By Graham Clark/Jockey Club Racecourses
GB: Aidan O’Brien accounts for 12 of the 72 entries in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, which are headed by G1 Dewhurst Stakes first and second St Mark’s Basilica and Wembley.
The trainer of a record ten 2,000 Guineas winners has also nominated Battleground, winner of the G2 Vintage Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up, for the first Classic of the Flat season at Newmarket on May 1.
O’Brien’s son Joseph’s entries include Thunder Moon, winner of the G1 National Stakes who finished third in the Dewhurst, while Andrew Balding and Richard Hannon are represented too.
Shall we talk about it? 2,000 Guineas entries
Joseph O’Brien (trainer of Thunder Moon): “Thunder Moon has wintered well and we are pleased with where we are. There is plenty of water still to go under the bridge yet but it is exciting to have a live contender for the 2,000 Guineas. We were very pleased with the run in the Dewhurst considering the ground on the day. He was posted on a tougher part of the track as there was bias towards the stands rails but we were pleased with him.
“He is obviously a pretty quick horse on what he has done so far but he shapes as though a mile will be within compass, so I don’t see the trip being a problem. I do feel that he will be better on quicker ground as well. It is nice to have had a run at the track previously and that experience there won’t do him no harm. We have the option of running him beforehand but we will decide nearer the time and see how the horse is before making that decision.”
Andrew Balding (trainer of Youth Spirit): “He had a setback after the Vintage [finished third] at Goodwood – that’s why we didn’t see him for the rest of the year. We are just about to increase the speed of his work. He would be a possibility for the 2,000 Guineas.”
Richard Hannon (trainer of Chindit): “I’m very pleased with him and he has done very well. He did just a bit more than a canter a few days ago. Him Fancy Man and Etonian all worked and it was a lovely start. Regarding his Newmarket run [ninth in the Dewhurst], the times say that the ground was heavy and it looked it.
“Chindit will go wherever there is decent ground. If it turns up at Newbury that is where he will go first [Greenham]. He had done all his winning on flat tracks at Doncaster and Ascot before Newmarket and I’m not sure he loved the track. He has always been a neat horse with a good action. He is a good horse with a lot of speed. I think he would get the mile in a Guineas and would be suited by that trip as he is a very straightforward, simple horse.”
2,000 Guineas betting (Ladbrokes): 7 St Mark’s Basilica, Thunder Moon, 8 Wembley, 9 Battleground, 11 High Definition, 12 Cadillac, 14 Van Gogh, 16 Chindit, Lucky Vega, 20 bar
• Read more and see the entries at the Jockey Club Racecourses website
‘Consistently solid’ Pretty Gorgeous could stay further
Pretty Gorgeous, winner of the G1 Fillies’ Mile last season, heads 63 entries for the Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 2, in which Aidan O’Brien’s ten nominees include Santa Barbara.
Shall we talk about it? 1,000 Guineas entries
Joseph O’Brien (trainer of Pretty Gorgeous): “She is a course and distance winner so we know she gets the trip well. I was very pleased with the performance in the Fillies’ Mile. It was a brave performance as she had a bit of an interrupted preparation going into the race. She is an exciting filly.
“Her pedigree suggests she will be open to stay further than a mile as well which gives her plenty of options. Like with Thunder Moon, she has wintered well and I’m pleased with where we are. She was consistently solid last season and hopefully we can keep it that way. She was fine on both soft and good ground so she is versatile ground wise. A decision on whether she has a prep run will depend on how she is training and how we feel closer to the time.”
Jane Chapple-Hyam (trainer of Saffron Beach): “I’m thrilled with the way she has come back from her winter break at Ben and Lucy Sangster’s in Manton. She has put on a nice 77lbs and she has matured into a filly that should be competitive for the Guineas. The plan will be to start her off in the Nell Gwyn and then two weeks later head for the Guineas. It was a quick turnaround between her two runs in her maiden and the Oh So Sharp last season so we know she can do it.
“I think she is a serious filly that is potentially top drawer. She has wintered well and developed nicely. She has got all the right attributes. She has done it on different ground types and I think if it is real good ground you will really see her scoot along. She is not complicated as she doesn’t have to lead or have cover or come with a late run.
“I just think she has got an engine. I think having her has helped everyone in the yard and myself get through the winter and I just hope we can get her to the Guineas now. If you look at her last run she hit the rising ground going away so I don’t see the mile being a problem at all.”
Andrew Balding (trainer of Alcohol Free): “We are very much looking at the Guineas but that is still a long way off. She has had a good holiday but she still looks a bit wintery in her coat so we will see what happens over the next month as we all know what fillies can do in the spring. I really was impressed in the Cheveley Park as it was only her third run and she was entitled to improve again. She has done well physically but we haven’t really started serious work yet.
“Her pedigree offers mixed messages regarding the trip and that is about all I can go on at this stage. I’d be hopeful she would get it though as she relaxes pretty well but there is nothing we can do to find out until we try it. I think the plan if all goes well is to go to the Fred Darling first as a prep as I would like her to go over seven before going over a mile.”
Richard Hannon (trainer Happy Romance, Shine For You, Snow Lantern, Thank You Not): “Happy Romance has been a great advert for racing and for new owners coming into the sport. She was a pleasure to train last year. I didn’t think she was just a two year old I always thought she had the scope to go on. She didn’t handle the track great in the Cheveley Park but she ran well to finish fourth and the little bit more experience she gained will do her well. I’d think we will be looking at the Fred Darling first but I don’t think a mile will be a problem. She didn’t do anything wrong last year.
“Shine For You is a really smart filly and she seemed to enjoy her last run at the end of the year when the ground was pretty soft. She looks decent. She has got a lot of condition now. She hasn’t won a Listed race yet but hopefully she will be able to pick one up. A Guineas trip I feel will suit her. She seems to like soft ground and if it is like that at Newbury we will go for the Fred Darling.
“Snow Lantern only had one run last year and we put her away after that. She looks like she has huge potential. Hopefully she is a nice filly and we were very lucky with her mare. She was always a very heavy filly and she ran very well at Ascot and we saw enough that we decided to just put her away for this year.
“I’m very pleased with Thank You Next and she might run in the Spring Cup at Lingfield at the weekend. We might go for the Prix Imprudence if travel allows it afterwards and this race is a nice race to take on the way. The Guineas is an option but she has to prove she is up to that level. She was kept busy last year but Billesdon Brook had plenty of runs at two and that didn’t do her any harm and she seemed to improve all year. Seven might have been on the sharp side for her in the Oh So Sharp but I think a mile will be plenty for her.”
1,000 Guineas betting (Ladbrokes): 6 Pretty Gorgeous, 10 Santa Barbara, 12 Indigo Girl, 14 Shale, 16 Alcohol Free, Love Is You, Mother Earth, 20 Saffron Beach, Snow Lantern, 25 bar
• Read more and see the entries at the Jockey Club Racecourses website