As of last autumn this year’s 2000 Guineas was shaping up to be the race of a lifetime.
After John Gosden’s Calyx won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in awesome fashion given that he was on the wrong side of the track, he was an early favourite for the contest before we saw performances from several other brilliant juveniles.
Charlie Appleby’s Quorto was magnificent in winning his Group 1 in Ireland while Too Darn Hot after winning the Dewhurst Stakes finished the year as the highest rated two-year-old since Frankel no less. Add to this the fact that French raider Persian King is the best Gallic challenger we’ve seen in many a year and you can see the depth of the race.
These names are quite apart from the fact that Group 1 winners Magna Grecia, Line Of Duty and Royal Marine were all being aimed at the race and this season has seen fine trials won by Skardu and Mohaather who firmly put their names into the mix.
As tends to happen though, the race began to break up. First came Calyx’s apparent aim at the sprint division, Quorto took an injury that means he misses both this race and the Derby while Too Darn Hot’s recent setback means he also now has to be rerouted.
Persian King’s trainer Andre Fabre has indicated, despite all of this, that his colt is now 90% certain to stay in France to contest the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) meaning things have opened up massively and that’s where Calyx re-enters calculations.
Trainer John Gosden, who would have had the hot favourite of course in Too Darn Hot, and Teddy Grimthorpe who is racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah have both been at pains to say that this was always still on the cards for Calyx but one can’t help thinking that he is once again being aimed at the race because of recent withdrawals.
The pair have stated that, as long as they believe after his last piece of work that he can get the mile, he can be prepped for a go at the first classic of the year and the news has sent bookmakers spiralling.
From last weekend until Tuesday, Calyx’s price shot down from 20/1 to a general 6/1 and 7/1 across the boards but even that may look big when you consider the ability he has.
To have won a strong Coventry Stakes when drawn in the entirely wrong place shows him to be genuinely top class and despite worries about his stamina, a look at his breeding means connections should be confident. Calyx is by top class mile champion Kingman out of an Observatory mare meaning the only real negative is the amount of time he has spent off the track.
Given his profile and the spectre of not quite knowing what we’ll get this year from him, Too Darn Hot’s withdrawal from this race has meant that Calyx is now the star attraction and yet he could go off at a very backable price.