Tom Lee's 1000 and 2000 Guineas Preview: Eminent and Daban can deliver on biggest stage at Newmarket


Most recently with Gleneagles in 2015, Irish master trainer, Aidan O'Brien, holds the modern record of seven successes to date in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, and on Saturday afternoon he unleashes a powerful bid to improve that record, spearheaded by Churchill.

A prolific winning son of Galileo, both of Churchill's most recent racecourse forays resulted in Group 1 victories, firstly in the Curragh's National Stakes back in September, before rounding off his season in style with victory in Newmarket's Dewhurst - traditionally a powerful pointer to future Guineas success.

You can soon see why he's a warm order to bag the first Classic of the season, run at 3.30pm on Saturday, and worth a hefty £283,550 to the winner!

What's more, all of the previous O'Brien winners of this famous race were delivering on their first outing of the season, so anyone trying to argue that lack of match practice is going to be Churchill's undoing is almost certainly wide of the mark.

For back-up, O'Brien also has Lancaster Bomber and Spirit Of Valor among the ten-strong field, and though utmost respect must go to Churchill, this smaller than usual field does include some tempting alternatives...

In fact, this is the smallest field since Doyoun won a nine horse race back in 1988, but conversely it's one stacked with plausible contenders to derail Churchill.

All the way from France and the lush landscape of Chantilly, France's iconic handler, Andre Fabre, sends the exciting and as yet unbeaten colt, Al Wukair, into battle.

He definitely has a shout, but at slightly bigger odds the one for me has to be Eminent (6.50).

Locally-trained and on the up, he too is unbeaten, having 16 days ago demolished the opposition over the Guineas course and distance in the Group 3 Craven Stakes.

He didn't exactly beat rubbish there either, roaring home to see off Racing Post Trophy hero Rivet.

That makes Eminent, a son of Frankel no less, a dual course winner who powerfully sees out the testing Guineas mile.

Seemingly already streetwise and tough, he has the bang-in-form Jim Crowley on his back, and could help propel his trainer, Martyn Meade, firmly into the spotlight.



Elsewhere on a glittering Saturday card at British Flat racing's self-styled HQ, Aidan O'Brien does look to hold a firm chance of winning the Group 2 Dunaden Jockey Club Stakes (2.55pm), sending hard-as-nails mare, Seventh Heaven, in to bat for him in the mile and a half contest.

Against her own sex she won Group 1's at The Curragh and York last summer, and arrives here off the back of a magnificent effort in the Sheena Classic in Dubai at the end of March, in which she chased home Jack Hobbs.

Race fit and top-rated in a field of 7, she's up against handicappers trying to step up (Galapiat), horses returning from significant absences (Across The Stars, Aug '16), and those who've failed so far at the top level (One Foot In Heaven was 100/1 when mid division in the Arc).

She should be good enough, and fast forward to Sunday afternoon so should her talented stablemate Somehow, who looks a likely winner of the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes (2.20pm).

She warmed up for this with a listed win at Gowran Park last Sunday, and last season's Oaks fourth look in good nick then, suggesting this race looked very much a logical next step.

On a day where the girls get their chance to shine at a number of levels, the fillies' Classic comes around at 3.35pm, with a field of 14 for the 1000 Guineas.

Three of them represent O'Brien, including antepost each way gamble Winter, plus favourite Rhododendron, a comfortable winner of the Fillies' Mile last time we saw her.

However, it's fascinating to see that John Gosden, who had the option to run both Daban and Dabyah, relies on only the first of that pair...

Daban looked very good when scoring in the Nell Gwyn in mid-April, and rather like the argument for supporting Eminent in the big one 24 hours previously, she's a race-fit, locally-trained, fast-improving, unbeaten, course and distance trial winner, one available at a nice each way price.

For all of those reasons, Daban (6.00) gets the each way vote for the 1000 Guineas.