What are the best bets for the 2000 Guineas?
Air Force Blue heads a field of 13 for Saturday’s 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday (due off 3.45pm) and if the betting is a decent guide, he’s already home and hosed.
Aidan O’Brien’s colt flew home in the Dewhurst Stakes last October to become the shortest-priced winter favourite for the Classic since Frankel and, with Godolphin’s Emotionless (his main market rival) now out of the equation, he is no bigger than 4/6 to give his trainer a remarkable eighth victory in the race. Tellingly, the last four winners to be trained at Ballydoyle were, like Air Force Blue, making their seasonal reappearance.
In truth, if the son of War Front stays the mile on his first attempt at that trip – his pedigree provides encouragement for that – he will win and win well. However, he’s hardly a bet at such skinny odds and, indeed, it could be worth finding one each-way against him as there seems to be a slight doubt about his stamina, with O’Brien saying of the colt only last weekend that he shows “a lot of pace in his work” and adding: “We won’t know about him getting the mile at Newmarket until he tries it.”
Hardly a ringing endorsement over his stamina and given the Rowley Mile is far from an easy one – the final furlong is surprisingly steep – I’d rather put my faith in the proven staying ability of Ed Walker’s STORMY ANTARCTIC, who landed the Craven Stakes over track and trip 16 days ago. A dual winner at two and runner-up in a French Group 1 on his final start, he has clearly thrived over the winter and there doesn’t appear to be any fluke about his win at HQ, where he had the highly regarded Foundation (the 4/6 favourite) three-and-a-half lengths away in third.
That horse’s trainer John Gosden was gracious in defeat saying his colt (who himself had Classic pretensions) was beaten fair and square. We should also dispel any thoughts that he won on account of the soft ground – on the contrary as his trainer believes he won despite it and will be even better on a decent surface (the forecast is for good ground) and with that run under his belt. He’s also bred to get distances beyond a mile – the 1m2f Prix du Jockey Club has been mentioned as a possible target – and a little extra stamina is no bad thing in this race.
No disrespect to Walker, who is in his first season at Upper Lambourn after five years in Newmarket, but his colt would surely be a couple of points shorter than his current 7/1 if he were housed in one of the bigger yards. He might even be a shade bigger on the morning of the race when the usual price war begins in earnest and we also have the option to back him in the ‘without Air Force Blue’ market, with Sky Bet currently offering 10/3.
That’s a tempting bet, but I’d rather play the outright market and I’m happy to take bet365’s 7/1 as they are offering one quarter the odds a place, whereas the 8/1 merchants are going a stingy fifth.
Of the rest, I’ve a healthy respect for Owen Burrows’ Massaat, who was firmly put in his place by Air Force Blue in the Dewhurst over 7f and has three and a bit lengths to make up on that form. However, the son of Teofilo was still pretty raw on that occasion, whereas the winner was more battle-hardened, and reports coming out of his Newmarket stable suggest he’s now more the finished article having wintered well. He too represents some each-way value at Betfair’s 12/1, but the selection has had a run and I’m sticking by him.
Stormy Antarctic each-way @ 7/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2.3)