Toormore tops entries for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket
Toormore heads a top quality 73-strong entry for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday 3 May.
Last Updated: 05/03/14 12:44pm
Trained last year by Richard Hannon senior, who has since retired and passed on his licence to his son, Richard junior, Toormore signed off for 2013 by landing the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh last September.
"He was in superb form when I last saw him two weeks ago and looked magnificent," said Tim Palin, racing manager of Toormore's owners, Middleham Park Racing.
"He has done exceptionally well over the winter. Richard Hughes always said that he was not your archetypal Richard Hannon-trained two-year-old but was more of a late maturing type and he has definitely filled out and strengthened.
"We were absolutely chuffed to bits that he was crowned Champion Two-Year-Old and the 2000 Guineas is firmly our number one target with him for the start of the season.
"I believe that the last three juvenile champions have all gone on to win the Guineas and Toormore has been placed at the top of the pile for a reason. They often describe the Guineas as the last two-year-old race of the season so you would have to be confident.
"We are leaning towards sending him straight for the Guineas but if Richard Hughes rode him in April and said that he needed a run, we might go for the Greenham Stakes [at Newbury on April 12] but probably only if the ground was not too soft so that he would not take too much out of himself. But a decision about a prep race is for a month's time rather than now.
"If at all possible we would like to establish him as the best miler of his generation. I don't see us diverging much away from a mile with him - I would say that that would be his optimum trip.
"He is very versatile, a gentleman of a horse, and in his three starts to date he has won coming from midfield, he has won from behind and he has won from in front."
Toormore's evolution into a Classic contender is something of a fairytale as he cost just £36,000 as a yearling and is owned by eight ordinary individuals from all over the country - three Yorkshiremen, one from Warwickshire, one from Essex, one from Bristol and a pair of police officers from London.
Other British-trained entries to catch the eye are Kingston Hill, the unbeaten winner of the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy; Astaire, hero of the Group 1 Vision.ae Middle Park Stakes; Outstrip, who ventured across the Atlantic in November to lift the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf; and the unbeaten John Gosden-trained ante-post favourite, Kingman.
From Ireland, War Command leads a powerful challenge from the six-time 2000 Guineas-winning trainer, Aidan O'Brien. War Command prevailed convincingly on his only two British starts of last season, the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and then the Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket - the race which has provided the following year's QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner twice in the last three years.
Overall, O'Brien can boast three colts who have yet to taste defeat (Adelaide, Agena and the Group 2 winner, Geoffrey Chaucer) within his 11-strong team. There are six other Irish-trained hopefuls, including the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes winner, Sudirman.
The international standing of the Guineas is further demonstrated by the presence of six French colts among the entries, headed by the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner, Karakontie, not to mention one from Spain, Noozhoh Canarias, who was runner-up in that Longchamp Group 1 contest.
The French contingent also includes Ectot, winner of the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud last November, taking to nine the number of horses entered that have already been successful at the highest level.