The waiting and anticipation is now almost over with the first Classic of the 2012 Flat turf season, the £376,500 Group One QIPCO 2000 Guineas, now just hours away.
Due off at 3.10pm on Saturday (5 May) on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket, final declarations have been made and 18 colts are set to go to post in the famous mile contest.
John Hills will saddle Boomerang Bob in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and the Lambourn handler is looking forward to a good run from the son of Aussie Rules. Last season, Boomerang Bob won on his debut before finishing in the frame in Group contests at Royal Ascot and Chantilly. He reappeared in the Group Three Greenham Stakes over seven furlongs at Newbury on 21 April, when he was the length runner-up to fellow QIPCO 2000 Guineas aspirant Caspar Netscher.
Hills said: “Boomerang Bob seems in great form. We were very happy with his run at Newbury – it was his first run for a long time – so he should come on considerably. He is a lovely horse, and although we are going there as an outsider, we are in great shape, we like the ground and we are going to have a crack at it.
“I don’t think he is a better horse with cut in the ground, but we know he goes through it whereas some of the others may not, so we are not concerned about the going.
“He picked up an injury in July and wasn’t able to run in the second half of last season, so he ran a very good trial at Newbury under the circumstances. Obviously, it’s not a big gap between the trial and the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, but he seems in great form.
“He grew an inch over the winter, has a super temperament for the job and a terrific turn of foot. This is a tough race, but at the same time it’s a very open sort of race.
“He has a lot of speed, and although he can be keen, especially first time out, he does relax nicely in his races, so he will give himself every chance of getting the mile but you never know until you try.”
Camelot was champion two-year-old European colt in 2011 following his stunning victory in the Group One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and he is one of two runners for Aidan O’Brien along with Power, winner of the Group One National Stakes at the Curragh and runner-up on his final appearance of 2011 in the Group One Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Future Champions Day in October. O’Brien is seeking his sixth QIPCO 2000 Guineas success.
There is a third Irish-trained contender in Born To Sea. Trained by John Oxx, the son of Invincible Spirit is out of the outstanding broodmare Urban Sea making him closely-related to the brilliant 2009 2000 Guineas hero Sea The Stars. Born To Sea won impressively on his debut last season before finishing runner-up in the Group Three Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown in October.
France is represented by thee starters, Abtaal, French Fifteen and Hermival. The trio all contested the Group Three Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte on 5 April, with French Fifteen getting the better of Abtaal by a neck with Hermival a further length and a half back in third.
Trainer Richard Hannon, who has three 2000 Guineas winners to his name, saddles a quartet of runners – Bronterre, Coupe de Ville, Redact and Trumpet Major – while Beckhampton handler Roger Charlton has declared Top Offer, impressive when landing a maiden on his only start at Newbury last season and popular in the ante-post market over the winter months.
The QIPCO 2000 Guineas forms part of a seven-race card on day one of the QIPCO Guineas Festival, Saturday, 5 May, which also features the £100,000 Group Two Qatar Bloodstock Jockey Club Stakes (2.30pm) which has attracted eight runners including the 2011 Melbourne Cup victor Dunaden.
The £55,000 Group Three Pearl Bloodstock Palace House Stakes over five furlongs has attracted 18 sprinters, including last season’s Group One Nunthorpe Stakes heroine Margot Did.
The QIPCO Guineas Festival continues on Sunday, 6 May, when the highlight is the £376,500 QIPCO 1000 Guineas.