It’s Irish Guineas weekend and when the Classics are taking place in the UK and Ireland one man dominates. Aidan O’Brien set a world record for most Group 1 and Grade 1 wins last season and he’s already made his mark in the Flat races that matter most in 2018. Saxon Warrior won the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas and the horse is now odds on to win the Derby and there is talk of the Triple Crown, not achieved since Nijinsky won three Classics in 1970. O’Brien saddles the favourites for the Irish 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas run over a mile at the Curragh on Saturday and Sunday.
Saxon Warrior won the English Classic mainly contested by colts aged three with something in hand. The horse was much better value for the winning distance even though the horse that finished second was not the second best horse on form and ratings. The fact that Tip Two Win Laurens finished just one and a half lengths adrift in the Guineas would put question marks against the form but Saxon Warrior ran as though longer distances would be better and the Derby is run over one mile and four furlongs. The third leg of the treble is the St Leger which is run over one mile and six furlongs at Doncaster in September.
Gustav Klimt finished in sixth place over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket, almost four lengths behind Saxon Warrior. The horse tracked the leaders but was unable to quicken and did not act on the track. The Curragh does not have the undulations and could be a better track for Gustav Klimt and you know O’Brien is not running the horse without being confident he can run well. However, the price is more based on the reputation of the trainer then proven form. With Saxon Warrior dominating the English Guineas was a truly run race and the winner ran on strongly.
Other than that horse the runner to take out of the race could be Elarqam. It was just a third career start and the horse looked very well in the paddock. Elarqam took a keen hold and could not quicken after being impeded. The horse recovered but could not run on again inside the final furlong but finished a length and a half in front of Gustav Klimt. In theory Elarqam should be the favourite for the Irish version and can confirm the form with the O’Brien horse. Masar beat Elarqam by half a length in the Guineas but made no impression on the first two at the business end of the race.
Clemmie was for some time the ante post favourite for the 1,000 Guineas but a minor injury ruled this O’Brien horse out of the race. Clemmie had shown better form than Happily who was the trainers man hope but the horse was found wanting on the track at Newmarket. Happily finished third in the race and was beaten by more than two lengths by the winner. Billesdon Brook was an unconsidered outsider but there are no fluke results in Classics. Soliloquy also brings Guineas form to the Curragh but Clemmie has the form to deliver another Group 1 contest for O’Brien.
O’Brien also sends over the favourite for the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in Rhododendron. The race is run over the straight mile so there should be no hard luck stories and the best horse on the day will win. That runner should be Rhododendron who represents last year’s Classic generation and has enough to beat the older horse. Addeybb has graduated from handicaps so may be found out and Rhododendron is tipped to give O’Brien more Group 1 success.