Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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Aidan O’Brien targets a record ninth win in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and his third in the past four years when he saddles Gustav Klimt and Saxon Warrior at Newmarket on Saturday.
The pair is at the forefront of the betting for the £500,000 contest with the recent Leopardstown winner Gustav Klimt heading the market at 5-2 after impressing with the manner of his victory in the Ballylinch Stud 2000 Guineas Trial over seven furlongs.
Gustav Klimt, the winner of the last three of his four starts, may benefit for the run and prove too good for his rivals; while inflicting a first defeat on stablemate and 2017 Racing Post Trophy winner Saxon Warrior (4-1) who is unbeaten in three starts.
“We would have liked to have given previous winners a prep run but until this year we never had a race in Ireland that was suitable,” O’Brien said. “This is the first time we had the option of seven furlongs at Leopardstown. “For us, the Craven is too close and maybe the race in Newbury [Greenham] is a little bit close as well. And then we had a Guineas trial at Leopardstown over a mile, which is too far, and the Gladness is against older horses and too tough.
“So up until now we’ve never had a prep. I suppose our previous winners were good two-year-olds and they had done plenty and learnt plenty.”
Gustav Klimt showed great acceleration to beat three rivals at Leopardstown on his belated return to the fray. A minor setback had scuppered his missed intended engagements last autumn.
“We were anxious to get a run into Gustav Klimt as he had not run since Newmarket (when winning the Group 2 Superlative Stakes) in the middle of the summer,” O’Brien said “We would have liked to have run him in the Dewhurst to find out a little bit more about him, so were a little bit in the dark.
“It was soft ground, very heavy really, and probably not ideal but we felt we needed to run him. We always thought he would prefer better ground and he did well to quicken in the ground. “Ryan [Moore] rode him in the July meeting [at Newmarket] last year and was very, very full of him. You are never sure, but we were delighted with his run in Leopardstown. We think and hope he’s in good form.”
Saxon Warrior was ante-post favourite over the winter, having signed off his two-year-old career with victory in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October. He has not run this year and his trainer says racegoers will see a different specimen.
“We’ve probably never had a horse to change so much over winter as he has – he’s turned into a monster of a horse – big, powerful and strong,” O’Brien said.
“He’s going to run a long way off his two-year-old weight but his work is very nice and we are very happy with him. We think he will get further than a mile.
“It will be a nice place to start him and we look forward to him for the rest of the year. He looks a very unusual horse at the moment in how much he has changed from two to three, but we have to start somewhere.”
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