Kingman seizes second chance at 2,000 Guineas crown

Unlucky loser at Newmarket makes no mistake at the Curragh to set up Royal Ascot showdown
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The Independent Online

For Kingman, narrowly beaten as hot favourite for the 2,000 Guineas three weeks ago, compensation was duly achieved yesterday in the Irish version of the Classic at the Curragh, and with the victory the Group One kudos needed for a lucrative stallion career.

For punters, the ticket to riches came in a much humbler contest around half an hour later. The 7-1 shot Chatez took a handicap at Haydock and ensured that racing's version of the lottery, the Scoop6 pool bet, finally paid out after rolling over for 12 weeks, earning eight winners £1.3 million each.

Kingman carries the Khaled Abdullah colours made most famous by Frankel, and an impressive wide-margin success first time out this season earned him some comparisons with that paragon. His defeat on the Rowley Mile, where he was probably unfortunate to be mugged close home by the 40-1 shot Night Of Thunder in a messily run contest, may yet prove to be a blip in a glittering career, for he took yesterday's prize by an comfortable five lengths.

The Invincible Spirit colt, the 4-5 favourite despite trainer John Gosden's pre-race concerns about his ability to handle the testing, rain-softened ground, was always galloping within himself in the pack as Night Of Thunder's Richard Hannon stablemate Shifting Power, fourth at Newmarket, blazed a steady trail. As soon as rider James Doyle asked, Kingman stamped his class on the contest, quickening generously clear inside the final furlong. Shifting Power (7-1) kept going to give the British raiders a one-two, with the Dermot Weld-trained Mustajeeb the best of the locals, in front of the Aidan O'Brien candidate Johann Strauss.

"It was heavy old ground," said Gosden, "but the course was in good condition. I said to James to sit chilly and wait and wait, because the mile here takes some getting, but two out you could see he was cruising, and he picked up under just a hand ride. He's a very talented horse and we had to take the chance to make him a Classic winner, as that is hugely important to him for the future."

It was a first Classic success for Doyle, who was appointed as Abdullah's retained jockey last summer. "I'm delighted for the horse," he said. "He felt like a superstar today." Kingman is odds-on to take his revenge on Night Of Thunder in their showdown in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot next month.

The 2,000 Guineas field was reduced to 11 by three withdrawals because of the conditions, of whom War Command, much fancied to give Aidan O'Brien a fourth in a row, after Magician, Power and Roderic O'Connor, was the most significant. But yesterday's result still had positives for Ballydoyle, with the Guineas form so well advertised ahead of the bid for the Derby of the stable star Australia, third at Newmarket.

The Classic fillies have their turn this afternoon in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, when once again the Newmarket runner-up, in this case Lightning Thunder, has the opportunity to go one better. She, too, is likely to start favourite.

There are a couple of significant Group One older-horse clashes to relish, too. It is hard to escape the shadow of Frankel; his half-sister Joyeuse won at Goodwood yesterday, and this afternoon at the Curragh his brother Noble Mission steps up to the top level in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, with Magician his chief rival. And at Longchamp the eight-year-old Cirrus Des Aigles, will test the young mettle of last weekend's Lockinge Stakes winner, Olympic Glory, another talented Hannon inmate, in the Prix d'Ispahan.

The perspicacious holders of the eight winning Scoop6 tickets – who picked Bear Behind at 16-1, Conry (17-2), Wee Jean (8-1), Joyeuse (3-1), Johnny Cavagin (9-2) and finally Chatez – will have the chance to add to their new-found millionaire status next Saturday by playing for a bonus pot of £5.4 million.