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Guide to the leading contenders in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas

29 Apr 2019

Who will wins the first race in this year's QIPCO British Champions Series on Saturday? We look at the main challengers.

Skardu is unbeaten heading into the QIPCO 2000 Guineas. Picture: Racingfotos.com

A total of 24 contenders remain in the mix for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturdayezyfqextxsrfywyqxxfuvrazt – the first race in this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series – and here’s our guide to the main contenders.

MAGNA GRECIA

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Best odds: 7-2

Made big strides in the autumn, landing the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes in determined style at Doncaster on his final start – a race Camelot (2011) and Saxon warrior (2017) scooped en route to Guineas glory for O’Brien. Magna Grecia had previously been edged out by Persian King in the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, proving his effectiveness on the Rowley Mile.

TEN SOVEREIGNS

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Best odds: 11-2

Unbeaten in three starts and the highest-rated runner still in contention. Showed his effectiveness on the Rowley Mile when landing the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes in the autumn. Unproven beyond 6f and his pedigree is something of a mix but he has to be a big player if he can be as effective over a mile. Like the trainer’s previous nine winners of the race, he and Magna Grecia will be making their seasonal reappearances.

MADHMOON

Trainer: Kevin Prendergast. Best odds: 15-2.

Created quite an impact in winning his two races last season, especially when beating Broome in Group 2 company on his final start. That form has been franked and he can be forgiven his reappearance defeat at the hands of a race fit rival over an inadequate 7f on soft ground when carrying a penalty. Would be quite something if he could hit the jackpot for his octogenarian trainer.

SKARDU

Trainer: William Haggas. Best odds: 15-2.

Sprung a surprise when winning at 33/1 on his only start at Newmarket last season but proved that was no fluke when, well backed, he pounced from off the pace to land the Craven on his return. Will need to take his game to the next level if to preserve his unbeaten record but he’s an exciting individual capable of better yet on and Newmarket clearly holds no fears for him.

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Trainer: Martyn Meade (0 wins in the Champions Series).  Best odds: 9-1.

Chased home Calyx in the Coventry and Too Darn Hot in the Dewhurst – in between he landing the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. No reason to suspect he will continue to make his presence felt in the top races, for all that he has to prove his stamina over a mile. Had a workout at Newmarket this month and Frankie Dettori booked to ride.

ROYAL MARINE

Trainer: Saeed Bin Suroor. Best odds: 9-1.

Won the Group 1 Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp on his third and final start of last year. Went off a strong favourite for the Craven Stakes at Newmarket but he was not seen to best advantage and could finish only fourth behind Skardu. Capable of better and likely to be equipped with a hood.

Al HILALEE

Trainer: Charlie Appleby. Bets odds: 16-1.

The Charlie Appleby-trained colt was on Monday supplemented by Godolphin at a cost of £30,000. The son of Dubawi is an intriguing new challenger, having won both his starts as a juvenile and representing such powerful connections. He won on his debut at Newmarket in August, on the July course, and then followed up in a Listed contest at Deuaville. Clearly, he has been pleasing connections in his homework this spring.

SET PIECE

Trainer: Hugo Palmer. Best odds: 16-1.

Won novice contests over a mile at Kempton and Newcastle during the winter. Upped in class for his debut on turf in the Craven Stakes and ran a fine race to finish third to Skardu, beaten a couple of lengths. Entitled to progress further and will attempt to give owner Prince Khalid Abdullah his first win in the race since  Frankel scorched home in 2011.

THE REST:

All the remaining entries are 25/1 or bigger in the ante-post betting but that does not mean they should be ignored. Makfi won at 33/1 in 2010, while Night Of Thunder obliged at 40/1 five years ago. The latter scooped the spoils after being beaten in the Greenham at Newbury, something Great Scot and Urban Icon (both 25/1) will be aiming to achieve after finishing second and third, respectively, in that trial. Momkin (33/1) is a big price considering he looked a little unlucky when splitting Skardu and Set Piece in the Craven. Feilden winner Kick On (33-1) needs to show he can be as effective dropped back in distance. Conversely, front-running Shine So Bright (40-1) won the Free Handicap and must prove himself over a mile.