Monday 27 March 2017

Gleneagles hints at mile domination in easy win

No concern about the supremacy of the 2,000 Guineas

Tracking the blistering pace, Gleneagles was always in his comfort zone and as soon as Ryan Moore asked for an effort, the race was over in a few strides
Tracking the blistering pace, Gleneagles was always in his comfort zone and as soon as Ryan Moore asked for an effort, the race was over in a few strides

Ian McClean

The first British Classic seems to have just popped up by stealth this year. Perhaps it was owing to the particularly elasticated nature of this year's jumps spring Festivals. Or potentially the protracted retirement fanfare of AP McCoy these last weeks.

Maybe it was simply the absence of a box office name to sell the sizzle of the race. After all history tells us the Guineas tends towards one of the world's great mile races. Some, bemoaning this year's quality, invoked the heroes of yesteryear. Others pointed to the vanquished in last year's renewal - which included Kingman, Australia, Kingston Hill, The Grey Gatsby and Charmed Spirit - and wondered where the talent had disappeared to this time around.

At about ten to four yesterday they had their answer - Gleneagles.

In hindsight it was obvious. Undefeated in five races following his racecourse introduction, the Aidan O'Brien colt was first past the post in the best juvenile race in Ireland and the best juvenile race in France last year.

O'Brien had won six previous editions of the race and was aiming for a record-equalling seventh. All previous winners won on seasonal debut. Trained by one of the best trainers in the world, ridden by one of the best jockeys in the world, bred in the purple and drawn to perfection. It should have been obvious but the market (for whatever reason, although Raceday Live described his late paddock arrival as "in a muck sweat") spoke against the chances of the son of Galileo, which drifted to a high of 5/1 before the off.

Those concerned for the supremacy of the race could quickly relax as the three top-rated horses filled the first three places in a field of 18 - and the winner Gleneagles has confirmed that not only has he trained on, but he's already laid down a significant early marker for European champion miler.

Tracking the blistering pace, Gleneagles was always in his comfort zone and as soon as Ryan Moore asked for an effort, the race was over in a few strides. He is highly unlikely to contest the Derby (he wasn't even quoted by Ladbrokes) and Moore's comments afterwards suggested he sees him as a quintessential miler and, as such, will probably follow the more conventional St James's Palace route from here.

O'Brien said: "He was always a good traveller. When he gets there he doesn't do much, but that was him last year as well. His form was top class and he only does what he has to do. We always thought he would be a miler."

However, most interesting amongst Moore's ruminations was how he referred to the colt as "a proper horse" that is "sure to move forward for today".

Deciphering the tea-leaves, it all suggests that much greater is expected of Giant's Causeway's grandson from this point and that the weakness in the market was a question of readiness rather than talent. The 'Iron Horse' himself (Giant's Causeway) could only manage second in his Guineas but did nothing but improve and improve from there.

Gleneagles provides another significant landmark for Coolmore, advertising once more the prowess of the world's leading stallion Galileo and if the subtext of O'Brien's role is to prepare the next generation of stallions for his employer, then yesterday was very much a tick in the 'Yes' box.

Amazingly, in contrast to O'Brien's now magnificent seven Newmarket Guineas, Moore was enjoying his first ever win in the race.

The victory was a perfect way to cement the relationship that considers Moore officially first-choice jockey at Ballydoyle. Paradoxically O'Brien's other runner, Ol' Man River, partnered by son Joseph and only two points longer than the winner in the betting market, was virtually pulled up at the back of the field.

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