Greatest Losers of the 2,000 Guineas

Racing at Newmarket

As the headquarters of the flat racing game, it is fitting that Newmarket plays host to the opening Classic of the season. That prestigious event is of course the 2,000 Guineas, which takes place on a Saturday afternoon in late April or early May each year.

A win in this race ensures a place in the history books, with the likes of Frankel, Sea The Stars, and Camelot featuring on the recent roll of honour. However, it isn’t all about the winner. Here we look back at the 22 editions of the race from the current century, picking out those runners who weren’t quite up to the task on the day, but subsequently went on to prove their ability beyond any doubt.

5. 2004: Azamour

  • Trainer – John Oxx
  • Sire – Night Shift
  • Peak Career Rating – 128

2,000 Guineas Performance – 3rd

Held up way off the pace following a slow start, Azamour only really began to get going around three furlongs from home, by which stage Haafhd had kicked clear on his way to a success of just under two lengths. However, the John Oxx runner finished to notable effect, catching the eye of many observers when staying on well into third.

Subsequent Exploits

Going one place better when second in the Irish 2,000 on his next start, Azamour then re-entered the winner’s enclosure when mastering both his English and Irish 2,000 Guineas conquerors, Haafhd and Bachelor Duke, in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Ending his Classic season with a strong finishing effort to land the Irish Champion Stakes, he then added the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes to his haul as a four-year-old.

4. 2010: St Nicholas Abbey

  • Trainer – Aidan O’Brien
  • Sire – Montjeu
  • Peak Career Rating – 124

2,000 Guineas Performance – 6th

Following a perfect juvenile campaign, culminating in a win in the Racing Post Trophy, St Nicholas Abbey was sent off as the red-hot Even Money favourite for the 2010 Guineas. He held every chance as they came out of the dip, but simply didn’t find the required gears on the day, as the race fell to France and 33/1 shock winner, Makfi.

Subsequent Exploits

Following that disappointment, a setback resulted in the colt missing the rest of his Classic campaign. However, the patient approach of connections was ultimately rewarded, with the son of the Arc winner Montjeu, going on to win Group 1 events as a four, five, and six-year-old, on three different continents. Successes in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf and 2013 Sheema Classic added considerably to his near £5m in career earnings, whilst on the domestic front, he became the first horse to win three editions of the Coronation Cup.

3. 2007: Duke Of Marmalade

  • Trainer – Aidan O’Brien
  • Sire – Danehill
  • Peak Career Rating – 127

2,000 Guineas Performance – 4th

Sent off at 14/1 in 2007, Duke Of Marmalade wasn’t particularly well fancied but ran a solid if unspectacular race – staying on well enough to finish third in his group on the near side, but having no answer to the acceleration of Cockney Rebel, who came from last to first to register a 25/1 upset.

Subsequent Exploits

The phrase, solid but unspectacular, accurately sums up the remainder of this colt’s Classic campaign, as he finished placed three times without getting his nose in front. However, the son of Danehill was to prove an altogether different proposition when returning to the track as a four-year-old. Opening up with a first career Group 1 success in the Prix Ganay, he promptly rattled off another four on the bounce to land the Tattersalls Gold Cup, Princes of Wales’s Stakes, King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Juddmonte International.

2. 2010: Canford Cliffs

  • Trainer – Richard Hannon Snr
  • Sire – Tagula
  • Peak Career Rating – 127

2,000 Guineas Performance – 3rd

Three places ahead of St Nicholas Abbey in the 2010 edition was one of the most talented horses to hail from the yard of Richard Hannon Snr. Held up off the pace, Richard Hughes appeared confident heading into the final furlong and did conjure up a good finishing effort from his mount. However, Makfi had procured the first run, and Canford Cliffs would finish a never nearer than one-and-three-quarter length third.

Subsequent Exploits

Canford Cliffs was quick to make amends for that Newmarket near miss, when running out an impressive three-length winner of the Irish version of the race on his next start, before ending his campaign with similarly excellent victories in the St James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes. Kept in training at four, he slammed the field in the Lockinge and made it five Group 1 wins on the spin with a second Royal Ascot victory in the Queen Anne Stakes. Next up came a defence of his Sussex Stakes crown, where attempting to concede weight to a three-year-old going by the name of Frankel, proved to be an altogether impossible task.

1. 2000: Giant’s Causeway

  • Trainer – Aidan O’Brien
  • Sire – Storm Cat
  • Peak Career Rating – 126

2,000 Guineas Performance – 2nd

Arriving at Newmarket unbeaten in four career starts, it was no surprise to see the mount of Mick Kinane sent off as the 7/2 favourite for the 2,000 Guineas. Right up with the running from the off, the colt looked to have mastered his rivals when hitting the front up the stands side rail a furlong from home. Kieran Fallon had, however, ridden a perfectly judged waiting race in behind, coming with a surging run to hit the line three and a half lengths clear of the field.

Subsequent Exploits

Giant’s Causeway may not quite be the classiest colt on this list, but he was almost certainly the toughest, laying it all on the line in all 13 career starts. Never finishing outside of the first two during his career, the post-Guineas highlights of the “Iron Horse” consisted of Group 1 wins in the St James’s Palace Stakes, Coral-Eclipse, Sussex Stakes, Juddmonte International, and Irish Champion Stakes, before then going down by just a neck to Tiznow in an epic edition of the Breeders’ Cup Classic.