Sunday, June 2, 2024

2,000 Guineas rivals Coroebus and Native Trail prepare to do battle again at Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot
Going to the wire: Royal Ascot St James’s Palace Stakes

Newmarket’s headline race of its flat season – the 2,000 Guineas – was all about the head-to-head battle between Coroebus and Native Trail.

Native Trail proved to be the red-hot favourite before the race, but stablemate Coroebus upset the applecart to win the Qipco 2,000 Guineas in style in front of the watching Suffolk crowd.

The Charlie Appleby-trained star stayed on impressively during the final furlong, demonstrating the full package of stamina and speed. However, Native Trail will get a second bite at the cherry soon enough, with the pair expected to enter the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot 2022. Coroebus was immediately installed as the odds-on pre-race favourite, with Native Trail priced between 5/1 and 6/1 with most bookies.

This race is one of several Group 1 races staged at Royal Ascot. With so many illustrious sprinters booked to appear at the Berkshire racecourse, it encourages most bookmakers to launch Ascot free bet promotions to raise the profile – if it were needed – of their betting markets ahead of the pinnacle of the British flat racing season.

Native Trail and Coroebus were first and second favourites for the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, with Coolmore’s Luxembourg rated third favourite. But the Guineas was all about the Godolphin-owned horses. Appleby admitted post-race that he and the Godolphin stable had “two lovely chances” to win at Newmarket and so it proved, with a one-two finish.

According to Appleby, jockey James Doyle was told to hold Coroebus back until the latter stages of the race, before letting him fly thanks to his “electric turn of foot”. The win landed Doyle his first British Classic in front of the people of Suffolk.

Native Trail overcame the disappointment of finishing second at Newmarket by going on to land the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh. It marked an impressive feat for Appleby, who became only the second trainer to win the English, French and Irish 2,000 Guineas in the same season – all of which helps to whet the appetite for when Coroebus and Native Trail lock horns again at Royal Ascot.

There is a feeling in some sections of the racing industry that Native Trail remains the better horse out of the two and was dealt a comparatively poor draw at Newmarket, which handed Coroebus the upper hand on the day.

Who else is in line to feature in the St James’s Palace Stakes?

One of the most intriguing movers in the ante-post market for the St James’s Palace Stakes is the William Haggas-trained My Prospero.

The son of Iffraaj demonstrated impressive skills to overcome Reach For The Moon in the Coral Heron Stakes at Sandown. Reach For The Moon – who is owned by Her Majesty the Queen – may have had Frankie Dettori on board but had no answer to My Prospero and jockey Tom Marquand, who planned their attack in the final furlong with expert execution.

My Prospero won at Newbury in April and is certainly in great form over the one-mile trip. As for Reach For The Moon, he looks better suited to a slightly longer trip. My Prospero’s ante-post price has been slashed with most UK bookies from 20/1 to 9/1.

Haggas’ other top prospect is Maljoom, who arrives fresh from success in the German Guineas Classic. Maljoom will arrive at Royal Ascot with a 100% record; while his latest Group Two success at Cologne has further served to create a narrative of Appleby vs Haggas.

The St James’s Palace Stakes has long been the showcase for Europe’s finest three-year-old colts and this year looks set to be no different. The Appleby vs Haggas contest will arguably be the race of the week for many Royal Ascot fanatics, but it’s a case of ‘watch this space’ in the ante-post markets.

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