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Andre Fabre confident of bold show from Al Wukair in 2000 Guineas

1 May 2017

French raider among a dozen declared for the first race in this year's QIPCO British Champions Series

Churchill winnign the Dubai Dewhust Stakes at Newmarket. Now officially the champion two-year-old.

Churchill is one of three Aidan O’Brien entries left in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Churchill heads a dozen entries left in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday, while 18 remain in contention for the QIPCO 1000 Guineas the following day.

The 2000 Guineas is the first contest in the 35-race QIPCO British Champions Series and promises to be a thriller with Churchill, last year’s champion two-year-old, set to cross swords with the the unbeaten trio of Al Wukair, Barney Roy and Eminent.

Andre Fabre, who has landed the 2000 Guineas on two previous occasions, with Zafonic in 1993 and Pennekamp in 1995, said on Monday: “Al Wukair did his final piece of work before the QIPCO 2000 Guineas this morning and I was happy with everything.

“I am quite confident that he will be in the first three on Saturday but I am a bit concerned that he was not a Group 1 winner as a two-year-old, something that most Guineas winners have already achieved, including both of mine [Zafonic and Pennekamp].

“I gave Al Wukair quite a light two-year-old campaign on purpose as my horses had a little problem with a virus last season, so I did not want to force them.

“The ground is not a worry for him as he has won on soft and it was on the fast side for the Djebel. He seems well balanced so neither is [the undulating] course a major concern – I never have any complaints about Newmarket, which in my opinion is the best racecourse in the world.”

Rivet, winner of the Group One Racing Post Trophy last season, also remains a possible for the £500,000 mile showpiece while Aidan O’Brien, the trainer of Churchill, who is seeking a record-breaking eighth success, could also be represented by Lancaster Bomber and Peace Envoy, although the latter seems an unlikely starter after being beaten on his return at Naas on Monday.

Godolphin have two possibles in Dream Castle and Top Score, with Larchmont Lad, Law And Order and Spirit Of Valor also still engaged.

The final field will be revealed on Thursday morning.

Churchill is a best-priced 15-8 favourite with 32Red, with Barney Roy a general 7-2 with most firms. Al Wukair is 9-2, with Eminent, a son of Frankel, available at 11-2.

Rhododendron, trained by O’Brien, heads the 18 fillies who remain engaged in the 1000 Guineas, which is also run over a mile at Newmarket and worth £500,000.

Last year’s emphatic Fillies’ Mile winner, a best-priced 5-2, could be joined in the line-up by stablemates Hydrangea, Roly Poly, Rain Goddess and Winter.

O’Brien saddled the first three home in the 1000 Guineas 12 months ago, with Series star Minding taking the spoils en route to also landing the Investec Oaks, Qatar Nassau Stakes and QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth Stakes.