Although the British flat racing season has been officially under way for a while, it really gets going in earnest with Newmarket’s Guineas meeting, which kicks off on Saturday May 5th 2012. The highlight of the first day is of course the 2,000 Guineas, the first of the five Classics and a major pointer to the Derby later in the season. The hot favourite for the 2012 renewal of the 2,000 Guineas is Aidan O’Brien’s Camelot, but can we find a bigger priced horse in the field to get him beaten? Read our 2,000 Guineas preview to find out…

The 2,000 Guineas is the first of the five “Classic” races in the British flat racing season, and it is a race steeped in history and tradition. First run back in April 1809, the 2,000 Guineas takes its name from the prize money on offer when the race was inaugurated. The total prize money is closer to £350,000 these days, making the 2,000 Guineas an even more desirable race to win – but who will be tasting victory at Newmarket in 2012?

We’re going to cast an eye over recent 2,000 Guineas winners in a bid to pick out any trends that might emerge and hopefully, by applying those same trends to the 2012 field, we should be able to narrow down the current crop of 26 entries to a more manageable figure in our bid to find the winner of the 2012 2,000 Guineas.

We’ll start by taking a look at the class of this year’s 2,000 Guineas entrants. To win such a prestigious and valuable race, the horse needs to be a really classy sort and here are some trends to back that up:

  • All of the last 13 winners of the 2,000 Guineas were sired by the winner of a Group 1 race in Europe, or the Grade 1 equivalent in America
  • Since 1991, all of the 2,000 Guineas winners were sired by a horse with a stamina index of at least 8.0 furlongs
  • 14 of the last 15 2,000 Guineas winners had taken part in a Group race, the one exception being Golan, a colt that had only raced once in its career before lining up at Newmarket

In terms of racing history, there are plenty of important trends to pay attention to in our quest to find the winner of the 2,000 Guineas in 2012:

  • 15 of the last 16 winners of the 2,000 Guineas had run in five or fewer races during their careers
  • 12 of the last 13 winners had won 50% (or more) of their career races prior to their Newmarket success
  • 11 of the last 13 2,000 Guineas winners had won their very first career start
  • All of the last 16 winners of the race had finished in the front three on their final start before the 2,000 Guineas, with 13 of those having actually won

These trends alone allow us to seriously thin out the current 2,000 Guineas field, but there are plenty more important trends to keep in mind too:

  • All of the last 16 winners had won a race over six or seven furlongs before their 2,000 Guineas success
  • 12 of the last 13 winners had won over either seven furlongs or a mile before heading to Newmarket

These stats suggest that horses with winning form over further than a mile (such as Mandaean) might not have the necessary speed to win the 2,000 Guineas, while those horses that have only won over shorter distances (like Saigon) might not possess the necessary stamina.

Another interesting trend emerges when analysing the racing style of the front three finishers in the 2,000 Guineas over the past 13 races – there is a preference for hold up horses that come with a late run. 19 of the 39 horses to place in the last 13 years were held up at the rear of the field, compared with 12 front runners / prominent racers and 8 mid-division types – a total of 20 horses that weren’t held up.

It’s probably also worth noting that only two favourites have won the 2,000 Guineas since 1993, but 11 of the past 13 winners started in the front six of the betting. This is not of much use to us at present as we are still betting antepost, but if you would prefer to wait until the day of the race, these trends may be worth keeping in mind.

So after applying all of these trends to the 2012 field, there are two horses that tick all of the major boxes. Unfortunately, one of those is the favourite Camelot and the other is Roger Charlton’s Top Offer.

Even though the horse meets all of the key race trends, Camelot is far too short at a best price of 2.38 (SportingBet) to entertain an antepost bet in the 2,000 Guineas. The price is as much due to trainer Aidan O’Brien’s record in the race as anything the horse has achieved (O’Brien has managed five wins in the past 14 years) and considering the statistic about winning favourites, it’s definitely worth taking him on with a bigger priced each-way bet.

Top Offer could well be the alternative, at a best price of 8.00 (BetVictor, SportingBet) but with only one career run under its belt, I can’t help but feel uncertain as to how good the horse actually is. He pulled hard on his racecourse debut and of course you’d expect him to improve on that, but he doesn’t appear to have beaten very much at all that day and I think I’d rather look elsewhere.

One 2,000 Guineas entrant that I’m quite interested in at a big price is Hermival (best price 34.00 BetVictor, BoyleSports). He ticks the majority of the boxes in terms of trends and although he is currently a big price, his trainer Mikel Delzangles landed this race in 2010 with Makfi – the biggest priced 2,000 Guineas winner since 1975 – so if anybody knows how to win this race with an outsider, it is he.

Makfi won the Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte en route to his 2,000 Guineas win, a path also followed by Hermival who could only finish a length and a half third behind French Fifteen in this year’s renewal, but he didn’t entirely have the run of the race and had to be forced quite wide to get into contention. Once he got the idea, he picked up well enough to make decent headway and with that run under his belt, and hopefully better racing ground, he could run a big race at a healthy price. His racing style suggests that he has a chance to win the 2012 renewal of the 2,000 Guineas too, as he likes to come with a late run.

In short, I won’t be surprised if Camelot wins the 2012 renewal of the 2,000 Guineas but as I say, I don’t fancy backing him at the current prices. If, like me, you prefer to back bigger priced horses, then you should definitely consider Hermival.

Advice:

The QIPCO 2,000 Guineas Stakes
Saturday 5th May 2012, 15:10

Hermival (Each-Way) @ 34.00 (BetVictor, BoyleSports)