Can Churchill win the Guineas? Oh yes
CHURCHILL is utterly deserving of his short price in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket this afternoon.
Aidan O'Brien's colt is a hot favourite for the first domestic Classic of the season, having last year been crowned champion two-year-old.
That said, there are plenty queuing up to take him on in the Guineas, not least because this season's race looks bang up to scratch.
The opposition will also point towards him having a first outing for 210 days, not to mention the fact he has never been the most electrifying of horses to watch in full flow.
Churchill is, however, a thoroughbred that is all about substance over style.
He does not win by far, but, by golly, does he get the job done.
The son of Galileo physically towered above most of his rivals during a juvenile campaign that saw him win five of his seven races, including the National Stakes at the Curragh and the Dewhurst at this track last autumn.
Such was his stature last year, Churchill perhaps lacks the scope to progress as much as some of the more unexposed sharp-shooters in the field.
But when you are as good as he is, having been there and done it already, that really ought not to be an issue.
And even if he is only slightly more forward than last season, that should be enough to win the Guineas.
Whether he ends up in the Derby is a cloudier issue, as he is not exactly a horse with a pedigree to suggest he should be winning those massive races over a mile-and-a-half.
That dream could still be realised, however, as he always seems to finish off his races with stacks left in the locker.
To that end, Churchill should get a mile at Newmarket doing proverbial handstands.
Perhaps the only issue might be a perceived lack of fitness after having been off the track for so long.
And though many Ballydoyle horses have clearly been in need of a run this spring, one can implicitly trust O'Brien to have Churchill as ready as he can be for the big day.
Eminent looked an outstanding talent when he won the Craven at this track last month and can chase the selection home, with accomplished Greenham scorer Barney Roy also expected to be on the premises.
O'Brien can trot off home with victory in the Dunaden Jockey Club Stakes courtesy of Seventh Heaven.
The dual Group One scorer looked the essence of vitality at Meydan in March when she was a fast-finishing second behind Jack Hobbs in the Sheema Classic.
This does not look as tough and she should have heaps to bring to the table this summer.
Kimberella could be a cracking price to win the Longholes Palace House Stakes.
Richard Fahey's seven-year-old has always been a good horse, but his new trainer seems to have got even more out of him since his transfer from the now-retired Dandy Nicholls.
The gelded son of Kyllachy has never won a Group race, but, even in spite of his age, he is clearly on the upgrade and will be trained to the minute for this assignment.
Other returning horses will have loftier ambitions in the summer, but an in-form, and hard-fit, Kimberella might well have the edge at this stage of the season.
Away from Newmarket, those who bank on Bogart can finally cash in when he runs in the six-furlong handicap at Thirsk.
Kevin Ryan's chestnut has, a little incredulously, not won since August 2013, but he was unlucky on his last start and is appealingly weighted on a career-low mark of 82.
Double: Seventh Heaven