The Return Of The Native

Native Trail |

Since Charlie Appleby took up the mantle at Moulton Paddocks in 2013, Godolphin's fortunes on British soil have been back on the rise and there is no greater exponent of that trend than Saturday's G1 QIPCO 2000 Guineas leading light Native Trail (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}). The way Appleby's runners have been sweeping up the Spring's black-type contests so far this term is reminiscent of the days when Henry Cecil's Warren Place was at its height and provides further evidence that Ballydoyle has a heavyweight of mutual prowess to trade blows with in these times. Native Trail, who may have been compromised if anything by having only seven furlongs to run over at two, looks the proverbial “good thing” that the yard's Pinatubo (Ire) (Shamardal) turned out not to be in this two years ago.

Simon Rowlands, in his excellent “Sectional Spotlight” feature on, is clear as to the hot favourite's advantage over his peers. “What sets him apart most is [a] giant stride, of a magnitude usually seen only in champions,” he stated in his most recent piece, having measured it at “a peak of 27.3 feet when 24.5 feet is the global average for flat horses”. He calls this “monster territory” and that is what the other 14 Guineas pretenders are up against.


Leading The Chase

OK, so what gets near the huge-striding royal blue colossus? Maybe Ballydoyle's G1 Vertem Futurity Trophy winner Luxembourg (Ire) (Camelot {GB}), who with his similarly unbeaten tag is at least a worthy opponent. His electric finishing surge in a weak-looking renewal of the G2 Beresford S. provoked memories of the race's recent winners Sea the Stars (Ire), St Nicholas Abbey (Ire) and Saxon Warrior (Jpn) and he is undoubtedly the chief threat to Native Trail. Aidan O'Brien has taken on clear division-leaders Xaar (GB), Dubawi (Ire) and New Approach (Ire) in the past and managed to subdue them in this, so he knows more than most what it takes to down champions not hailing from the Rosegreen pantheon. There is every chance Luxembourg is a rare talent. Professional but not scintillating at Doncaster, he gave us a glimpse of his material in the Beresford where it was notable how old hand Seamie Heffernan reacted. Not renowned for his tendency to hype, he was abuzz in the winner's spot on that occasion.


According To Ryan

Another who errs on the side of caution when in analysis, Ryan Moore's unspoken gestures are often the ones to focus on and it is surely the case that almost nobody expected him to side with Point Lonsdale (Ire) (Australia {GB}) over Luxembourg. Famously a man of few words, his Betfair blog can be read as a subtle warning. “We expect him to make his presence felt,” he said of the Westerberg flag-bearer as he prepares to halt Team Godolphin's momentum. Interestingly, he had insight to offer on the speed aspect of the race, Perfect Power (Ire) (Ardad {Ire}). “I think the faster 2-year-olds were some way inferior to their staying counterparts,” he states.


The Coroebus Dilemma

Godolphin's burgeoning talent Coroebus (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) is here very much on merit, but seems to be viewed as a longer-term prospect in the shadow of Native Trail and this education will not be lost on him. If he had one major weakness at two it was his painful honesty, seen most tellingly as he ripped off passing halfway in the G2 Royal Lodge S. before being eventually dragged back by Royal Patronage (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}). Held on to for longer over the same course and distance in the G3 Autumn S., the bay who bears a resemblance to his sire has significant ground to make up on Native Trail on every score and it will be James Doyle's task to play the waiting game drawn as far away from his stablemate as is possible.


Winter Bloomers

Few would have predicted that Eydon (Ire) (Olden Times {GB}) and Checkandchallenge (GB) (Fast Company {Ire})–from contrasting ends of the ownership and training spectrum in Prince Faisal and Roger Varian and Andrew Hetherton and William Knight respectively–would be live Guineas outsiders when making their all-weather debuts in the colder months. The former was beaten in a Newcastle novice Feb. 19 before taking a huge leap forward in the nine-furlong Listed Feilden S. at Newmarket, while the race's fairytale horse Checkandchallenge was all style in Newcastle's Listed Burradon S. David Egan rates Eydon, whose state of wellbeing has forced connections' hands into putting him in this picture. “We went a slow pace in the Feilden, he had to show a lot of speed to get into the race and he did everything with ease.”

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