Bookmakers happy to take on Air Force Blue

Air Force Blue is set to go off the shortest-priced Qipco 2000 Guineas favourite since the mighty Frankel at Newmarket today.

Aidan O’Brien’s colt was crowned champion juvenile after a brilliant display in last season’s Dewhurst Stakes.

And while the Ballydoyle handler has voiced concerns about his ability to stay the testing mile at Headquarters, he is as short as 4-7 to claim Classic glory.

Not since Frankel’s mesmerising display as in 2011 has a horse been sent off an odds-on favourite but that is set to be the case - despite bookmakers happy to take him on.

Coral’s David Stevens said: “As an odds-on favourite, I think Air Force Blue is a horse we have to go after in the morning. Even Aidan himself has admitted there are question marks, particularly with the trip and potentially the ground.”

Ladbrokes spokesman David Williams also reports punters to have looked beyond the market leader.

He said: “Punters are looking to the skies for their Guineas inspiration Recent rainfall has seen Stormy Atlantic and Galileo Gold the two best-backed horses against the O’Brien hotpot.”

O’Brien saddled a joint-record seventh Guineas winner when Gleneagles struck gold 12 months ago and has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds his latest superstar.

“He’s always been very quick and has a lot of natural speed, that’s why we are hoping he gets a mile,” said the trainer, who also saddles the long-absent Air Vice Marshal.

“Obviously this will be the acid test as it’s his first run over a mile - we’ll probably learn a lot about him.”

Heading the home team is the runaway Craven scorer Stormy Antarctic.

Trainer Ed Walker said: “It is by default rather than design that he has run on soft ground so much. He copes with it very well, but I don’t think it is a necessity.”

The Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained Marcel has not been seen in competitive action since his shock Racing Post Trophy victory at Doncaster last October.

“I’ve been very happy with him over the winter but he does need to improve and he needs to find a bit more speed,” said the St Gatien handler

“I watched Air Force Blue win the Dewhurst the other day and it did make me choke on my tea, but beside him it’s an open race.”

Buratino claimed Air Force Blue’s scalp in last season’s Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, but the tables were turned in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh two months later.

Trainer Mark Johnston said: “He won the Coventry over six furlongs at Royal Ascot, but I never saw him as an out-and-out sprinter.

“He has been working well since his first gallops early in the year. He is a very easy horse.

“He has done very well in a couple of racecourse gallops, over seven furlongs and a mile.”

Buratino is one of three Godolphin representatives in the 13-strong field along with Jim Bolger’s Herald The Dawn and the Richard Fahey-trained Ribchester.

Frankie Dettori will be on board Hugo Palmer’s Galileo Gold, a winner at Glorious Goodwood last season.

“I’m very pleased with the progress Galileo Gold has made throughout the winter and I’m expecting him to run a big race and hopefully run into a place, at least,” Dettori told his Ladbrokes blog.


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