Gold, Tregoning, Fallon, Grimthorpe Talk About Their Guineas Hopes
Connections of several leading contenders for both the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas and the StanJames.com 1000 Guineas were present at a media event held at Lord’s cricket ground in London yesterday, which was organised by Newmarket Racecourses.
There are 22 acceptors at today’s five-day confirmation stage for the £400,000 StanJames.com 2000 Guineas, run over the Rowley Mile on Saturday, May 1, with Stan James’ 13/8 favourite being the unbeaten St Nicholas Abbey from the Aidan O’Brien stable. The Montjeu colt ended his 2009 campaign with a comprehensive defeat of Elusive Pimpernel in the Group One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. O’Brien could also be represented by Group One Jumeirah Dewhurst Stakes runner-up Fencing Master and Viscount Nelson as he bids for a sixth success in the Classic. Elusive Pimpernel franked the Racing Post Trophy form when taking the Group Three Racing Post breezeupbonus.com Craven Stakes at Newmarket impressively on April 15.
Another unbeaten horse going in to Saturday’s race is Awzaan, trained by Mark Johnston who was successful in the contest with Mister Baileys 16 years ago. Awzaan won all four of his starts in 2009, culminating with a gutsy victory in the Group One Shadwell Middle Park Stakes on the Rowley Mile on October 2.
Angus Gold, Racing Manager to Awzaan’s owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, revealed today: "Awzaan has never run beyond six furlongs but both Mark Johnston and Richard Hills feel that a mile is well within his capabilities. We kept him at six furlongs last season because he had the speed for that distance - he quickened so well in the Shadwell Middle Park Stakes.
"He hasn't had a run this year. Mark felt that, by giving him four races last season, the horse had gained plenty of experience and didn't need a run. Richard has been up to Middleham once and the horse came down to Newmarket to have a racecourse gallop.
"That was all fine-tuning and Awzaan is now back to his racing weight. He is small but that is the way he was made and if he is good enough, he is big enough. Richard will plan to switch him off in the race and he will hopefully come with a good run and win.
"This horse has done nothing wrong. He fooled me all the way last season and proved that he is a top-class horse.”
Stan James , who are offering NON-RUNNER NO BET on both the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas and the StanJames.com 1000 Guineas, make Special Duty the 7/2 market leader for the fillies’ Classic, which is run on Sunday, May 2 and has 23 five-day acceptors.
Special Duty has already tasted success at Newmarket, having stormed to an impressive defeat of Misheer in the Group One Electrolux Cheveley Park Stakes in October. She finished third on her seasonal reappearance at Maisons-Laffitte on April 8 but her trainer Criquette Head-Maarek is no stranger to 1000 Guineas success, having saddled Ma Biche (1983), Ravinella (1988) and Hatoof (1992) to victory.
Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager to Special Duty’s owner Khalid Abdulla, said today: “We are very happy with Special Duty at the moment. She did a very good piece of work at Chantilly last Tuesday with three lead horses when she finished well on the bridle.
“We are hopeful that she will get a mile and, while the Prix Imprudence wasn’t the result we were expecting, in hindsight it had been a very cold winter, which certainly played its part. She obviously needed the race and was racing against horses who were much fitter. There was also the question of the sticky ground there.
“I don’t like to make excuses but she was a very good filly last year and she was a bit unlucky not to go through the season unbeaten. Her trainer has a tremendous record in the race and we hope that her magic will work again.”
Kieren Fallon is the most successful jockey in the StanJames.com 1000 Guineas having recorded a quartet of triumphs, most recently on Virginia Waters in 2005. Earlier this month he took the Group Three Leslie Harrison Memorial Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket aboard the Mick Channon-trained Music Show, but has opted to ride the Luca Cumani-trained Seta, who won a maiden on the July Course in 2009 before finishing third to Pollenator in the Group Two May Hill Stakes at Doncaster in September.
Explaining his choice, Fallon commented: “I had to make a tough decision last week on which filly to ride and I hope that I have got it right.
“I rode Seta early on last year and she was very impressive in her work - she really gave me the feel of a filly that could win the StanJames.com 1000 Guineas. She proved that she was good when winning her maiden but she disappointed when she was beaten at Doncaster - I thought that it was only a question of going down and coming back.
“Seta did a piece of work on the racecourse with two older horses and I was very impressed with her. The big worry is the ground - she needs good ground or a bit of ease.
“Her racecourse gallop was early in the morning, after they had watered the course, and she enjoyed making a print in the ground. She is a big filly and I hope that it rains between now and Sunday.
“I think that the StanJames.com 1000 Guineas is a wide-open race. Music Show impressed in her trial and will improve for that run - it wasn’t easy to choose between the two fillies.”
No current owner can match the record of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum in the StanJames.com 1000 Guineas, with his famous blue and white silks having been carried to victory on six previous occasions, most recently Ghanaati in 2009. He has two possible runners this year in the shape of Habaayib, trained by Ed Dunlop and a Group Three winner at Royal Ascot in 2009 and the Marcus Tregoning-trained Rumoush, who comfortably landed the nine-furlong Listed Blue Square Feilden Stakes at Newmarket on April 14.
Angus Gold commented: “We have left Habaayib in today and we will see how she gets on during the week. We will look at what other races there are for her as well as assessing the StanJames.com 1000 Guineas. We won’t run her just for the sake of it and it is up to Ed to tell us whether he thinks she has a good chance.
“She lost her way a bit at the end of last season but she is going well now and we are hoping that she stays a mile - she looks like a good second string.
“Rumoush came back and won well over a mile and a furlong this season and we were originally feeling that she was more an Oaks filly. She will certainly get a mile and a quarter and hopefully a mile and a half.
“Sheikh Hamdan looked at the tapes again and felt that she might have more speed than we thought, being a half-sister to last year’s StanJames.com 1000 Guineas winner Ghanaati and with there being a doubt about her staying a mile and a half.
“Therefore we have decided to run her on Sunday and we hope that she might have the speed for the mile. We were pleased rather than surprised when she won the Feilden Stakes like she did on only her second start and she is the type of filly who will improve as the year goes on.”
Marcus Tregoning added: “You would have to be very pleased with Rumoush’s performance in the Feilden Stakes. She is mentally sharper now and is physically fine.
“The 1000 Guineas is a great trial for the Oaks. We were initially thinking about going for another Oaks trial ahead of Epsom but we can’t guarantee that will stay a mile and a half, although personally I think that she will.
“It’s the first Classic of the year and she deserves to take her chance. It is very exciting to have a good chance in the race and she can run very well.”
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