With just two weeks to go until the first Classic of the season, there was still time for a big shake-up in the 2000 Guineas market in the past week.
Action from Newbury, Newmarket and Lexington, Kentucky all provided the stage for the contenders to stake their claim for the 1m showpiece.
Prior to the Craven Stakes last Thursday, Kool Kompany was a 100/1 shot for glory at Newmarket on May 2.
But Richard Hannon’s horse showed that a step up in trip was just the ticket to unlock more, after his juvenile season petered out in the autumn.
Leading from the front, Richard Hughes’ mount showed he still had that sprinters speed, but it didn’t run out, as he valiantly fought off all-comers to get his big white blaize home in front.
The performance was so taking that Ladbrokes cut him to 20/1 for Guineas success, in what was the first of three Hannon movers.
The Greenham Stakes gave the Marlborough team a chance to double up in the key trials with classy juveniles Ivawood and Estidkhaar representing them at Newbury.
Having performed at sprint distances for the whole of his two-year-old campaign, the former had to prove that he could cope with the step up in trip on Saturday.
Alas, it seems that he may not have the petrol capacity for the eight furlongs of the Rowley Mile, as he faded into a 4½l third.
That saw the antepost second favourite pushed out to 12/1 (from 5/1) for the race, although his handler still seemed adamant he would take his chance.
Stable-mate Estidhkaar fared much better, taking the race up from the front, he was only headed in the final 100 yards, and despite a battling finish failed to defeat Muhaarar (now 16/1 for the Guineas) by a neck.
That performance was all the more encouraging, and saw Sheik Hamdan’s horse cut from 20/1 to 12/1.
The final say in the Classic shake-up came nearly 4,000 miles away in Lexington, Kentucky.
Few milers will warm up for Newmarket’s big one on in a 5f allowance race at Keeneland, but Wesely Ward’s Hootenanny certainly looked in fine fettle.
Winning as a 1/10 favourite should, last year’s Windsor Castle Stakes winner at Royal Ascot showed the early zip we’d become accustomed to and had plenty left to see off his three rivals with ease.
Whether the undulating mile at Newmarket find his stamina reserves lacking is questionable, but for now he is a 20/1 shot (from 33/1) for glory in a fortnight.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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