Steve Moran

The Guineas’ so far: The Appleby and Dubawi show

Charlie Appleby’s quest for an historic clean sweep of the English, French and Irish 2,000 Guineas looks as near to certain as anything can be in the capricious world of horseracing as his charge Native Trail is a likely odds-on favourite for the final leg at the Curragh this weekend.

It’s similarly likely that if Native Trail is successful, Appleby would become the first trainer to win all three with three individual horses after claiming the Newmarket Classic with Coroebus and the French equivalent, last weekend, with Modern Games. I’m just not sure about antiquity on that call.

Aidan O’Brien, 20 years ago, completed the Guineas hat-trick with two horses as Rock Of Gibraltar was successful at both Newmarket and the Curragh while Landseer won at Longchamp.

It is the indefatigable Appleby, 46, and Darley’s irrepressible 20-year-old stallion Dubawi, who are again dominating the racing news, notwithstanding Baaeed’s triumphant return in the Lockinge at Newbury. 

Appleby’s star continues to shine brighter as Modern Games, by Dubawi as is Coroebus, scored a stunning win first-up – in a fast time – in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, although that level of exertion may be debilitating, as we’ll examine later.

Appleby was champion trainer of Britain for the first time last year; he won 17 Group 1 races worldwide and has maintained a GB winning strike of 26 per cent or better over the past six seasons (it’s a staggering 37 per cent this year).

He quinallaed the English 2,000 Guineas with Coroebus narrowly beating the previously unbeaten Native Trail and became the first trainer to do so since Rock Of Gibraltar bettered Hawk Wing, for Aidan O’Brien, interestingly in 2002. That was the year of Dubawi’s birth.

Dubawi, who boasts 49 individual Group 1 winners and is Europe’s most expensive stallion, would himself win the Irish 2,000 Guineas in 2005 establishing a recurring Guineas theme (and that was the last time Godolphin won the 2,000 Guineas in Ireland).

Dubawi’s first crop included the English 2,000 Guineas winner Makfi who sired the Poule d’Essai des Poulains winner Make Believe in his first crop.

Dubawi also produced the 2014 English 2,000 Guineas winner Night Of Thunder and has had Guineas runners-up Master Of The Seas (England) and Too Darn Hot (Ireland).

That resume is unlikely to be improved upon on Saturday – Native Trail is by Oasis Dream – although the Dubawi filly Concert Hall won’t be without some chance in Sunday’s Irish 1,000 Guineas.

With Coroebus saved for the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Irish 2,000 Guineas does look at the mercy of Native Trail who demonstrated he can cope with the travel and the Curragh by winning the National Stakes last season.

As to Modern Games, the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) is pencilled in but his recovery rate will be key after the fast-run Guineas at Longchamp.

Modern Games won in 1:34.90 off a solid tempo and became only the fourth winner to break 1:35.00 in more than 50 years. The others were Victory Note and Style Vendome, who did not win again, and Victor Ludorum who managed just one subsequent success which was in a very modest Group 3 race.

The French 1,000 Guineas was run at a much more comfortable tempo but the English 1,000 Guineas winner Cachet was unable, by just a head, to complete a front-running Classic double. Mangoustine, who stalked the pace, prevailed.

The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Zoffany filly Osmose finished just tenth but, with the best closing last 600-metre of the race, she might be the one to follow. Stablemate Zelda also ran ‘nicely’ while Rouget’s colts Lassaut and Welwal were sound behind Modern Games and the runner-up Texas whose performance was herculean but perhaps ‘gut-busting’.

The strongest of the four Guineas so far this season has been the English edition for the colts which augurs well for Native Trail this weekend – especially in the absence of third placed Luxembourg who’s sidelined with a muscle injury.

Berkshire Shadow, resuming, was the best of the on-speed runners at Newmarket and ought not be discounted when he next appears, which could well be at the Curragh.

Royal Patronage was the other sound on-pace performer in the Guineas and he subsequently ran very well, albeit beaten just over three lengths, behind Desert Crown in the Dante at York and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Desert Crown looks as likely a Derby winner as seen all season.

Appleby’s three-year-olds, headed by Coroebus and Native Trail, will later in the season arguably provide the stiffest test to Baaeed, who stretched his unbeaten run to seven in the Lockinge Stakes.

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