There’s an excitement building among horse racing purists as we approach the renewal of the Irish 2000 Guineas which will be run on Saturday 26th May this year. The group one spectacle is decided over a mile and the 2018 version has attracted some of the sport’s best and brightest as they challenge for a 300,000 Euro prize.
First won by Right Tack for owner Jim Brown way back in 1969 we saw Churchill join an exclusive club when storming home under the ride of Ryan Moore 12 months ago, leaving runner-up Thunder Snow 2 ½ lengths behind.
There’s no chance of two-in-a-row with last year’s king out of the running but who will take his place on the top-step later this month? Bookmakers have a strong opinion and have Gustav Klimt as favourite. A look around many of the shrewd picks at Timeform today tells us punters are in agreement with that call when playing the ante-post market.
Favourite has won three of five
So, what’s the fuss about the Aidan O’Brien trained three-year-old colt? Well, breeding is certainly a plus point for the market leader who comes from the famous Galileo line and confidence can also be taken from his career stats having won three of five outings so far. That hot streak started with victory at this venue on his second run last summer over 7f with Ryan Moore in the saddle.
It was to be leg-one of an impressive hat-trick too, Gustav Klimt winning the group two Superlative Stakes at Newmarket next time out. He went off an odds-on favourite that day – 5/6 the starting price – but was made to work for his cheque with 10/1 shot Nebo pushing all the way to the line before ending best of the rest, beaten a head in a tense finish.
Fighting spirit needed there and we were to see more of that guts and glory approach when taking a listed race over 7f at Leopardstown in his first run of the year. A more convincing winning margin with silver medallist Imaging coming home almost two lengths behind in a competitive four-runner race as confidence grew in the O’Brien stable.
Is Gustav Klimt worth the risk?
There’s no doubt Gustav Klimt is a progressive sort with plenty more improvement to come but does he deserve to be such a convincing favourite of a respected race? There’s currently no more than 9/4 trading at Betfair on the bay securing win number four, although users of the Exchange will find bits and pieces of 11/4 around. The latter may just make him worth the risk but it should be known the jolly lost last time out in the English 2000 Guineas, getting nowhere near the victor.
Saxon Warrior did the business at Newmarket earlier this year with Klimt ending back in sixth having never been a danger to the main finishers. Seamie Heffernan took over for Moore on that occasion but it failed to have the desired effect and the most alarming aspect of that mid-division finish was the horse found no more when pushed for home two furlongs from the line. A change of pace was needed to apply pressure but it never came, Gustav running on at the same rate despite receiving encouragement from his pilot.
Imaging difficult to ignore
Punters happy to cast their eye further down the pecking order will find Imaging available at around the 8/1 mark and that will be far more difficult to ignore. The bigger price runner shares many similarities with the favourite, having also won three of his first five and being a three-year-old colt, but he has never been out of the first two to date and arrives on the back of a confidence-boosting win in the Tetrarch Stakes at Naas.
Dermot Weld’s hopeful lost a 2000 Guineas trial to Gustav Klimt back in April but he was leading towards the business end of the race and despite keeping on well when push came to shove he was headed inside the final furlong by a rival with a bit more on the day.
If keeping that race in mind it’s almost impossible to see how odds compilers can make the winner a 9/4 fav and the narrow runner-up as chunky as 8/1. That’ll catch the attention of value hunters on the look-out for a slip-up from traders.
Warrior won’t go down without a fight
Going beyond Imaging in the charts and odds start to become a little far-fetched but one outsider who leaps off the page is Saxon Warrior, currently doing the rounds at a jaw-dropping 12/1 (Paddy Power). Yes, that’s the same Saxon Warrior who was seen beating Gustav Klimt at Suffolk in the English version of this race, and comfortably too.
Another from the O’Brien string it’s a big ask to expect the bay to do the Guineas double, but his price will ensure there’s an interest in the betting ring. If you’re after a runner with a perfect CV then Saxon Warrior is your boy too, his copybook reading four runs, four wins.
As well as banking the 2000 Guineas in May he picked up another group one race in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster late last year and the group two Juddmonte Stakes, Naas in what was his second run. Big things are expected of this 3YO and it’s surprising odds-makers don’t share the same level of optimism.
If having a bet it may help to know that trainer Aidan O’Brien has dominated this event in recent years with last year’s champion Churchill being his seventh winner in 10 renewals. It’s no surprise shrewd eyes are keen to keep the man from County Wexford close. Lover of the trends? Jockey Ryan Moore sat on the winner in 2017 and has steered two of the last three, the other being Gleneagles in 2015.