Sunday 19 November 2017

St Nicholas Abbey leads O'Brien's Guineas challenge

RED-HOT favourite St Nicholas Abbey heads a field of 19 runners declared for tomorrow's 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

The Montjeu colt was unbeaten in three starts as a juvenile, culminating in a clear-cut success over Elusive Pimpernel in the Racing Post Trophy last autumn, and is one of three contenders from Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle base, with Fencing Master and Viscount Nelson also taking their chance.

John Dunlop's Elusive Pimpernel reopposes following his Craven Stakes success, while Richard Hannon sends Canford Cliffs and Dick Turpin. Godolphin field two runners, with Al Zir hailing from Saeed bin Suroor's yard and Buzzword a first Classic runner for second trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni.

Mark Johnston is also double-handed as Middle Park Stakes winner Awzaan and multiple all-weather scorer Greyfriarschorista bid to supplement Mister Baileys' victory for the handler back in 1994.

Xtension, third in the Dewhurst last year, represents Clive Cox, while Pat Eddery will be hoping Hearts Of Fire can bag him his first Classic as a trainer. The line-up is completed by John Best's pair of Inler and Elspeth's Boy, Audacity Of Hope, Fair Trade, Lord Zenith, Red Jazz and sole French raider Makfi.

There has not been a French-trained winner since Pennekamp in 1995, but Mikel Delzangles is hoping Makfi can right that statistic. The son of Dubawi is unbeaten in two starts and made a winning seasonal return in the Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte earlier this month.

St Nicholas Abbey is drawn in stall 12 of the 19 runners, with Dick Turpin and Greyfriarschorista on either side. Elusive Pimpernel will break from stall one with Awzaan on his outside.

Canford Cliffs will be in gate four for Richard Hughes, with Buzzword in 19.

  • William Knight built on his red-letter Wednesday as William Buick worked his magic aboard Cool Kitten (9/2) to spark an 18/1 double for the in-form trainer at Folkestone yesterday.

Round Won was Knight's only other runner and he completed the brace when making all under Shane Kelly in the Bet totepool At Median Auction Maiden Stakes.

Irish Independent

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