Friday 27 April 2018

Al Zir primed to rediscover top form and deny Abbey

JA McGrath

FORM judges will be on champion alert for today's 2,000 Guineas. In one of the strongest fields in recent years, the focus of attention is red-hot favourite St Nicholas Abbey who has been the subject of highly encouraging reports.

Last year, Sea The Stars won the Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the Eclipse, yet it took until August before the media attention intensified.

The 'experts' are not going to be caught out this time, however, and if St Nicholas Abbey gallops away with today's Classic, he will be crowned a champion on the spot.

This poses the question: can St Nicholas Abbey rely on his superior class to carry him to victory? He'll be primed for the race, but Johnny Murtagh has not been on his back since the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last October, and there's a long season ahead.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien will be leaving it to the racecourse for answers to the most demanding questions. The two colts St Nicholas Abbey defeated at Doncaster, Elusive Pimpernel and Al Zir, should be tough opponents.

I prefer Al Zir, particularly at 12/1. He is a most impressive individual, who may have been just gone off the boil when third to the favourite in the Racing Post Trophy. Frankie Dettori will find himself in the heart of the action from stall 10.

Tomorrow, in the 1,000 Guineas, favourite Special Duty may be tested by the one-mile distance, but one who will have no fears is the Marcus Tregoning-trained Rumoush who is my selection to defeat Music Show and Pollenator.

NEWMARKET SELECTIONS: 1.55 Brunston; 2.25 Jukebox Jury; 3.05 Al Zir; 3.40 Amour Propre; 4.15 Monsieur Joe (nap); 4.50 Wigmore Hall; 5.25 Balducci.

Irish Independent

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