COROEBUS (123+) led home a glorious Godolphin one-two in the first classic of the season proving just too strong on the day for stablemate and favourite Native Trail, who lost nothing in defeat in what I expect to prove a very good renewal of the Group 1 Qipco 2 000 Guineas.
Charlie Appleby’s duo were split by the width of the track in terms of the draw but there was just three quarters of a length between them at the line.
The evidence of the weekend suggests Coroebus enjoyed the better stall position, although he also travelled into the race in smoother fashion than Native Trail (121+) before quickening sharply in the seventh furlong where he was a length quicker.
Ultimately, there was less than the difference in the penultimate furlong between the pair over the final three furlongs as Native Trail posted the fastest final furlong of the field to cover the ground from the three-furlong marker in 35.67secs, just 0.13secs slower than Coroebus who stopped the clock at 35.54secs moments before.
On another day and maybe another track the result could be different if the pair lock horns again.
Luxembourg (118+) may have lost his unbeaten record but his reputation as an exceptional colt remains intact given how he overcame the misfortune of clipping heels just after leaving the stalls.
Admittedly, Aidan O’Brien’s colt had moved onto the quarters of Coroebus passing the two-furlong marker. However, the effort of reaching a challenging position took its toll in the final furlong, through which he was the slowest of the principals. The son of Camelot stopped the clock for his closing sectional at 35.69secs.
The other run to highlight was that of Lusail (110+) who, like Luxembourg, made his challenge from too far back after ducking down as the stalls opened. The son of Mehmas also had to switch out from behind tiring rivals at a vital stage of the race although still posted a sub 13secs final furlong like the first three home.
William Buick gained compensation for his Guineas defeat in the Godolphin blue aboard King Of Time (110) who was a most impressive winner of the 0-95 handicap and looks to be a group horse masquerading as a handicapper.
Although the son of Kingman ran a slower overall time than the 2000 Guineas winner, which was seven lengths slower by my estimation, he clocked a superior closing sectional despite having to navigate around second-placed Bullet Force (96) to secure a clear run.
The clock stopped for the sectional time at 35.11secs so, although he would not have challenged the principals in the classic, there is every reason to believe he would have finished alongside Berkshire Shadow (110) with plenty left to offer as his jockey merely rode hands and heels through the closing stages.
The fastest closing sectional was posted by Khaadem (111) in the five-furlong Group 3 Palace House Stakes. Charles Hills’ gelding posted 34.34secs for his sectional as he just clung on from the fast-closing Existent (110). A place further back in third, Saint Lawrence (107), caught the eye with his finishing effort and is worth an interest when stepping up to six furlongs.
Blackrod (107) picked up where he left off last season with victory in the heritage handicap on the card and again impressed on the clock as did Ingra Tor (105+), who landed the concluding race on his handicap debut in a manner way ahead of his current rating.
The difference between the two races in overall race time is negated by the closing sectionals which saw Mick Channon’s speedster clock a time 0.61secs faster than Michael Dods’ four-year-old.