Just a week or so ago the 2000 Guineas market was all about one horse, Too Darn Hot, but as is so often the case in horse racing everything has now changed and in double-quick time.
After the long-time favourite and champion two-year-old suffered a setback and was unable to run in the Greenham Stakes last weekend, John Gosden’s star colt is now not even certain to line-up with his handler assessing the situation over the coming days.
With that now public knowledge, the Dewhurst Stakes winner continued to drift in the market on Wednesday having been odds-on over the winter and is now a top price of 5/2 against.
Lord Lloyd-Webber’s son of Dubawi had his grip on the first classic of the year loosened further by the time the feature race of Newmarket’s meeting this week was run, the Craven Stakes, after race goers witnessed a fine performance by William Haggas’ Shamardal colt Skardu who ran on well in the closing stages to beat Momkin by a neck on the line.
Skardu is now a general 6/1 and 7/1 fifth-favourite for the big race on May 4th back at HQ but if the Craven is indeed to produce the Guineas winner, it does not necessarily have to be the first past the post who has the best chance of Group 1 success.
Already a Group 1 winner having taken the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere over Arc weekend in Paris last October, Godolphin’s Royal Marine had easily the worst trip from start to finish, taking a keen hold and having to be switched left more than once before plugging on for fourth place.
The Saeed bin Suroor-trained colt was beaten only 2½ lengths at the line and must be well fancied to turn the tables on Skardu next time, making him great value at a general 14/1 for the Guineas.
It’s also worth pointing out, perhaps with middle-distance races in mind, that in winning his juvenile Group 1 Royal Marine beat home Broome of the Aidan O’Brien yard who has now gone on to trounce his Group 3 Ballysax Stakes opposition by 8 lengths in early April.
Bin Suroor has recently described Christophe Soumillon as the best jockey in the world but frankly, at the risk of becoming “one of those people” who criticises jockeys, the ride he gave Royal Marine this time leaves a lot to be desired and it would be interesting to see how he gets on should Oisin Murphy retake the reigns.
There were strong performances from second and third Momkin and Set Piece, each available at around 25/1 for the big race, while those in behind are unlikely to face the starter at Group 1 level any time soon.
The market then has become all the more confused in recent days and what doesn’t help punters is the fact that some trainers now insist on running their horses in the Guineas first time up rather than taking in a trial, something that is the case with Ten Sovereigns, Magna Grecia and Advertise, the latter having had a satisfactory racecourse gallop at Newmarket.
The solid one in the market with good trial form right now is probably Mohaather, a cool winner of the Greenham and one who is on offer at 16/1 at the time of writing with his trainer Marcus Tregoning strong in the belief that he is capable of winning at the top level.