On the weekend Chelsea sealed the Premier League title, it was perhaps appropriate that GLENEAGLES landed the Flat season’s opening Classic, the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
A bizarre analogy, you might think. But Jose Mourinho’s side have had to counter recent accusations that they lack the entertainment wow factor and can be downright boring.
Similarly, Gleneagles has never been a flashy, spectacular colt to set the pulses racing. Even when he rattled off a hat-trick of Group successes as a two-year-old, including the Group One National Stakes, he did not suggest he was a superstar in the making.
However, like Chelsea, Aidan O’Brien’s son of the great Galileo is a solid, hardy, consistent functional type. What he lacks in frills, he more than compensates for with his iron constitution and consummate professionalism, so reminiscent of his dam’s half-sister, the brilliant Giant’s Causeway.
Time will probably tell that last Saturday’s Guineas was far from a vintage renewal. But Gleneagles travelled through the race conspicuously well before stamping his authority on it impressively in the final two furlongs.
As O’Brien freely admits, he rarely does much in front. But the colt is one for whom that laziest of phrases, “gets the job done”, favoured by so many post-race analysts on TV, was surely invented.
Victory emulated the feat of his full sister, Marvellous, who won the 1,000 Guineas on the same track. And although his stamina may stretch to 10f, it was no surprise to hear O’Brien describe Gleneagles as the best miler he’s had. He’s tailor-made for the trip.
As for those in behind at Headquarters, there were many more disappointments than hard-luck stories, and it will be back to the drawing-board for several ostensibly promising three-year-olds. What had appeared to be a good, open contest beforehand turned into a case of the obvious staring punters in the face.
While the 2,000 Guineas was all about one horse, the 1,000 Guineas the following day was all about two.
Given that LEGATISSIMO and LUCIDA pulled so far clear of the rest, I was surprised by the decidedly underwhelming reaction of many respected judges. I am sure both are top-class fillies.
Although she hadn’t come properly in her coat, it was obvious that Jim Bolger’s well-backed favourite had developed into a grand physical specimen from two to three. The daughter of Shamardal entered the race with the most persuasive CV and would surely have prevailed but for a less than straightforward run.
Awkward out of the gates, Lucida found herself in rear. When jockey Kevin Manning tried to make up the lost ground, the filly got too lit up for a furlong or so. And then, after Manning had chopped and changed his slot through the race, he felt the need to switch her round the whole field to the wide outside. Considering all that, she did remarkably well to surge clear and was desperately unlucky to be collared close home.
I have little doubt Lucida would not be beaten by Legatissimo again over 1m. But then again, we are unlikely to see the winner over that distance again for her pedigree suggests that a tilt at the Oaks at Epsom should be on the cards.
Those who felt Sunday’s drop in trip would be a Guineas negative had clearly not seen the way she travelled all over reliable, older yardsticks seven days earlier in a Listed contest at Gowran Park. Anchored quietly out the back by Ryan Moore here, she was similarly smooth, which is probably why Ballydoyle’s new number one jockey expressed reservations afterwards about her staying 12f. However, the dam is by Montjeu and a full sister to Ascot Gold Cup hero Fame And Glory, so we may as well throw away the Stud Book if she can’t.
David Wachman, a reserved but admirable trainer, deserves huge credit for the improvement he has induced from Legatissimo in such a sport space of time. Expect to hear much more of her, and the runner-up, as the season progresses. More Barcelona and Bayern Munich than Chelsea, I suspect!