The trainers in the most compelling form during the early rounds in Europe have been Andre Fabre and John Gosden, but how much will that count for in the first major confrontation of the season, Guineas weekend at Newmarket?
For ranged against them are mighty forces from the man who sits imperiously ahead of them all, the world number one, Aidan O’Brien.
Among four intended runners in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas on Saturday, the master of Ballydoyle sends out the hot favourite, last season’s European champion juvenile, Churchill. His six possibles for the Qipco 1,000 Guineas a day later include last season’s top European-trained 2-year-old filly, Rhododendron, who is also a hot favourite.
That O’Brien’s early-season runners haven’t been setting the world alight is not a surprise. Ballydoyle is renowned for starting the campaign slowly. O’Brien’s runners have a tendency to improve significantly on run number two (although neither Churchill nor Rhododrendron has raced in public so far in 2017).
But there are good reasons for confidence for supporters of Fabre’s Prix Djebel winner Al Wakair in the 2,000 Guineas and Gosden’s intended runner Daban on Sunday.
Newmarket trainer Gosden has already racked up six Group wins this year, which has pushed him back up to #8 in the TRC Global Rankings, and his 3-year-old maidens have been carrying all before them.
Fabre, who looks to have put the virus that dogged his Chantilly base well behind him in 2017, has climbed to #12 even before Monday’s victory of Cloth Of Stars in Europe’s first G1 of the year, the Prix Ganay at Chantilly, is considered by the TRC algorithm (it will fall into next week’s rankings update).
As the tables below show, however, all the trainers involved in the two British classics are up against a formidable force.
2,000 Guineas: where the trainers stand in the latest world rankings
Runners (and general current odds)
Al Wukair (4-1)
Saeed Bin Suroor
Dream Castle (16-1)
Barney Roy (4-1)
Law And Order (66-1)
1,000 Guineas: where the trainers stand in the latest world rankings
Entries (and general current odds)
Sea Of Grace (16-1)
Fair Eva (7-1)
Unforgettable Filly (25-1)
Queen Kindly (33-1)
Poet’s Vanity (16-1)
Ce La Vie (66-1)
Dream Start (80-1)
Urban Fox (40-1)