Source: Michael Ivan Burke via Twitter.
Churchill made a statement at the start of the flat season as he dominated at the 2000 Guineas, romping to victory at Newmarket. The Irish horse was strongly backed to emerge victorious from the first big meet of the campaign, and he delivered with a fine performance to edge out his nearest rivals.
The three-year-old’s next challenge came in Curragh at the Irish 2000 Guineas, and once again he rose to the occasion, putting in a stronger outing to finish comfortably ahead of the rest of the field. Now Churchill faces the task of competing at Royal Ascot and vying for the St James’ Palace Stakes crown, with the bay colt perceived as the leading contender for the title.
The three-year-old will have strong odds to win the race – punters can click here for a full range of bitcoin betting markets for the meet – given his impressive start to the flat season. However, there could be horses in the field that could rise up to put the bay colt under pressure in his bid to form a legacy this term. Here are some of the candidates that could challenge for the victory at Royal Ascot.
Source: Ascot Racecourse via Twitter.
Barney Roy put pressure on Churchill at the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket with a fine run, finishing in second place and only one length behind the bay colt. He lacked the pace down the final straight to edge out the eventual winner, but his trainers will have been buoyed by his performance ahead of Ascot.
Barney Roy had won his two previous races at the Greenham Stakes and the Maiden Stakes, and kept his momentum up with a strong outing in the Guineas, although it did not end in victory. The three-year-old has not been in action since his second-place finish at Newmarket; therefore, he should be fresh for a surge at his first major victory.
At the Irish 2000 Guineas, Thunder Snow was considered the main threat to Churchill, but could not muster the pace to beat the Irish horse. He started the meet on the front foot in the leading pack and maintained a steady pace throughout the race, but when Churchill upped the ante late in proceedings, he could not match down his speed down the final furlong.
Thunder Snow’s trainer Saeed bin Suroor will have noted his charge’s failure down the straight, which ended the bay colt’s run of three victories on the bounce. He has experience on his side and jockey Christophe Soumillon will be determined to get over the line this time around with a stronger challenge to Churchill’s dominance.
Source: Racing Post via Twitter.
An outside candidate for the crown could be the American horse, although he failed to deliver in his last outing in Naas at the Stud Stakes, finishing in third place. Aidan O’Brien’s charge was considered the leading contender for the race, only to be narrowly beaten out by Texas Rock and Drumfad Bay.
Whitecliffsofdover did triumph at Newmarket in April at the European Free Handicap, winning by a comfortable margin ahead of a solid field, including Seven Heavens. Should the American horse be able to channel that underdog spirit once again and overcome Churchill in one of the biggest meets of the season.