Ivawood untroubled as top 2000 Guineas candidate at early stage

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While the early 2015 Derby market is dominated by Aidan O’Brien and the Irish, the early 2000 Guineas candidates have a much more British flavour about them.

Undoubtedly the standout amongst this year’s two-year-olds is Ivawood. He put in the performance of Newmarket’s July meeting when storming clear of some top opposition in the July Stakes. He then followed up at Glorious Goodwood in the Group 2 Richmond Stakes, taking his record to three from three.

You have to go back to 2007 for the last time a trainer won back-to-back renewals of this Classic, but with this horse Richard Hannon has a top chance to follow up Night of Thunder’s win in May.

One word of caution about the 8/1 favourite is that his sire Zebedee, top class though he was, never raced further than 6f, and was retired as a juvenile.

Some doubts about his son’s stamina to see out a mile could be brought up on that basis, but with Ivawood’s dam staying 1m2f no problem, a sense of balance is provided.

He deserves his place at the head of the market, and could be a short price on the day if he continues his improvement.

While the Hannon charge has shown plenty on track, Faydhan has had just one outing to date. But what an outing it was for John Gosden’s colt, who was purchased for a whopping £500,000 as a yearling.

Running green throughout his Haydock debut, Paul Hanagan’s mount took a while to get going, but when it clicked, he asserted impressively. Six lengths back in second that day was Dutch Masterpiece, a cosy winner at Glorious Goodwood in his subsequent contest.

But as taking as his debut performance was, a price of 10/1 doesn’t appeal at this stage. And until the Sheikh Maktoum-owned colt mixes it with the best, should be left well alone.

It wouldn’t be a Classic antepost market without an Aidan O’Brien representative, and in Highland Reel, he looks to have real live candidate.

He proved a mile to be no problem at all when routing a semi-decent field by 12l at Galway, and could be the Irish master’s first string come the day.

A speedy winner of the Vintage Stakes, he certainly doesn’t look like he will be tapped for toe.

The only thing that would put us off investing at the current price of 10/1 is with the sheer number of possibilities the Ballydoyle stable has, you never know which of his charges will take their chance.

Royal Ascot winners The Wow Signal and Richard Pankhurst both priced at 20/1 warrant a mention as potential value options.

The former had subsequent Group level performer Jungle Cat 20l behind him on debut and followed that up with a nice win in the Coventry Stakes, a regular route for Guineas candidates.

Richard Pankhurst meanwhile, made a less auspicious start, only managing fourth in his maiden, before improving sufficiently to claim the Chesham Stakes at the Royal meeting. More progress will be needed from him.

Many people won’t want to put their money on an 8/1 shot nine months before the event, but at the moment Ivawood is the best bet to claim glory at HQ.

All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.