Saturday brings us the first Classic of 2021 with the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, and this year’s renewal is a wide-open-looking contest. Aidan O’Brien has dominated the race in recent seasons – winning it 10 times – including in 2018 with Saxon Warrior and Magna Grecia in 2019. As the big race approaches, O’Brien still has five horses entered – we’ve taken a closer look at each of them below and highlighted their chances of Guineas success as they look to add their names to the best 2000 Guineas winners ever.
2000 Guineas 2021: 5 Aidan O’Brien runners
Wembley will be looking to add his name alongside Churchill, Gleneagles, and Frankel as a Galileo-sired 2000 Guineas winner and he looks a fair chance in a wide-open race.
The quick ground at Newmarket should play to his strengths and he’ll be looking to build on 2nd place finishes in the National Stakes at the Curragh behind Thunder Moon, and in the Dewhurst behind St Mark’s Basilica.
With Ryan Moore on board in the Dewhurst, he was the apparent stable first-choice and just failed to reel in stablemate St Mark’s Basilica ridden by Frankie Dettori. It was hard not to be impressed with that run, he found traffic problems but ran on strongly indicating that the Guineas trip will be perfect.
A son of Galileo on quick ground over 1 mile – what’s not to like!
St Mark’s Basilica
The son of Siyouni ended the 2020 season in great style, landing the Group 1 Dewhurst at Newmarket from stable companion Wembley.
It’s a shock that he’s not shorter than 8/1 in the betting at the time of writing for the 2021 version of the 2000 Guinease but, having never raced on ground this quick yet, it’s a concern.
He’s the top-rated horse in the race with a BHA rating of 120 and the step up to a mile should see more improvement. With one of the best pieces of form in the race, it’s a surprise he’s so weak in the market – it will be interesting to see if he takes his chance on Saturday and, if so, what price he goes off at.
Last year was a summer to remember for Battleground – taking victory in the Chesham at Royal Ascot before an excellent performance in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. His Ascot success was on soft going while his Goodwood victory was on good – showing his versatility ground-wise.
He then headed Stateside in November to the Breeders Cup at Keeneland where he ran 2nd in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf behind Fire At Will. As is the norm in the US, they set ferocious fractions, and Battleground wasn’t seen at his best trying to pick them up from well off the pace.
Conditions will suit far better at Newmarket and it would be no shock at all to see him have improved as a three-year-old as he tries to land a first 2000 Guineas for his sire War Front, in the 2021 race.
He saved the best until last in 2020, putting in an excellent performance in the Group 1 Criterium at Saint-Cloud following on from 2nd in the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket.
His Saint-Cloud victory was on heavy going but he put in solid enough efforts on good ground over the summer last year to show he’s adaptable to differing ground.
The progression at the tail end of last season indicates that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with as a three-year-old but he holds a Derby entry highlighting that middle-distances are a more likely target.
It would be a shock if he was to have the tactical speed to land the 2021 edition of the 2000 Guineas this weekend.
Military Style took home the Group 3 Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown in August – just holding on from stablemate Van Gogh – before flopping as he tried to make all in the National Stakes at the Curragh.
He was allowed to dominate the field in the Tyros Stakes and was assisted by the way the race unfolded – if he is allowed a soft lead at Newmarket, he could be a danger. That scenario is unlikely though and, on form and ratings, he’s one of the less fancied O’Brien runners.
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