Source: AtTheRaces via Twitter
Churchill lived up to the high expectations placed upon him ahead of the 2000 Guineas, delivering a victory at Newmarket. The bay colt was widely touted to triumph at the race, having recorded victories in his previous five races.
The three-year-old trailed initially at the start, but found his form to track the leaders before taking control of the meet down the stretch, producing a strong finish to win by a length.
Churchill will now look to dominate the field for the rest of the flat season, with the most prestigious races in the term still to come this year – with the Epsom Derby and Ascot on the horizon.
However, one of his first tasks will be to continue his winning run at the Dante Stakes. Past great champions have enjoyed success at the venue, with the bay colt determined to match the triumphs of the illustrious competitors such as Golden Horn.
Aidan O’Brien has managed the Irish horse’s workload well over the past year, with his race at the 2000 Guineas his first action in eight months.
As a result, the three-year-old should be well rested for the challenges ahead as race meetings will come thick and fast with not a great deal of recovery time between.
Churchill came through those tests last season with ease, reeling off five victories on the spin. The quality of his opponents will provide a thorough assessment of his credentials, but if the Irish horse continues to elevate the standard of his performances, he could have a very successful season.
The bay colt will be the leading candidate for the Espom Derby and other upcoming meetings until another competitor challenges his dominance. The Winners Enclosure will be offering the best daily tips on all of the most important races over the summer – including the Derby – and Churchill’s aforementioned claims mean he is likely to feature in the site’s selection for this race, despite stiff competition from several other interesting runners.
One of those runners is Barney Roy, who provided a stern test of Churchill at Newmarket and will be vying to dislodge him from the winners’ circle in their next outing. Richard Hannon’s charge had only two races under his belt before competing at the 2000 Guineas, but was only narrowly edged out by his rival.
Source Richard Hannon via Twitter
The three-year-old made his debut at the Maiden Stakes at Haydock Park last September and put in an impressive performance to claim the victory, beating out his nearest challenger – Fujaira Bridge – by three-and-a-half lengths.
After a lengthy break he returned to action in the Greenham Stakes and after a steady start Barney Roy upped the ante. He pulled away from a talented field, including Dream Castle, defeating his nearest competitor by two lengths as he eased over the line.
Although his race at the 2000 Guineas ended in defeat, his performance was encouraging for only his third outing. He lost to Churchill by only a length – which will give Hannon along with jockey James Doyle confidence that the Bay Colt can match the pace of the Irish horse.
Al Wukair is another fledgling horse that could make a move to keep Churchill down over the summer. Trained by Andre Fabre – the three-year-old enjoyed a successful start to his career at the Listed Stakes with a comfortable win by one-and-three-quarter lengths.
Fabre’s charge made it back-to-back wins in his second outing at the Djebel Stakes at Maisons-Laffitte. Starting as favourite was able to ease to victory over a limited field, although it was still a strong sign for the Irish horse’s prospects at the 2000 Guineas.
Source: Al Shaqab Racing via Twitter
On his debut on English soil, Al Wukair produced a fine run to match the pace of Churchill and Barney Roy, only to be let down by his finish down the stretch with the Bay Colt powering away from the rest of the field to take the victory.
The race would have been a learning curve for Fabre and jockey Gregory Benoist, with both men now aware of the challenge of toppling Churchill this season.
Churchill has had the perfect start to his campaign to dominate the flats this term. The Irish horse has proven that he has the ability and strength to rise to the occasion to claim big victories.
With the Epsom Downs, Ascot and Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe on the horizon – the Bay Colt will need to harness that quality, especially with the talent on show in the rest of the field.