2,000 Guineas selection
2,000 Guineas Selection - WEMBLEY 4/1
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With Santa Barbara emerging from the clouds as a possible good thing in the fillies’ equivalent, there has been plenty of discussion in recent months over who Ballydoyle’s number one will be in this year’s 2,000 Guineas with Battleground, St Mark’s Basilica and Wembley all featuring prominently in the betting for the Rowley Mile Classic.
Battleground was the earliest to come to throw his name into the ring, by War Front out of the outstanding racemare, Found, he’s done next to nothing wrong to date. A promising 5th on debut behind subsequent Phoenix Stakes winner Lucky Vega before taking the Chesham at Royal Ascot and Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. The striking colt was last seen finishing a running-on second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, losing absolutely nothing in defeat.
St Mark’s Basilica was bought for 1.3 million guineas as a yearling by the Coolmore band and developed into a very smart performer on the course, signing off his juvenile campaign with a victory in the Dewhurst at Newmarket in October. The son of Siyouni is a half-brother to 2019 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia so it’s no surprise that his career has gained such interest and he’s bound to go here with a live chance.
But the one that interests me most, and it looks like the market finally seems to have also swayed in his favour, is with Wembley. The Galileo colt took a while to come to hand last year but improved with racing every step of the way, despite only getting his head in front on the one occasion. He’s been behind the well-bred Hudson River, when showing signs of promise on debut, Vertem Futurity winner Mac Swiney, Blue For You who could be smart despite disappointing last week, Thunder Moon when staying on from the rear in the National Stakes, and St Mark’s Basilica, again, staying on from way behind in the Dewhurst. He was then mean to then run in the Vertem Futurity where he’d have re-opposed Mac Swiney and was well-fancied to get back to winning ways but for his late withdrawal on the day of the event.
The Dewhurst looks like it could be the key bit of form here and as much as I don’t think he was ever getting past his stablemate on that occasion, the colt couldn’t have had a worse trip. Drawn in the car park, Ryan Moore settled the horse in the rear and widest of all, seemingly tracking joint Guineas favourite Thunder Moon. As the race unfolded, he had to nearly orbit the field to make his challenge, passing all but one up the centre of the course, only going down by 3/4s of a length to St Mark's Basilica who had a much smoother trip throughout. I get the sense that he used up so much petrol to get involved that he didn’t have enough at the end to eclipse the efforts of Dettori up the rail.
He motored through the soft on that occasion, but he was equally as impressive when finishing a creditable second in the National Stakes behind Thunder Moon. That day Thunder Moon elevated himself into the reckoning for the 2,000 Guineas after displaying a blistering turn of foot up the rail to land the coveted prize, but in the last furlong or so Wembley seemed to lose no ground on the winner, staying on powerfully widest of all to snatch second on the line. He finished with a flourish on that occasion, surpassing the efforts of Master Of The Seas, St Mark's Basilica and Lucky Vega who all arrive at Newmarket with outstanding chances and for all they’re bound to be better for that start, he really quickened past them like a good thing. That effort gives me plenty of confidence with the return to a better surface and the way he’s been hitting the line, the mile should be no bother.