The 20/1 2,000 Guineas alternative to Air Force Blue
Aidan O’Brien has had no shortage of superstar two-year-olds this century.
High Chaparral was multiple Group 1 winner which included an Epsom Derby and two Breeders’ Cup Turf successes, Rock Of Gibraltar triumphed in seven consecutive Group 1 contests, St Nicholas Abbey won the Coronation Cup at Epsom in three successive years and Camelot almost completed a legendary Triple Crown, having to settle for second in the St Leger after victories in the 2000 Guineas and Derby.
Given the list of superstars to have passed through the yard of O’Brien, the fact that Air Force Blue has been declared the best two-year-old he has ever trained are words that must be taken seriously.
Judging by the betting for the 2016 2,000 Guineas, Air Force Blue needs to do little more than turn up at Newmarket to add to his three Group 1 successes from last season. He is the 4/5 favourite.
When it comes to attempting to uncover alternatives, famous tipster Tom Segal has opted for Buratino, who remains the only horse to date to beat Air Force Blue.
This was in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, but positions were reversed at the Curragh soon after. If the ground is good to firm at Newmarket, like it was at Ascot, Buratino is a challenger.
However, the most lively bigger-priced entry in the 2,000 Guineas betting has to be Blue De Vega, who looks a horse of untapped potential.
Michael O’Callaghan is considered one of racing’s most up-and-coming trainers with his first Group-level victory arriving when Blue De Vega was a comfortable winner at Leopardstown last time.
This was the horse’s first run in the colours of Qatar Racing, who bought him after a dominant maiden success at Naas. Blue De Vega made that jump into Group 3 class with the minimum of fuss and another leap into top-level company is not unrealistic.
He travels strongly, has a serious turn of foot, has looked as though he will stay 1m based on his pair of 7f victories and has been aimed at the Guineas.
Blue De Vega looks a monster 20/1 to win the 2,000 Guineas, especially as his lack of racing compared to others in the field indicates that Callaghan may not have shown his full hand as to how talented the three-year-old is.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.