Our tipster is going value hunting in the search for the winner of the season's opening Classic.
The first Classic of the new flat season is quickly upon us and Saturday’s renewal of the 2000 Guineas has a familiar look to it with an Aidan O’Brien-trained inmate heading the market,
O’Brien has been represented in every 2000 Guineas since King Of Kings gave him a dream start in 1998 and he’s won it a further five times, most recently with Camelot in 2012. That said, he’s also saddled six beaten favourites and is usually mob-handed with at least a couple of runners flying the flag for Ballydoyle. Tellingly, though, in the last nine renewals in which he has saddled multiple entries his shortest-priced runner has finished ahead of their stablemates.
That’s a clear pointer to his Gleneagles, the current favourite at around the 11/4 mark, and a negative for his other representative Ol’ Man River, who is surely going to be better over middle distances anyway. As a son of Galileo, Gleneagles should also get further in time but, judging by a juvenile campaign which saw him finish first past the post five times from six starts (he was demoted to third in the Lagardere at Longchamp in October), he is also blessed with plenty of zip.
Ladbrokes, who have traditionally had a good line to the stable runners, go just 9/4 and if he’s as good as they think he is at home even that price could look big come the off. However, I still can’t get myself to back him given that plenty of his rivals have similar profiles and possess the potential to be far better than they’ve shown so far. They are all much bigger prices too.
So, while I concede that Gleneagles is a perfectly plausible winner, I’m going value-hunting and CELESTIAL PATH fits the bill. His trainer Sir Mark Prescott isn’t known for having runners at around Guineas time, let alone the winner of the first Classic, but he doesn’t tilt at windmills either and the son of Footstepsinthesand, himself a Guineas winner, looks a top-class miler in the making. After winning his first two starts at two in impressive style, he found the ground far too soft when third to Elm Park in the Racing Post Trophy on his final start and that won’t be a problem at Newmarket if the forecast is correct. In addition to his sire, many of his close relatives have top class form at a mile and he looks to have inherited plenty of their talent. At 25/1, he’s well worth an each-way interest with four places up for grabs at bet365.
The Andre Fabre-trained Territories, who has been supplemented into the race after winning a Group 3 at Longchamp on his reappearance, also makes some appeal. He was the unlucky horse in the Lagardere last autumn having gone for a gap up the inside rail only to get squeezed for room as Gleneagles edged right, and his pedigree is littered with top class performers at this distance – he’s by Invincible Spirit who supplied Kingman, just touched off in last year’s Guineas. But any value looks to have been squeezed out of his price, with just 6/1 on offer.
Of the rest, Estidhkaar looks the best of the Richard Hannon-trained pair following his comeback second in the Greenham, where he had stablemate Ivawood four and a half lengths behind in third. Intalaaq is another who has been supplemented after following a Newbury maiden victory on his return and he should come on a lot for that run. He looks more of a stayer, though, and contrary to opinion it is speed and not stamina that tends to win races at Newmarket, which is where the selection scores more highly.
Celestial Path each-way @ 25/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 126.96.36.199)