OVER the last few seasons the blue wave of Godolphin has continued to gather momentum and the organisation could strike a telling early blow today by swooping in to take the first classic of the season today, the 2000 Guineas (3.40).
The instigator of such momentum has largely been Charlie Appleby. The main man at Moulton Paddocks continued his red hot form at Newmarket yesterday with a treble which has elevated his strike rate in April to a massive 45%.
One of those winners this month was Native Trail who confirmed his class and wellbeing with an authoritative win in the Craven Stakes earlier this month.
The son of Oasis Dream has been favourite for this race ever since he ran out a most impressive winner of the National Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend last September. There he was much too good for Point Lonsdale, and though Aidan O’Brien has another dart to throw in the shape of Luxembourg today, it looks an ominous challenge.
In truth, Godolphin’s resurgence has been ominous for Coolmore for a while now. According to a research article by Timeform this week, last season was the first season that the median rating of Appleby’s best five juveniles was higher than O’Brien’s. You only have to go back to 2015 when the gap between the two was 10lbs in favour of Ballydoyle, but since then the boys in blue have been coming and when you have the best two-year-olds, you’ve a better chance of having the best three-year-olds.
Quorto and Pinatubo can be held up against that statement and both those instances, more so the former, show there are no guarantees. But in this case, we’ve already seen Native Trail as a three-year-old and the signs are good.
When you combine Native Trail with Coreobus, the impressive Autumn Stakes winner, Godolphin is odds-on to win the Guineas and that will be a first win in the race since Dawn Approach in 2013 and a first win for a ‘home’ trainer since Saeed Bin Suroor’s Island Sands won in 1999.
O’Brien more or less admitted Luxembourg and Point Lonsdale face an uphill task today, drawing comparisons to the pair’s respective sires Camelot and Australia. The former won the Guineas and the latter finished third, before both looked far more at home when impressively winning their Derbys, and Epsom should again prove a better hunting ground for Ballydoyle this season.
This is the only day of the season when there is a Group 1 race on the flat and Grade 1 race over jumps taking place, with final day of the Punchestown Festival the main focus for National Hunt fans.
Epatante is favourite for the Coolmore Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle (3.50) after swerving another match-up with Honeysuckle yesterday, while Vauban will be fancied to make it three Grade 1s in a row in the Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle. The Willie Mullins-trained gelding may well then cross codes and take his place on a major stage on the flat by taking on the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.