In the racing manual for interviewing trainers, and there is one because I've used it, rule #2 - after the golden rule #1 of kiss ass, then kiss ass some more - is whenever asking the trainer to compare horse X with horse Y, always precursor it with 'I know you don't like comparing but...'
Trainers might not like comparing, but we the masses do, and not just horses. That's why Go Compare has 80 adverts a night and the One Stop store doesn't. We're in the evaluation era, and on top of that we like to box things off, to compartmentalise, or at least we do in the Timeform nerve centre, some say nerd centre.
This compare-and-classify procedure is fundamental to racing analysis, and therefore it's only natural that we dip into the past to get some handle on the present, so that analogies are made with or without a trainer's blessing. Using this unscientific theory that identifying a similarly-moulded horse, cut from identical cloth, from the past can somehow help us understand a developing horse from the present, and perhaps even inform about its future, let's find the doppelgangers for the main Guineas contenders, many of them going on trial this week, starting with the quartet in the Craven.
For Toronado, see Trumpet Major. Horse one and we're already stretching it a bit, because Trumpet Major has never gone beyond a mile whereas that's definitely where Toronado's future lies, possibly all the way to the Derby, but at this stage there are similarities in that both won a five-runner Champagne Stakes and the suspicion is that, like Trumpet Major before him, Toronado may come up short of Group 1 standard, his form not especially strong and having the run of the race at Doncaster when beating...
For Dundonnell, see Trade Fair. Their kinship is more striking, beyond the Charlton/Juddmonte partnership, and for starters both were amongst the best-looking horses of their generation. Trade Fair was attempted to be shaped into a miler before finding his more natural home over seven furlongs, and I can't help but feel that Dundonnell, whose strong-travelling style was the hallmark of his two-year-old performances, including the mile of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (faded into fourth) subsequent to finding less than Toronado in the finish of the Champagne, is headed in that same direction. Dundonnell is destined to win the Criterion, not a Guineas.
For Havana Gold, see Dick Turpin. Four from six as a juvenile, and making the very most of what he's got. Despite one top-level success, in Italy towards the end of his racing days, Dick Turpin was essentially a Group 2 miler, and Havana Gold has likewise got 'Group 2 miler' written all over him. Dick Turpin did, however, win first time out each season, helping him nick a Guineas trial from a higher-profile stablemate. Hmm...
For Tawhid, see Ibn Khaldun. In the same way that Ibn Khaldun did, Tawhid ended up one of the leading British juveniles after taking off once the emphasis was more on stamina in the autumn, on a real roll then. Ibn Khaldun, like plenty of Godolphin doppelgangers before and since him, never got it back, though. Unless Tawhid translates to 'trendbreaker', I fear the worst.
For Cristoforo Colombo, see his dad. As kids, Henrythenavigator had his ears figuratively flicked by New Approach but, a year older, with more ground to cover, the bullied became the bully in the Guineas. Their sons, Cristoforo Colombo and Dawn Approach, have followed a similar script so far, and there's a chance, just a chance, that Cris will prove a chip off Henry's block and go from boy to man in double-quick time. The mile will certainly put hairs on his deep chest.
For Olympic Glory, see Canford Cliffs. Not quite a mirror image, but the pair were crack two-year-olds, both blessed with loads of speed and a sharp turn of foot, the burst Olympic Glory showed to get out of trouble in the Vintage a better reflection than his heavy-ground grind in the Grand Criterium on Arc day. Olympic Glory is likely to take less time to adapt to miling than Canford Cliffs, but Longchamp rather than Newmarket is being selected amongst his SatNav destination list.
For Moohaajim, see Excelebration. I'll have to hold my hands up for this one, as the only real connection is Botti and the Greenham, but there is the underestimation factor to consider. Regardless that he was in you know who's generation, Excelebration was under the radar ahead of his three-year-old campaign, and the same seems to be true of Moohaajim, still available at 20/1 for the Guineas, but unfairly so in his case. Very unfairly. Here was have a horse who ran a screamer in the Prix Morny on only his second start and came within a few pixels of winning the Group 1 Middle Park on his final one. His form is about as good as any bar Dawn Approach, and he's bred to be suited by a mile let alone stay it: Cape Cross has sired winners of the Derby and Oaks, don't forget.
For Mars, see Rip Van Winkle. Stay with me on this one, because at first glance there's little or no correlation, other than Ballydoyle, between the once-raced maiden winner Mars and the Group 1-tested at two Rip Van Winkle. Nevertheless, Rip Van Winkle was more hype than substance going into the Guineas, which couldn't be more true of Mars, and Newmarket was used more of a means to a Derby end for the Ripper, as you can see happening with Mars. Rip Van Winkle went from strength to strength at three and ended up in - provided such a thing exists -the Ballydoyle Hall of Fame. Will a Mars one day maybe rework Rip's way?
For Dawn Approach, see New Approach. Shelling peas this one. Trained by Bolger and bought into by Sheikh Mohammed, the top two-year-old and unbeaten all along, including the major juvenile races in Ireland and Britain, the National and Dewhurst, and a justifiably short-priced favourite for the Guineas, plus a will-he-won't-he conundrum regards the Derby. Only, actually, New Approach and Dawn Approach are pretty much chalk and cheese in terms of style. While Approach snr often seemed on the brink and ran headstrong, headlong through his races, Approach jnr is a far more switched-off, pseudo-lazy character, to the point he'd sometimes worry you mid-race with his flat spots. Despite a stellar career, New Approach didn't win the Guineas, pipped by Henrythenavigator. 'Any advice, Dad?' 'Yeah, look out for the lad in the dark blue.'
I'd suggest he should also look out for the stocky kid in the yellow and blue, namely Moohaajim, or Excelebration mkII as the doppelganger goes. If Moohaajim can take care of Canford Cliffs mkII and co in the Greenham - and he can - then he'll halve in price. Something will come out of this trials week with its standing and Guineas chance enhanced. For my money, and it's already down, Moohaajim is more likely than most.
Back Moohaajim @ [22.0] in the 2000 Guineas