TRAINER Aidan O’Brien has already saddled a remarkable seven QIPCO 2000 Guineas (3.35pm) winners and will fancy his chances of landing an eighth with the well-fancied Churchill.
The son of Galileo broke his maiden tag as a two-year-old in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and followed that with four wins on the bounce including two at Group One level.
His defeat of Mehmas in the National Stakes and then his Dewhurst victory saw him leap to the top of the betting for tomorrow’s one mile contest, a position he has held all winter.
All the vibes coming from Ballydoyle are that he is in rude health and my grounds for opposing him are based purely on his price.
At 7/4, he is virtually the same price now that he was after winning the Dewhurst back in October, even though a handful of genuine contenders have emerged from the trials in recent weeks.
The reality is that none may be in the same class, but that is very much reflected in his price and don’t forget that the same connections saddled odds-on Air Force Blue who bombed out 12 months ago.
Looking at the opposition and the most obvious starting point is unbeaten French raider AL WUKAIR who burst into the picture with an impressive win in the Prix Djebel on only his third start last month.
Any horse Andre Fabre sends to Newmarket has to be respected and there is every chance he could be the one to upset the favourite and secure his trainer a third win in the race.
However, at just 7/2 with Ladbrokes, he is pretty short for one encountering genuinely fast ground for the first time.
I’m also concerned by the way he travelled at Maisons-Laffitte in his trial and his inability to hold an early position is a worry as they tend to go hard from the start here.
That said, he showed an impressive turn of foot that day that make him a leading player here.
Eminent created a good impression when landing the Craven Stakes on only his second racecourse start when beating Group One winner Rivet.
His trainer Martyn Meade feels there is plenty of improvement to come and he looks sure to go well.
Immediate post-race quotes of 14/1 have long gone and he is now no bigger than 5/1 with 188BET to make if a perfect three from three.
However, of all the performance in the trials, it was BARNEY ROY’s win in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury that impressed me the most.
Having won his only start as a two-year-old, he was snapped up by Godolphin before quickening up in impressive style to gun down Dream Castle late on in Newbury.
The race was run at a decent pace and the winner gave every impression that an extra furlong would play even more to his strengths.
He seemed at home on the good to firm surface and visually produced a performance to suggest he could be a little bit special.
Hannon saddled Night Of Thunder, who was actually beaten in the Greenham, to win the 2000 Guineas back in 2014, so knows how to ready one for Newmarket.
Dream Castle finished behind Barney Roy in the Greenham having committed for home a long way out.
He will surely be ridden with more constraint tomorrow and the application of a hood should also help him although he looks a sprinter in the making.
It would be easy to select favourite Churchill as the final pick in my 1-2-3, but instead I am going to go for his pacemaker LANCASTER BOMBER at a whopping 40/1 with Coral.
He finished second to Churchill in last season’s Dewhurst rallying when it had looked like he had been swallowed up.
After that he ran a cracker to finish runner-up on fast ground in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and showed his tenacity to run through the dirt to finish fourth in last month UAE Derby.
What he lacks in quality, he more than makes up for in terms of experience, fitness and tenacity and it would be no surprise to see him hit the frame.
QIPCO 2000 GUINEAS