Did we see the 2000 Guineas winner today? Well, the answer is: maybe! Certainly Al Wukair made a big impression at Maisons-Laffitte when landing the Group 3 Prix Djebel.
The two year old son of Dream Ahead dawdled along in the rear of the field but once switched to the outside by rider Gregory Benoist the colt produced a stunning turn of foot and won rather handily going away in the end without being all out.
This, big scopey lad looked still a bit green, which is fine as it was only his third start – though also his third win! He finished last season with a 100% two for two record, culminating in a really nice Listed race win at Deauville where he proved to stay the mile.
Seven furlongs today was no big deal either but he was probably slightly taken out of his comfort zone by the pace and a return to the eight furlong trip will suit him. This form appears to be very strong, given runner-up National Defense is the reigning Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere champ.
Trainer Andre Fabre was pleased stating in the aftermath “it was a useful race, I was delighted by the style in which he won; seven furlongs is a bit sharp for him so, with all that put together I am happy and we will go for the Guineas,”
With these French horse but more in general with Guineas contenders you don’t know how they take to the quirky test that Newmarket racecourse provides. It may well be a bit of a culture shock for Al Wukair too, however I crunched the numbers for Dream Ahead offspring which are quite encouraging, actually.
Albeit a limited sample size, it looks still significant: over a mile from 9 starters 3 have won and overall 5 were in the money. That is quite healthy output given the average SP for those starters was 7/1.
In summary there is plenty to like about Al Wukair. He was a promising juvenile but has clearly trained on and filled his big frame as we’ve seen today. He’s classy, has a turn of foot and on pedigree should be okay at the Rowley Mile. He’ll come into the 2000 Guineas race fit and it can’t be a disadvantage to be trained by the master that Andre Fabre is.
Al Wukair is already as short as 5/1 with some firms, but 8/1 is still available. It won’t last. Whether favourite Churchill can be beaten remains to be seen, but he’s a very short price and let’s not forget what happened to the red hot favourite of the same stable last year when everyone thought he was unbeatable.
At 8/1 I’m happy to put a big ante-post wager each-way on Al Wukair. He showed me today anything I wanted to see from a potential Guineas star.
2.00 Lingfield: Maiden Stakes
Favourite Eagle Creek looks hard to beat if ready to go on his seasonal reappearance. He ran well on debut last season but was put away subsequently. He’s destined for better and this race is most likely only a stepping stone.
From a good family by Raven’s Pass and Listed race placed dam Blue Angel, a half-brother to listed race winner and multiple Meydan winner Viren’s Army, he should be too good for this lot at Lingfield.
The All-Weather surface is unlikely to pose a threat and connections must clearly feel he’s here to win as Atzeni comes for only this one ride and his record in Lingfield maidens when he’s having only a single ride on the day is marvellous
10pts win – Eagle Creek @ 2/1 Bet365
3.10 Pontefract: Class 3 Handicap
The books seem to have the wrong horse favoured in the betting in my book. William Haggas’s Battered looks a far better chance at a bigger price. Battered run well in four starts in his juvenile campaign. Won a competitive maiden at Yarmouth and lost little in defeat when runner-up in a hot Handicap at York.
He had subsequent Listed places Tomily behind him who is now a 99 rated individual. RPR’s also suggest Battered is likely to be well in here off his current 82 mark.
Further to that he did better than one would expect as a two year old given sire Foxwedge progeny seems to do better as three year olds. With a track that favoures prominent runners sure to suit this pacey lad I feel he takes the world of beating.
10 pts win – Battered @ 2/1 PP