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QIPCO 2000 Guineas Preview: Australia can live up to the hype

A stellar renewal of the colt’s classic at Newmarket (15.50) in which Australia puts his reputation on the line against the uneaten duo of Kingman and Toormore.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Australia is the latest horse from Ballydoyle to carry the “best horse we have ever had” tag.

The 525,000 guineas yearling is bred in the purple, being by Galileo out of champion race mare Ouija Board.

He created a huge impression as a juvenile, showing marked improvement in each of his three runs.

After being a desperatly unlucky lose on his debut at the Curragh, Australia made amends to land a maiden at the same venue before putting in a scintillating performance to slam Free Eagle by six lengths in a Group 3 contest over a mile at Leopardstown.

Australia travelled powerfully throughout the contest before unleashing a potent turn of foot to scoot clear and beat Dermot Welds highly regarded inmate, who had been favourite for the Derby before the race, with consummate ease.

It was a performance which left a deep and lasting impression, and although Australia’s pedigree suggest middle distances will bring out the best in him the turn of foot he showed suggests that will not be inconvenienced by today’s mile trip.

His trainer certainly knows what is required to win the Group 1 contest having saddled six winners since 1998, and given how bullish O’Brien is about Australia I have to side with him.

The stable also saddle Coventry Stakes and Dewhurst winner War Command who should not be underestimated.

The son of War Frontis bidding to become the third horse in the last four years to complete the Dewhurst/Guineas double, and will relish the ground and trip.

However, the fact that Australia is rated far his superior suggests that he is likely to be playing for minor money.

The obvious pair standing in the way of victory for Australia are Kingman and Toormore.

Kingman heads the betting following an ultra-impressive win in the Greenham at Newbury when beating Night Of Thunder by 4 1/2 lengths.

After being held-up travelling strongly, the son of Invincible Spirit cruised into contention to take the lead entering the final furlong and showed an instant turn of foot to put the race to bed.

That was the third success in a row for John Gosden’s unbeaten colt, and he undoubtedly could be something really special.

However, he had a bone chip surgically removed from a joint in October, and that raises doubts in my mind as to whether Kingman will be effective on this track on fast ground as they enter the famous “dip” at the business end of affairs.

The only time Kingman has encountered quick going was on his second start in the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown, when he was far from impressive in beating Emirates Flyer by two lengths.

Toormore is a horse that had done nothing wrong in his career and boasts rock solid credentials going into this contest.

Richard Hannon’s colt was last season’s leading juvenile, and maintained his unbeaten record with a cosy success in the Craven Stakes over course and distance last month.

That experience over the course is a major plus, and the son of Arakan acts on the going, has a high cruising speed and turn of foot, as well as the servivces of Richard Hughes in the saddle.
Although he may not be as “flashy” as Australia and Kingman, Toormore knows how to get the job done and looks the type to expose any chinks in their armour.