(from Newmarket release)
Seventeen horses have reached the final declaration stage for the 2009 renewal of the stanjames.com Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I), the opening Classic of the season run over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket on May 2.
The going at Newmarket remains good to firm ahead of the two-day festival, which takes place May 2-3.
Jointly heading the field for the £426,000 event at 7/2 is Delegator, the impressive winner of the Three banshahousestables.com Craven Stakes (Eng-III) at Newmarket on April 16.
Delegator’s trainer Brian Meehan said on his Web site April 30 that he is happy with the colt’s final preparation for the one-mile test. " We are more than happy with the draw (15) he has been given. He has some fancied horses drawn around him and that was just what we were looking for.
"He went five furlongs (today) in what was an easy piece and he went every bit as well as we had hoped. Everything has gone according to plan so far and the horse must have a great chance."
Rip Van Winkle, winner of his first two starts last season before finishing seventh in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket on Oct. 18, is the joint favorite. His trainer, Aidan O’Brien, is seeking a sixth success in the Two Thousand Guineas following King Of Kings (1998), Rock Of Gibraltar (2002), Footstepsinthesand (2005), George Washington (2006) and Henrythenavigator (2008). The Galileo colt will be partnered by Ballydoyle’s number one jockey, Johnny Murtagh, who was aboard both Rock Of Gibraltar and Henrythenavigator.
O’Brien will also be represented by 9/2 chance Mastercraftsman, a dual group I winner last season to be ridden by Pat Smullen. Two other Irish–trained contenders are Jim Bolger’s Gan Amhras and the John Oxx-conditioned Sea The Stars, a half-brother to Derby winner Galileo and last seen winning the Beresford Stakes (Ire-II) at the Curragh in September.
Several horses will be making their seasonal debuts, including Evasive, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and successful in two of his three starts last season including the Horris Hill Stakes (Eng-III) at Newbury. Stoute is also pursuing a sixth success in the Two Thousand Guineas after scoring with Shadeed (1985), Doyoun (1988), Entrepreneur (1997), King's Best (2000) and Golan (2001).
Lord Shanakill and Finjaan finished second and third respectively in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes last season, when two noses separated the first three horses home.
Trained by Karl Burke, 20/1 chance Lord Shanakill was forced to miss his intended seasonal debut in the Greenham Stakes (Eng-III) at Newbury due to a high temperature. His trainer Karl Burke is very happy with the colt’s condition ahead of the upcoming Classic.
The Leyburn handler said, “I am totally happy with his draw (10); I would rather be there than either very wide or right down stuck on the fence. Middle to low was my preference so I am happy enough with 10.
“The horse looks tremendous. He had his last pipe-opener this morning and will have a light canter tomorrow morning and then travel down," said Burke, who is entered in his first Two Thousand Guineas. "I would have liked to have had a prep run but that wasn’t to be. I am very, very happy with him and the ground should be perfect for him; there will be no excuses on that score."
Godolphin, successful with Mark Of Esteem (1996) and Island Sands (1999), is represented by Ashram, who finished a close sixth in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes after previously landing the Somerville Tattersall Stakes (Eng-III) at Newmarket on Oct. 2.
Ouqba, trained by Barry Hills, was supplemented at a cost of £30,000, having recorded an impressive success in his seasonal debut in the Listed European Free Handicap at Newmarket on April 15. Other horses to have run the trial races include the Roger Charlton-trained Cityscape, who finished the length runner-up in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury and Pure Poetry, from the Richard Hannon stable, who was third behind Delegator in the Craven, having previously triumphed in the Listed Easter Stakes at Kempton.
Trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam enjoyed a famous success in this contest with Rodrigo De Triano 17 years ago and is represented this year by Monitor Closely, who ran well when finishing a head runner-up on his first appearance of 2009 in the inaugural running of the 10-furlong £400000 Tattersalls Timeform 3-Y-O Trophy at Newmarket on April 15.
Henry Cecil trained back-to-back winners of this Classic with Bolkonski (1975) and Wollow (1976) and the master of Warren Place has one runner this year in On Our Way, successful over the course and distance in the Houghton Conditions Stakes in October.