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2,000 Guineas placings a great guide to Epsom

J A McGrath

Five Godolphin winners at Newmarket at the weekend showcased the depth of talent in the stables of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed this year and gave further encouragement for next month’s big meetings at Epsom and Royal Ascot.

Wild Illusion (4th) and Soliloquy (6th) both performed with honour in the G1 1,000 Guineas, finishing within striking distance of surprise winner Billesdon Brook (Champs Elysees), who became the biggest outsider to triumph in the 204-year history of the fillies’ Classic.

But two outstanding performances in particular on the Rowley Mile captured the imagination of Godolphin followers — the brilliant win of Wuheida in the G2 Dahlia Stakes and the fine third of Masar in the G1 2,000 Guineas.

It was a sparkling seasonal debut from Wuheida (Dubawi), who was a great credit to Charlie Appleby’s team in Dubai, where she had spent the winter. She surprised her trainer how quickly she has come to hand this preparation.

“We were originally thinking of Deauville in August, and then America, but she has brought herself forward....good horses do that. Now we will be looking for targets closer to home in the next few weeks,” Appleby said.

Royal Ascot targets such as the G1 Queen Anne Stakes and G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes now loom large on the horizon, while the G1 Falmouth Stakes at the Newmarket July Meeting is also a feasible option.

Wuheida impressed with her fighting win in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Del Mar in November but there are grounds for believing she can even surpass that achievement this season.

The respective merits of the Classic generation were further examined on both sides of the Atlantic at the weekend.

Saxon Warrior (Deep Impact) galloped to the line strongly for a decisive victory in the 2,000 Guineas, with Tip Two Win (Dark Angel) second and Masar (New Approach) third, all three producing the high level of performance expected in this important race.

Masar ran a cracker for Godolphin in third, having to make most of the running in his group on the stands rail after the field split into three.

In the past 12 years, three colts finishing second or third in the 2,000 Guineas went on to win the G1 Derby at Epsom — Sir Percy (2006), New Approach (2008) and Australia (2014) — while Sea The Stars (2009) and Camelot (2012) both completed the Guineas-Derby double in that time frame.

There is good reason to believe Masar is developing into the perfect horse for the Derby, particularly as William Buick reported him to relax beautifully during the Guineas. His athleticism will stand him in good stead at Epsom.

At Churchill Downs, the best three-year-olds in America were led home by a colt many believe could be the next Triple Crown winner. 

Justify (Scat Daddy) ignored the torrential rain and sloppy track to run home a convincing winner from Good Magic (Curlin) and will now prepare for the G1 Preakness at Pimlico on Saturday, 19 May.