Monday 19 March 2018

Frankel to face a dozen Guineas rivals

A dozen colts dared to stand their ground against Frankel when the final declarations for the season's first Classic were made yesterday, but perhaps none of them will match the significance of one who did not.

In electing to rely solely on Roderic O'Connor -- which will be ridden for the first time by Ryan Moore -- in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket tomorrow, Aidan O'Brien finally committed to running Master Of Hounds in the Kentucky Derby seven days later. He will be Ballydoyle's first runner in the race since Johannesburg and Castle Gandolfo ran down the field in 2002.

The other leading Guineas protagonists have stood their ground, including the only other Irish challenger, Jessica Harrington's Pathfork. Having moved from Michael Halford's yard, Casamento will make his Godolphin debut, ridden by Frankie Dettori.

The draw could not have worked out less conveniently for Waterford jockey Tom Queally, who could find Frankel harder to settle if seeing too much daylight from stall one. Rerouted, which runs in the same ownership and is expected to guarantee the pace, is all the way over in 13 and can scarcely offer Frankel cover from there.

Elsewhere, having notched a double at Perth on Wednesday, Gordon Elliott went one better at the Scottish venue yesterday by landing a 167/2 treble courtesy of wins for Sounds Of Thunder, Western Bound and Martin Scruff.

The first-named (11/4) took the opening Intermediate Hurdle as Jason Maguire sent him into the lead at the second-last, and the partnership stretched that lead to 11 lengths from Rumble Of Thunder at the line.

Elliott and Maguire made a brisk return to the winner's enclosure when Western Bound (8/1) captured the intermediate handicap hurdle. The 10-year-old -- previously a maiden from 14 tries over hurdles and in bumpers -- beat Vallani by four and a half lengths.

Elliott and Maguire later put the gloss on another vintage afternoon when Martin Scruff (6/4 favourite) led home stablemate Hearthstead Dream in the concluding handicap hurdle.

Meanwhile, Kauto Star has been confirmed as an intended runner in the Grade One Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup on Wednesday. The dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, which finished third behind Long Run in the Festival showpiece on his most recent start, will be bidding for a 15th career Grade One success.

Colin Tizzard is also intending to send Third Intention to Punchestown to contest the Grade One AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle tomorrow week after a comprehensive win at Cheltenham earlier this month.

Irish Independent

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