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Churchill among 11 O’Brien entries in QIPCO 2000 Guineas

8 Mar 2017

Several sons of Frankel could stand in way of champion juvenile.

Churchill 2000 Guineas

Could Churchill give Aidan O’Brien an eighth winner in the 2000 Guineas? Pic:racingfotos.com

Churchill heads 69 entries revealed today for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 6.

The champion two-year-old of last year, who signed off last season by winning the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October, is one of 11 Aidan O’Brien-trained colts entered in the eagerly awaited first race in this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series.

Champion trainer O’Brien is seeking a record-breaking eighth triumph in the first Classic of the season, which carries prize-money of £500,000.

The success of Gleneagles in 2015 provided the master of Ballydoyle with his seventh 2000 Guineas success and drew him level with John Scott, who achieved the same number of victories in the mile showpiece between 1842 and 1862.

All of O’Brien’s previous winners – King Of Kings (1998), Rock Of Gibraltar (2002), Footstepsinthesand (2005), George Washington (2006), Henrythenavigator (2008), Camelot (2012) and Gleneagles – had been making their seasonal reappearances and it seems likely that Churchill will also miss the traditional trials this spring and head straight to Headquarters.

Standing in his way could be several sons of the mighty Frankel, who famously won all nine QIPCO British Champions Series races he contested in 2011 and 2012.

Eminent, Frankuus, Seven Heavens and Swiss Storm are among his offspring who could figure, although you will get long odds against any making all and obliging by six lengths – as Frankel did in the race six years ago.

Hugo Palmer, who won last year’s running with Galileo Gold, has five possibles this time in Best Of Days, Escobar, Gulliver, Omeros and Via Serendipity. Best Of Days is one of 16 entries who Godolphin have  to shuffle.

National Defense heads four French possibles. Runaway winner of the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere last October, his trainer, Criquette Head-Maarek, has an outstanding Guineas record of four wins from just 12 runners, albeit all of her victories have come in the 1000 Guineas.

Head-Maarek said: “National Defense has done extremely well over the winter and worked on the grass for the first time [this year] yesterday (Tuesday). The going was terribly soft but that didn’t seem to be an issue for him and he went nicely.

“He looks really good at the moment – he has put on a lot of weight and has a shiny coat – but he does need some sun.

“I plan to run him in the Prix Djebel over the straight seven furlongs at Maisons-Laffitte on 10th April by which time I hope to have him at about 90 per cent, leaving a little to work on. After that we will decide between the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and the Poule d’Essai des Poulains.”

She added: “Because of sickness last year was a disaster for a lot of trainers and my string was hit really hard, so National Defense made my season by winning a Group 1. But he was affected [by the virus] earlier in the year, just like all the others.

“He is a galloper who does not like to be restrained, otherwise he won’t breath properly, though I would love to see him settle better in behind. I hope Pierre-Charles Boudot will be available to ride him as he knows him very well and has learned that he is not a horse that you can fight.”

The 69 entries for the Group 1 QIPCO 2000 Guineas on Saturday, 6th May, are:
Ahlan Bil Zain (FR), Al Wukair (IRE), Ambassadorial (USA), Apex King (IRE), Barney Roy (GB), Best of Days (GB), Big Challenge (IRE), Bin Battuta (GB), Bless Him (IRE), Boynton (USA), Brittanic (IRE), Cape Byron (GB), Caravaggio (USA), Chessman (IRE), Churchill (IRE), Contrapposto (IRE), Cracksman (GB), Dream Castle (GB), Dreamfield (GB), Dubai Sand (IRE), Eminent (IRE), Emmaus (IRE), Escobar (IRE), Frankuus (IRE), Gulliver (GB), Gustavo Fring (IRE), Harry Angel (IRE), Inca Gold (IRE), Intelligence Cross (USA), Lahore (USA), Lancaster Bomber (USA), Larchmont Lad (IRE), Law And Order (IRE), Leshlaa (USA), Lockheed (GB), Lucky Mistake (IRE), Majeste (GB), Make Time (IRE), Medahim (IRE), Mokarris (USA), National Defense (GB), Omeros (GB), Peace Envoy (FR), Pedestal (IRE), Rivet (IRE), Rodaini (USA), Salsabeel (IRE), Seven Heavens (GB), Sir Dancealot (IRE), Solomon’s Bay (IRE), Son of The Stars (GB), South Seas (IRE), Spirit of Valor (USA), Spotify (FR), Swiss Storm (GB), Syphax (USA), The Grape Escape (IRE), Thunder Snow (IRE), Time Zone (GB), Top Score (GB), Utmost (USA), Venezuela (IRE), Via Egnatia (USA), Via Serendipity (GB), Volatile (GB), War Decree (USA), War Secretary (USA), Zainhom (USA), Zorion (GB).