2,000 Guineas selection: Madhmoon (7/1)

This weekend sees Classic action return to Britain as Newmarket hosts the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas Stakes, on Saturday and Sunday respectively, over the Rowley Mile.

The ante-post market for the 2,000 Guineas has received several blows in recent months as favourites Too Darn Hot, Calyx and Quorto have all seen injuries prevent their participation, while Andre Fabre hasn’t been tempted to seize the opportunity with France’s star three-year-old Persian King.

That leaves a fairly wide-open betting heat, however I’m feeling confident we can rule out all bar my short-list of five – which happen to occupy the top five slots in the betting.

Ten Sovereigns 4/1f

To my eye the class horse in the race on his juvenile efforts – and official ratings agree – however he’s not raced beyond sprinting trips and his stamina is a doubt until he proves otherwise.

That said, there’s nothing in this Guineas field that will have more pace than him, which means he will be almost impossible to beat if he stays the trip well and gets a clear run.

You could say we’re getting 4/1 that he’ll stay, which doesn’t feel that bad, and he’s the right favourite on known form, while trainer Aidan O’Brien has jocked up stable jockey Ryan Moore, which suggests the No Nay Never colt is the yard’s number one hope.

Magna Grecia 5/1

Also trained by serial Classic winner Aidan O’Brien, this son of Invincible Spirit is proven at Group One level over a mile and to a degree at Newmarket when chasing home Persian King, but jockey bookings suggest he’s the yard’s number two.

Whilst respecting his clear chance, I’m keen to take him on as he’s a fair price at best and his juvenile form didn’t stand him out as anything particularly special – and official ratings agree.

There is the big caveat that O’Brien’s yard was under a cloud during the summer months last season and Magna Grecia only made his debut late in September, backing up quickly to run twice more in higher grades within a month of his debut, so he has a lot of scope to improve.

It’s very difficult to see him finishing outside of the places, so it could be a ‘free’ each-way bet if you’re adverse to rolling the dice on something more speculative.

Madhmoon 15/2

Now a confirmed runner despite concerns he’s more of an Irish Guineas candidate, he will relish the fast ground and Newmarket and can blame softer conditions and a 3lb penalty for his defeat by a race-fit rival on reappearance this season.

His sire Dawn Approach won the Guineas in 2013 and Madhmoon looks his most talented son to date, so with the benefit of a prep run over 7f he has to have a big chance of emulating dad.

Stamina is assured – he probably stays further – and I would be hard pushed to argue Magna Grecia has form superior enough to justify being half Madhmoon’s price, so there’s a value angle there.

Big chance.

Skardu 8/1

Twice raced at Newmarket and twice victorious, most recently when landing the Craven Stakes over the Guineas course and distance a few weeks ago, this son of Sharmadal has a potent turn of foot.

He was well backed for the Craven but was a surprise 33/1 winner on debut, so his yard probably didn’t see it coming and that’s all contributed to a somewhat cautious rhetoric from connections regarding his chances of Classic glory.

Trainer William Haggas thinks he’s too short at 8/1, but I’m not so sure, as there are plenty of big positives for his backers to latch onto such as course form, professionalism (he settles and quickens straight as an arrow when asked) and an unexposed profile.

He could be anything but is difficult to back with any confidence, and 8/1 might be closer to fair than long.

Advertise 8/1

Chased home Calyx and Too Darn Hot last season, earning himself a lofty 119 rating, so the form-book demands his place on any short-list.

I do have a hard time liking this horse, though, as his National Stakes victory was laboured and his pedigree suggests he might be more of a sprinter in time.

His entries concur as he’s not entered up for anything beyond a mile and is in the 6f Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, and I like a strong stayer in the Guineas.

He’s probably the right price.

The verdict

Of the O’Brien duo, I would side with Ten Sovereigns‘s speed and class over the proven stamina of Magna Grecia, but the value lies with MADHMOON as he gets ideal conditions and is a juicy price with the generous each-way terms on offer. If Ten Sovereigns is going to get beaten then he will be outstayed, and Chris Hayes’ mount won’t be found wanting in that department. He’s got a big chance of winning, while SkyBet offer five places at 7/1 and it really is difficult to imagine him finishing outside the places, so that’s the way to go.

1pt each-way Madhmoon @7/1, 15:35 Newmarket, Saturday (1,2,3,4,5, 1/5 with SkyBet)

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