Ground conditions at Newmarket could be a question mark for the hugely talented Camelot in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket tomorrow .
The Aidan O’Brien-trained three-year-old aims to become the first son of Montjeu to win the Rowley Mile Classic, and it would be particularly poignant if he could strike in the year the top-class racehorse and sire passed away.
While Montjeu’s progeny generally act well with cut in the ground, Camelot showed a brilliant turn of foot on a sound surface to run away with last season’s Racing Post Trophy.
Big-race rider Joseph O’Brien admits they will be going into the unknown if the ground does not dry out ahead of the weekend, with the ground officially soft yesterday morning after 25 millimetres of rain.
“He has a high cruising speed and ticks the right boxes. I’d be hoping he’d run a nice race,” said O’Brien junior.
“I have to have a question mark over the ground. He’s a very good moving horse and won both starts last year on good ground.
“He seems to have wintered well and we’re looking forward to it. He’s come to hand fairly quickly and he’s ready for his first run of the year.”
Camelot is very much this year’s most talked-about Ballydoyle hope, but the Tipperary powerbase also saddle a fascinating second string in Group One winner Power, who will be ridden by Ryan Moore.
Another major challenger for Ireland is the John Oxx-trained Born To Sea.
The son of Invincible Spirit has plenty to live up to as a half-brother to Sea The Stars, whose victory in the 2009 Guineas kicked off an unbeaten three-year-old year.
Oxx has been happy with how his colt has gone at home in recent weeks.
“The weather hasn’t hindered us at all. The horse has had a good preparation and he hasn’t missed any work,” said Oxx.
“We’ve only run him twice, but he hasn’t been too inconvenienced by soft ground before. I don’t think ground is much of an issue. I think he would prefer fast ground, but I wouldn’t pull him out because it was soft.”
A total of 18 colts are set to face the starter, with Jim Bolger’s Parish Hall the one notable absentee following the declaration stage.
There is a strong contingent from France, with Abtaal, French Fifteen and Hermival all making the cross-Channel journey.
Craven Stakes winner Trumpet Major is Richard Hannon’s leading hope and he is joined by Bronterre, Coupe De Ville and Redact.
One of the buzz horses in the field is Roger Charlton’s Top Offer. He has not been seen since winning a Newbury maiden last August, but has a massive reputation.
Greenham Stakes winner Caspar Netscher, Boomerang Bob, Fencing, Ptolemaic, Red Duke, Saigon and the supplemented Talwar complete the field.
Meanwhile, Lightening Pearl is likely to make the journey from Ireland to Newmarket before a final decision is made on her participation in Sunday’s Qipco 1000 Guineas.
The Ger Lyons-trained filly won three times from five starts as a juvenile, rounding off an excellent campaign by claiming Group One glory in the six-furlong Cheveley Park Stakes at Headquarters.
She is set to return to the Rowley Mile for her Classic bid this weekend but David Redvers, racing manager for owners Pearl Bloodstock, insists she will not be in the line-up if conditions are deemed too testing.
“She will almost certainly travel, unless it absolutely buckets it down with rain tonight. I’d imagine it will be Saturday before we make a decision on whether we run or not,” said Redvers.
Joseph O’Brien has no such ground worries for his mount, unbeaten red-hot favourite Maybe, who is trained by his father, Aidan.
O’Brien said “She was flawless last year, five out of five. She never looked like getting beaten in any of her races, so hopefully she can run a nice race.”
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