Kingman runs in the same colours as Frankel and although comparisons with the great horse are premature the manner of victory in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury suggests this is a horse that could be the best of his generation. The acid test will come in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday for which Kingman is the clear favourite.
The British turf year is structured so that four of the five Classics are run in the first three months of the season. The Guineas for males and females are run over the straight mile at Newmarket this weekend. The Derby and Oaks are run at Epsom in June. Doncaster stages the St Leger in September. The Holy Grail of Flat racing is the Triple Crown which involves winning all three of the Classics for which any horse is eligible.
Winning three Classics in one calendar year is seen as the greatest achievement possible for a thoroughbred racehorse. Only three olds are eligible for the Classics so some contenders are not full developed when running in one of the Guineas in May. The demands of the concept means a horse must peak on three days in May, June and September and win over distances from one mile to one mile six furlongs on three different tracks.
Only fifteen horses have achieved the Triple Crown in Britain. The last was Nijinsky in 1970 and the previous one was in 1935. Only seven horses won the Triple Crown in the 20th Century and the earliest was in 1835. Ten horses have won the Derby and 2,000 Guineas but were beaten in the St Leger.
Camelot won the first two Classics for which he was eligible in 2012. He was beaten by Encke in the St Leger. That horse was later embroiled by the Godolphin doping scandal but there was no suggestion Encke was doped and he passed all the relevant drugs tests. However, Encke has not raced since the St Leger but has been entered for Royal Ascot in June.
Camelot was trained by Aiden O’Brien and owned by the Coolmore syndicate. Nijinsky was trained at Ballydoyle by Vincent O’Brien who is not related to Aiden. There a statue of Nijinsky at O’Brien’s stable and the Irish owners and breeders see the Triple Crown as a massive objective. St Nicholas Abbey was a potential winner of the Triple Crown but he was not as his best at three.
The modern day O’Brien thinks Australia is the best horse he has ever trained. The Coolmore boys sees this horse as a potential Triple Crown winner but the Guineas could prove the most difficult of the three to win. Australia is bred for one mile two furlongs or the extra two furlongs of the Derby. He has the pedigree to win that race but perhaps not the speed for the Guineas.
Australia will have to be the best O’Brien has trained to best Kingman. That horse is more about achievement than reputation and Kingman has better form. Australia did nothing wrong as a juvenile but Kingman has shown on the track that he has developed mentally and physically over the winter. Australia is still unproven at the highest level.
Kingman was touted as a Classic contender after his first run as a two year old. His trainer, John Gosden, tried to play down the hype and suggested there had been a massive overreaction from the bookmakers to his horse’s form on the track. Even Gosden admitted he has a potential superstar in his care and could not have been more pleased with the race at Newbury.
The 2,000 Guineas is by no means a two horse race. Toormore was the champion two old from last season so on ratings looks overpriced. The horse won his trial this season in workmanlike fashion but conditions should suit at Newmarket. The horse is trained by Richard Hannon junior and ridden by Richard Hughes so will lack for nothing in terms of training and jockeyship.
War Command and Kingston Hill also won key races aged two. The former is trained by Aiden O’Brien so with the knowledge of how good Australia is wont be running War Command just for a day out and trip from Ireland. Noozhoh Canarias adds some intrigue to the race as the horse is trained in Spain so there is no British collateral form to assess in the context of his chances.
Australia is already the favourite for the Derby and that still could be the case even in defeat in the Guineas. Fourth in the Guineas, first in the Derby is a familiar comment. Australia can do better than that at Newmarket at Saturday but with Kingman to beat winning the race might be beyond him.
Rizeena is the favourite for the fillies Classic, the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday. However, on ratings and two year old form Lady Kristale seems overpriced. The horse is trained by George Margarson who does not have the backing of wealthy owners and syndicates. If Lady Kristale was trained by Hannon or O’Brien she would be much shorter in the betting and on juvenile form looks a leading contender.
Vorda has run just one bad race and looks another horse that has been underestimated by the bookies. She won the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket as a two year old, a significant trial for the following year’s Guineas. Vorda also ran a great trial over seven furlongs in France and the jockey suggested the extra furlong of the Guineas should be well within her scope.
Miss France is looking to restore her reputation after a moderate run in France. However, the horse had no luck in running and the bare form is not a true indication of her ability. Miss France is unproven at Newmarket over one mile so on the basis of solid form and the relative prices Vorda makes more appeal.
However, Kingman could prove to be the best horse running at Newmarket this weekend. He will never be Frankel but even performing at a level just below that horse at its best could still prove to be one of the best horses of the modern racing era.