Sunday 19 November 2017

Gleneagles has major potential

Moore's mount leads two strong Guineas hopes for Ballydoyle

Gleneagles, here winning at the Curragh last season, is fancied to score in today’s Newmarket 2,000 Guineas
Gleneagles, here winning at the Curragh last season, is fancied to score in today’s Newmarket 2,000 Guineas
Jezki produced a resounding display at Punchestown on Thursday for jockey Mark Walsh
Osaila emerged with credit when third at the Breeders’ Cup and won easier than the short-head margin suggests on her return in the Nell Gwyn
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Aidan O'Brien saddles both Gleneagles and Ol' Man River as he strives to bring the trophy for the 2,000 Guineas back to Ballydoyle for an 11th time in total.

Ger Lyons also has a cut at the £450,000 Qipco-sponsored Group One with Cappella Sansevero, whose Qatar Racing owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani also has Elm Park in the 19-strong field. Killarney native Oisin Murphy rides Lyons' Showcasing colt, which was just shy of the best juveniles last year.

When fourth over six furlongs on his eighth start in the Middle Park Stakes here at Newmarket in October, Cappella Sansevero looked in need of further. He gets that now, but he still has a gap to bridge.

Andrea Atzeni is on Elm Park, the only other Group One winner along with Gleneagles in the mile affair. Andrew Balding's charge apparently needs a drop of rain even to run, and he appeals as a more likely Derby or even St Leger type. A son of Phoenix Reach, he made most to win for a third time over a mile in what was a moderate edition of the Racing Post Trophy in the autumn. The third, Celestial Path, is also on duty here, which is of note mainly because he is Mark Prescott's first ever runner in the race. Richard Hannon's Ivawood and Kool Kompany are unlikely to be too far away, likewise Estidhkaar, which kept on again after getting passed by Muhaarar in the Greenham.

However, the two most exciting prospects in the first Classic of the season are trained in Rosegreen, Co Tipperary. Like each of the current Ballydoyle incumbent's first six winners of the race, Gleneagles and Ol' Man River are coming here without a run as three-year-olds.

Instinctively, you might think that Gleneagles' busy six-race season last year would suggest that he might not have too much scope to progress at three, but Rock Of Gibraltar ran seven times as a juvenile, George Washington and King Of Kings five times and Henrythenavigator four times. Being battle-hardened is a plus here. Beaten on his Curragh bow, the son of Galileo then passed the post in front five times, latterly in the National Stakes at headquarters and in the Prix Jean Luc Lagardere.

He was disqualified for causing interference in the seven-furlong Longchamp feature, but he was clearly best horse in the race. Andre Fabre's re-opposing Territories paid him a tidy compliment back at Longchamp last month. A full-brother to the Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Marvellous, Gleneagles is a cracking prospect, and the market tells us that he and the peerless Ryan Moore are the elite stable's main hope. At odds of 3/1, he is fairly priced and fancied to collect.

That all said, don't be surprised if Ol' Man River puts it up to him. The Montjeu colt is out of the dual Guineas heroine Finsceal Beo and he looked sharp in the Beresford Stakes in September. If Joseph O'Brien can do the allotted 9st, Ol' Man River could be a real threat.

Watching Brief

Jezki was something of a surprise package at Punchestown on Thursday.

He has always been an impressive physical specimen, and the manner in which he dismissed Hurricane Fly at Punchestown in 2014 hinted that he could be a real force at two miles going forward.

Hurricane Fly proved to be a revelation in the winter, but Jezki was also disappointing. He was running much better over two-and-a-half at Aintree when aided by a slice of luck en route to victory, and then he produced Thursday's resounding display over three for jockey Mark Walsh (above).

His pedigree suggested that longer trips might suit and they have, on top of the fact that he goes best in the spring. The only reason that Jezki got keen on Thursday was because those in front slowed down. He won with a degree of authority regardless, leaving the impression that he could now stamp his authority all over a division that is wide open.

Dark Horse

Osaila is potentially underestimated in tomorrow's Qipco 1,000 Guineas.

It is an open edition of the fillies' Classic at Newmarket, and Lucida and Qualify are contenders from Ireland. Still, the Richard Hannon-trained Osaila is around 9/1 and she could out-run those odds.

She won three times at two and wasn't beaten far in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, splitting Lucida and Qualify. She emerged with credit when third at the Breeders' Cup and won easier than the short-head margin suggests on her return in the Nell Gwyn. Expect her to run well again under the rejuvenated Frankie Dettori.

Lay Of The Day

Richard Johnson will be all out to keep his momentum going early on in the season but Flemensbay is far too short at odds of around 5/2 for division one of the three-mile handicap hurdle at Uttoxeter.

Despite having a decent pedigree, she fell in at odds of 33/1 at Chepstow last time, having shown practically nothing in six previous starts. She is eight pounds higher now and is readily taken on.

A Little Each Way

Three-year-olds' handicaps this early in the year aren't easy to call, but that can also mean that there is value to be found at times.

Richard Fahey's Sarista has place appeal at double-figure odds in the six-furlong edition at Newmarket today. Second and first in her first two starts as a juvenile, she is a pacey sort that was last seen running a blinder to be fourth in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot. A mark of 88 gives her an each-way chance.

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