The Greenham Stakes is a major trial for the 2,000 Guineas for horses aged three. Many Classic contenders make their seasonal debut at Newmarket at the start of May and race in the main trials for juveniles. The Greenham Stakes and Craven Stakes involve the Classic generation and Newbury’s trial on Saturday features some leading contenders for the first Classic of the season. Expert Eye is the highest rated runner and odds-on favourite and prominent in the 2,000 Guineas betting. The Greenham will tell us a lot about the horse’s ability.
The race is a Group 3 contest for colts and geldings run over the straight seven furlongs course at Newbury. All the runners carry nine stone and there are no weight concessions. Even though horse’s official birthday is January 1st they are born at different times of the year and the mature horses have an advantage. At this early age horses develop mentally and physically so older horses have an edge. It’s a good idea to refer to a horse’s actual birthday when betting in races for horses aged two and three. It’s less relevant as horse get older.
Here is the ten-year record in the 2,000 Guineas of the horses that have won the Greenham which is generally run two weeks before the Classic:
2008 Paco Boy DID NOT RUN
2009 Vocalised DID NOT RUN
2010 Dick Turpin SECOND
2011 Frankel WON
2012 Casper Netscher UNPLACED
2013 Olympic Glory DID NOT RUN
2014 Kingman SECOND
2015 Muhaarar DID NOT RUN
2016 Tasleet DID NOT RUN
2017 Barney Roy SECOND
So, despite being a recognised trial five winners of the Greenham Stakes over the last decade did not run in the 2,000 Guineas. There was only one horse that won both races but he was quite special because his name was Frankel! Since 2008 three winners of the Newbury race finished second a couple of weeks later at Newmarket. However, not one winner of the last ten Cravens has won the Guineas. The National Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes numerically have been the best trials as three winners out of the last ten have also won the 2,000 Guineas.
Two former jockeys have won five Greenhams, and that’s a record. Henry Cecil and Richard Hannon Sr are the leading trainers with six winners. All runners are aged three and carry the same weight so there are no relevant trends for age and weight. Barney Roy, trained by Richard Hannon Jr and ridden by James Doyle, won the race last year and then finished a length behind Churchill in second place in the Classic. Churchill was the favourite in a race that has a good record for winning favourites. From 2011 to 2011 five favourites won the 2,000 Guineas.
James Garfield is the second favourite in ante post lists for the Greenham. The horse has a few pounds to make up on the favourite and beating Expert Eye looks beyond him. The horse ran six times as a two-year-old so is more battle hardened than Expert Eye. However, experience will have to give way to ability in this case.
Expert Eye has only run three times and his previous race was a disaster. Having won two decent races in the summer the horse was the favourite for the Dewhurst Stakes which is the most prestigious race for juvenile colts. Expert Eye ran no kind of race but was found to be lame. The form was too bad to be true but one interesting fact is that Mendelssohn finished second and that horse is now a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby. US Navy Flag won the race but is not running at Newbury on Saturday. Expert Eye can justify market confidence and win the Greenham Stakes.