The final day of April saw the first Classic of the British Flat season get underway with the 2,000 Guineas coming from Newmarket. As always, this race was a superb watch and saw some of the most exciting horses in training compete.
All the hype before the race was about the odds-on favourite Air Force Blue, who I’ll admit I was seriously excited about this campaign.
Air Force Blue, trained by the excellent Aidan O’Brien, had put in a stunning performance in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes over seven furlongs at Newmarket towards the end of the 2015 season and looks as though his short price was fully justified.
However, after the first couple of furlongs in the 2,000 Guineans you could see that Ryan Moore wasn’t happy with the horse. He never travelled and didn’t look like the same horse as when bolting up in October.
Moore reported after the race that Air Force Blue just didn’t feel the same and O’Brien was concerned he had perhaps overstrained the colt.
Whatever it might have been, this was a seriously disappointing run from Air Force Blue and I would be very wary about backing him for a race next time out.
To me, it looked like a case of a horse who hadn’t trained on from two to three and where they go next with him will be interesting.
Let’s not just focus on the disappointing favourite though and give the excellent winner Galileo Gold some credit as he won comfortably under the steering of Frankie Dettori.
Dettori had a wide draw to content with, but was always prominent on the Al Shaqab-owned three-year-old and took the race by a length and a half. The horse was eased down in the closing stages, too.
Galileo Gold seems to be a really versatile and likeable colt as he has won on ground varying from good to firm to good to soft and has been trained superbly by Hugo Palmer, who was tasting Classic success for the first time.
Palmer is a trainer really going places and it wouldn’t surprise me if he won another Classic this season, especially with this horse in either the Irish 2,000 Guineas or perhaps the Derby.
Galileo Gold seemed to have improved over the winter and you don’t win a 2,000 Guineas in that style unless you’re a bit of a superstar. He’ll have a big season.
Owen Burrows has only started training this year as he has taken over from Barry Hills and would have been delighted that Massaat managed to finish in second.
He was well beaten by Air Force Blue at Newmarket last season, but has improved over the winter and seemed to relish the step up in trip. He could be a big Derby contender and should have more to show us.
There were also huge runs from Ribchester, Air Vice Marshal and Kentuckyconnection.
Marcel didn’t manage to beat a rival and looks like a horse who maybe needs more cut in the ground.
Much like Air Force Blue though, I’d need this horse to be showing me more next time out to prove he retains his ability.
The horses I’d be taking out of this race are certainly the front two, and also Buratino, who I think will now drop back down to sprint distances and could be a big player in something like the Commonwealth Cup. He needs a shorter trip and quick ground to be seen at his best.
It was the Fillies who took centre stage on the Sunday as the 1,000 Guineas took