Racing, like every sport, is forever on the lookout for the next box-office sensation and it is at this time of year in particular, come 2,000 Guineas day, when the Turf anticipates the emergence of a new superstar.
This season we have two who might fit the bill: Kingman, who created such a wonderful impression when making good horses look ordinary at Newbury last month; and Australia, a champion in the making, according to persuasive noises coming out of Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle camp.
Winning ugly will not do. If either of these colts is to be mentioned in the same breath as Nijinsky, Brigadier Gerard, Sea The Stars or Frankel, all of whom first declared their brilliance in this Newmarket Classic, they will need to win it in style.
Kingman, who runs in Frankel’s colours, had a bone chip removed from an ankle last year and connections have made no secret of their wish for easier ground than that prevailing on the Rowley Mile, described as “good to firm, good in places”.
Punters have been sensitive to those concerns and Kingman has been uneasy in the market this week, but supporters will take heart from trainer John Gosden’s “all systems go” bulletin yesterday.
Australia, like Kingman, is a Group Three winner, but O’Brien regards this beautifully bred son of the Derby winner Galileo, out of the Oaks winner Ouija Board, as “very special”, potentially the best he has trained, and there is already talk of an assault on the Triple Crown, a feat the stable went so close to achieving in 2012 with Camelot, but not actually accomplished by a colt since Nijinsky all of 44 years ago.
This would be a fine renewal of the 2,000 Guineas, even without Kingman and Australia, featuring as it does Group One winners in Toormore (National Stakes), War Command (Dewhurst Stakes) and Kingston Hill (Racing Post Trophy).
Outstrip, successful at the Breeders’ Cup, is another to take seriously, while further spice is provided by Spain’s first runner in the race, Noozhoh Canarias, who, a trailblazer by instinct, helps guarantee the fast pace that will find out those lacking the required stamina.
But the reputation of Australia (3.50 Newmarket) is surely much more than just Tipperary tittle-tattle and he might indeed be racing’s new main attraction.
Hot Streak (2.40 Newmarket) can strike a blow for the three-year-old sprinters by beating old hand Sole Power in the Palace House Stakes, while last season’s Irish Derby winner Trading Leather (3.10 Newmarket) will be difficult to beat in the Jockey Club Stakes. The Suffolk Handicap sets a puzzle, but the near miss of Stand My Ground (2.05 Newmarket) at Doncaster last time reads even better in the light of subsequent results.
In tomorrow’s 1,000 Guineas, the favourite Rizeena will face 17 opponents, although Amazing Maria and J Wonder joined My Titania as significant absentees from yesterday’s declarations.
For information regarding the QIPCO British Champions Series visit britishchampionsseries.com