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Timeform: Stick with the Barney Army to halt Churchill’s advance in the 2,000 Guineas

Richard Hannon's Greenham Stakes winner Barney Roy stands between Ballydoyle an an eighth victory in Saturday's opening Classic

Sir Winston Churchill’s first racehorse – which he bought when he was seventy five – was Colonist II who won eight races as a four-year-old in 1950, including the Jockey Club Cup at Newmarket.

As far as we’re aware, neither Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn, or any of the other party leaders, own a racehorse, though with all of the baby-kissing and factory-visiting taking place ahead of June’s snap General Election, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to read they did.

However, unless either has been tucking expense forms away quicker than a demented squirrel, it’s unlikely that either could afford to purchase the current favourite Churchill, who, according to the betting will take all the beating in Saturday’s 2000 Guineas.

 

If he is successful, his trainer Aidan O’Brien will take the outright record for the most number of victories in the long history of the first colts’ classic.

All seven of O’Brien’s 2000 Guineas winners went to Newmarket without a prior run at three and Churchill will likewise be making his reappearance in Saturday’s race.

He was last seen in public at the beginning of October when decisively landing the odds in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. Churchill had a full campaign as a two-year-old, racing six times in as many months from May to October and winning his last five races.

His best effort, albeit in a Group 1 which lacked strength in depth, came in the National Stakes at the Curragh which he won by more than four lengths.

None of O’Brien’s Guineas winners had contested the National Stakes and the Dewhurst, let alone won both – only Rock of Gibraltar ran in, and won, the Newmarket contest.

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Last year’s winner Galileo Gold – trained by Hugo Palmer and ridden by Frankie Dettori – sprang a surprise and it is another Al Shaqab-owned horse who looks a big danger to Churchill.

Trained by Andre Fabre in France, Al Wukair won both his starts at two and, despite racing somewhat lazily, was eventually an authoritative winner of the Prix Djebel last month.

In other recognised trials, the Frankel colt Eminent made it two wins from two when producing a commanding performance (both visually and on the clock) in the Craven Stakes over the Guineas course and distance. Meanwhile Barney Roy impressed in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury.

 

Photo finish at the Curragh

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Frankel used Newbury’s Greenham Stakes as his Guineas trial, as did Night of Thunder (second at Newbury in 2014), those two being the last couple of 2000 Guineas winners to have taken in a prep race along the way.

The latest Greenham threw up arguably the pick of the trial winners when Barney Roy confirmed debut promise from a Haydock maiden last season with an impressive beating of fellow Godolphin-owned colt Dream Castle.

He is another promising colt by Frankel but looks much less likely to be suited by the extra furlong of Saturday’s opening Classic of the season.

Timeform verdict: Barney Army, Barney Army, Barney Army!

What do you think?