Betting on the Qipco 2,000 Guineas is so skewed towards the two favourites that neither retains any vestige of value.
Dawn Approach jumped through every hoop as a juvenile, will prove better again over this trip, and is in the best of hands with Jim Bolger. But anyone contemplating short odds must acknowledge that he found a couple of pretty slight Group One fields in the autumn, while the precocity he showed as early as March last year will be less of an asset against maturing rivals here.
One such, Toronado, has developed into a very handsome colt, with a long, fluent stride. But three rivals in varying states of readiness provided him a red carpet through his trial over the Guineas course and distance last month, and his form as yet lacks that elite lustre. Both favourites are plainly eligible, but no more than the odds allow.
The other unbeaten runner is Mars, who really will have to be out of this world to win a Classic on his first start since victorious in a Dundalk maiden last summer. He is joined from Ballydoyle by two more seasoned types – both sons of Henrythenavigator, who beat Dawn Approach’s sire, New Approach, in a photo for this race in 2008. Their trainer, Aidan O’Brien, reckons they share their father’s predilection for this fast ground and it is easy to picture a big run from either.
George Vancouver is a tempting price, having looked a different colt when winning the Juvenile Turf on fast going at the Breeders’ Cup last autumn. But O’Brien’s son, Joseph, has chosen Cristoforo Colombo, who has a bare length to find with Dawn Approach on their Coventry Stakes form at Royal Ascot and looked eager for this trip when fourth in the Middle Park over today’s course.
A couple of lengths ahead of him that day was the colt who appeals as best value now. Beaten only a neck by a top-drawer sprinter there, Moohaajim (3.50) is bred to do better again at a mile this year. Most people have been put off by his failure to find much off the bridle in his trial at Newbury, concluding that he did not see out even a seventh furlong there. But he could just as easily have needed the run, not least on unsuitably dead ground, and the way he travelled had left no doubt that he has trained on. There are many instances of horses making radical improvement between a comeback on easy ground at Newbury, and the big day on a faster surface here – and the very slow spring entitles Moohaajim to do just that at 25-1.
Hot Snap would be an enormously popular winner for Sir Henry Cecil in the fillies’ version, the Qipco 1,000 Guineas, tomorrow. But she cannot afford to get behind early, the way she did in her trial when sheltered from a crosswind. What A Name (3.50) looked a lot more streetwise in her own prep race and represents a rising star of the European Turf in Mikel Delzangles.
Sentimentalists could none the less be gratified overnight, when Orb and Oxbow look solid and value prospects respectively in the Kentucky Derby for two training legends in Shug McGaughey and Wayne Lukas.
CHRIS McGRATH’S NAP
Elusivity (2.35 Newmarket)
Ice Pie (2.45 Thirsk)