Timefigure Preview: 2000 Guineas

On a 2000 Guineas Saturday when Ryan Moore has elected to ride in the Kentucky Derby instead of at Newmarket,

Timefigure Preview: 2000 Guineas

On a 2000 Guineas Saturday when Ryan Moore has elected to ride in the Kentucky Derby instead of at Newmarket,

And in a week where Aidan O’Brien saddled the joint shortest-priced loser in Great Britain or Ireland since Thankyou Stars was beaten at 16/1-on in 2016, it might appear that the all-conquering Ballydoyle outfit is, for once, just very slightly vulnerable.

Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt Picture:Pat Healy Photography

Anyone approaching the race from a timefigure perspective, however, would find it hard to argue that the market, at the time of writing at least, has things much wrong - O’Brien saddles both the favourite Gustav Klimt and third favourite Saxon Warrior among his three runners.

Saxon Warrior
Saxon Warrior Picture:Pat Healy Photography

Gustav Klimt Horseform has the best timefigure among the Guineas field (115) and he showed when posting that figure in the 2000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown three weeks ago that not only is the son of Galileo fit and well, and clearly a much better horse than he was able to show when previously seen scrambling home in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket, but that he is more than ready for a step up to a mile. That Leopardstown performance was rated 122, 7 lb higher than the timefigure, and while the upgrade from three furlongs out was 0 lb it was only in the final furlong that Gustav Klimt really got going, and in all likelihood he’s capable of a lot better than 122 at this longer trip.

Saxon Warrior Horseform has the joint second highest timefigure (114) in the Guineas field courtesy of his defeat of the re-opposing Roaring Lion in the Racing Post Trophy. The unbeaten son of Deep Impact emerged from that race with a better upgrade (7 lb) than Roaring Lion, but the form has taken a few knocks since, not least with Roaring Lion finishing well beaten behind Masar in the Craven Stakes.

Indeed, in the absence of Without Parole, the Godolphin representative is probably the primary obstacle in the way of Ballydoyle’s eighth win in the race since 2000. Masar Horseform hasn’t often had the opportunity to register a big timefigure having done some of his racing abroad and then then setting a steady gallop in the Craven, but his 26 lb sectional upgrade when sprinting clear to win that race by nine lengths was easily the best of the winners across the three days of the Craven meeting, and his combined timefigure and upgrade comes out at 122. It shouldn’t be forgotten either that Masar ran the latter stages of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (in which James Garfield was comfortably held) a fair bit faster than the winner Mendelssohn but had no chance of pegging him back after getting into a poor position.

In summary the 2000 Guineas is up for grabs with no one runner having yet achieved the required standard, which is usually around 126. If there is to be a surprise package it might well be the unbeaten Elarqam, who impressed with his attitude in the Tattersalls Stakes last year - though one-time favourite Expert Eye might well also fall into that category after his last two defeats - but Gustav Klimt looks the most likely winner on the clock particularly seeing as he has still to show his hand over a mile.

Just over an hour before the Guineas the Palace House Stakes has attracted nine runners with sole three-year-old Havana Grey the clear market leader. Karl Burke’s front-running 2017 Molecomb winner looks one to take on, however, given she is up against some race-fit older horses on her first start of the season and, on the clock at least, the chances of Robert Cowell’s Encore d’Or seem to have been underestimated.

Encore d'Or Horseform comes out comfortably best of these on both timefigures and upgrades on his last two starts, and though those races were handicaps on polytrack he was a winner in listed company on the turf at Doncaster last autumn. He is just as effective held up as from the front, and though he wouldn’t normally be up to the standard usually required for a Group 3, this looks a sub-standard renewal, and the booking of the bang-in-form James Doyle is a big plus.

It’s no surprise to see Charlie Appleby’s Old Persian contesting the listed Newmarket Stakes having won the usually-informative three-year-old handicap over C&D at the Craven meeting. He will likely head the betting but has nothing in hand on times and the claims of John Gosden’s Graffiti Master are more persuasive. He contested the Zetland Stakes on his final run as a juvenile after winning a minor race at Kempton and looked second-best for a long way in a well-run contest. That race looks a very good form guide with several in behind having boosted the form since.


Back Gustav Klimt in the 2000 Guineas

Back Encore d’Or in the Palace House Stakes

Back Graffiti Master in the Newmarket Stake

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