Toronado fits the profile of an English 2,000 Guineas winner perfectly and, therefore, represents the value in the first English Classic of the 2013 thoroughbred racing season.
Jim Bolger’s Dawn Approach has been the 2013 English 2,000 Guineas favourite since winning the Coventry Stakes during the Royal Ascot meeting in June 2012 but the Godolphin acquisition does not match one of the key race trends.
Sixteen of the last 17 English 2,000 Guineas winners had contested fewer than six races before taking out the Group One contest over one mile at Newmarket. Dawn Approach had six runs as a two-year-old, winning all of them including a couple of Group Ones – the National Stakes at The Curragh and the Dewhurst Stakes at the home of British horse racing.
It would be ridiculous to say that Dawn Approach cannot win the English 2,000 Guineas because he had one too many races as a juvenile. However, there are other reasons why one should be looking to take on the hot favourite, including his lack of a prep run and the harsh recent Irish winter.
No-one really knows how much Dawn Approach has improved from two to three – not even Bolger and his stable staff – and the Irish trainer has spoken about how the weather in his neck of the woods has not been ideal in terms of getting horses ready to produce their best form first time out.
Dawn Approach is entitled to head the English 2,000 Guineas market based on his two-year-old performances but, at odds of around 11-8, he is opposable, particularly because the second favourite, Toronado, meets all the key criteria.
On the breeding side of things, all of the last 14 English 2,000 Guineas winners were sired by a Group One winner and all of the last 22 English 2,000 Guineas winners were sired by stallions with a Racing Post stamina index at least 8.0.
Toronado is a son of the impressive English Derby and Irish Derby winner High Chapparal, who won a total of six Group One races and whose Racing Post stamina index is 10.3.
With regards to past form, 12 of the last 14 English 2,000 Guineas winners had won on their debut as a two-year-old, 13 of the last 14 English 2,000 Guineas winners had won over either seven furlongs or one mile, 15 of the last 16 English 2,000 Guineas winners had contested a Group race and, as mentioned before, 16 of the last 17 English 2,000 Guineas winners had contested fewer than six races.
Toronado is unbeaten in four starts, all of them over seven furlongs or one mile, and he has won two Group contests.
And finally, there is recent form to consider. All of the last 17 English 2,000 Guineas winners finished in the first three last time out, with 14 of them placing first.
Toronado took out the Craven Stakes at Newmarket on his seasonal reappearance, beating a quality field by four and more lengths in a faster than average time. Several horse racing analysts are questioning the value of the Craven Stakes form but handicapper Dominic Gardiner-Hill has gone on the record with how impressive he thought Toronado was in defeating Havana Gold, Dundonnell and Tawhid comfortably.
The 2013 English 2,000 Guineas does look like a race between Dawn Approach and Toronado, with the latter preferred at the odds. Punters have been trying to find some value down the list and have latched on to Garswood and Mars. Garswood has not won a Group race and Mars, well, his only start was in a Dundalk maiden on an all-weather surface. It would one of the greatest training feats of all time if Aidan O’Brien saddled Mars to win the 2013 English 2,000 Guineas.
The weather forecast is such that Newmarket officials are expecting that the 2013 English 2,000 Guineas will be run on either good or good-to-firm going, with the likelihood being that fast-ground horses will have their ideal surface.
It is worth noting, therefore, that Dawn Approach has not run on going firmer than good, whereas Toronado’s Craven Stakes victory was on a surface rated as good to firm.
Also of significance is that Toronado’s trainer, Richard Hannon, has sent out the 2013 winners of several English 2,000 Guineas trials so his yard is in fine fettle.