2000 Guineas Preview: O'brien To Make Big Impact Again

With eight wins in the 2000 Guineas to his name, there is only one place to start this preview of Saturday's race at Newmarket.

2000 Guineas Preview: O'brien To Make Big Impact Again

With eight wins in the 2000 Guineas to his name, there is only one place to start this preview of Saturday's race at Newmarket.

Aidan O’Brien. Fresh from a 2017 season in which he set a new world record by training 28 Group or Grade 1 winners in one calendar year – the 26th win of which was achieved when Saxon Warrior won the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster – the master of Ballydoyle is set to saddle that horse and as many as three others as he looks to begin the Classic season with as much authority as last season’s equine star Cracksman managed when storming clear in last Sunday’s Prix Ganay.

Saxon Warrior
Saxon Warrior Picture:Pat Healy Photography

A tall Deep Impact colt with a powerful action and high cruising speed, Saxon Warrior Horseform had already won twice prior to Doncaster and that experience appeared to stand him in good stead as he won by a neck from Roaring Lion, battling back to lead again in the final 100 yards having been headed. Roaring Lion failed to frank the form when a distant third behind all-the-way winner Masar in the Craven Stakes, but surely failed to give his true running there and is not one to discount just yet, especially if faced with softer ground.

Masar Picture:Pat Healy Photography

Masar Horseform relished the return to quick ground that day, having failed to fire on dirt in Dubai six weeks earlier, and though unlikely to have things all his own way here, he has already run to a level which would have seen him placed – at worst – in every 2000 Guineas this century. Saxon Warrior, meanwhile, will stay middle distances and is favourite for the Derby, justly so, but he could be in the mould of Camelot who did more than use the Guineas as a stepping-stone to Epsom.

U S Navy Flag
U S Navy Flag Picture:Pat Healy Photography

Stablemate Gustav Klimt showed very smart form in three 2017 starts, including when winning the Superlative Stakes on the July Course (value for plenty extra when beating Nebo by a head, leading late on after being badly hampered). He missed the rest of the season through injury (suffered a muscle tear in his preparation for the Dewhurst Stakes), but proved his well-being in the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial on his return last month, impressing with the way he was able to overhaul a race-fit rival who had got first run. He’s a leading player, with the step up in trip likely to suit on running style, if not totally assured on pedigree (dam a 6f winner).

The aforementioned Dewhurst could prove to be a key piece of form on Saturday. U S Navy Flag Horseform completed a hat-trick when beating stablemates Mendelssohn, Seahenge and Threeandfourpence that day in October. He was disappointing in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (dirt) on his next start, but shaped as though better for the run when last of four to Gustav Klimt at Leopardstown last time (heavy ground).

U S Navy Flag is likely to be much closer to form here, a comment that also applies to Expert Eye Horseform, who won the Vintage Stakes impressively last term but failed to beat a rival when sent off the 7/4-on favourite for the Dewhurst on his next start. He took a step back in the right direction when runner-up to James Garfield in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury on return last month, despite pulling hard. More is needed here, and his sire Acclamation has only had one previous runner in this race who finished last, but he should not be discounted, especially if notably strong in the betting (very weak at Newbury).

James Garfield, meanwhile, has done all of his winning on flat tracks and is yet to face the dip. His form doesn't really look good enough, in truth, even if he stays, and the top sprints later in the year may prove more his cup of tea.

In contrast, this race looks tailor-made for Elarqam. The Frankel colt created a good impression when winning both starts in 2017, including the Somerville Tattersall Stakes here (by two and a quarter lengths from Tip Two Win, staying on strongly despite taking keen hold). Alarqam has been the subject of positive reports of late, should be suited by this longer trip (dam won five Group 1s at a mile, including the 1000 Guineas over C&D), and he looks just the type to progress further this term.


Saxon Warrior’s Racing Post Trophy win was the race which saw Aidan O’Brien surpass trainer Bobby Frankel's 2003 mark of 25 Grade/Group 1 winners in a calendar year, and he is selected to emulate the great Frankel and win the 2000 Guineas in style.

Recommended bet:

Saxon Warrior to win Saturday’s 2000 Guineas at Newmarket at 5/1

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