Appleby strongly represented in the 2000 Guineas Stakes but major threats come from O'Brien, both father and son

One of the most wide-open renewals of the G1 2000 Guineas Stakes (1600m) in recent times tops the eight-race simulcast menu from Newmarket on Saturday (1 May), with some powerful UK contenders needing to outrun a collective offensive of Irish-trained talent.

Run down the straight of the famous Rowley Mile course, it is the first Classic of the year and Godolphin’s locally-based trainer Charlie Appleby appears to have two serious chances of posting a first 2000 Guineas Stakes victory fielding, both Master Of The Seas and One Ruler.

And, along with the up-for-grabs nature of the 2021 race, number one rider William Buick needed hard thinking before plumping for this month's G3 Craven Stakes (1600m) winner Master Of The Seas ahead of One Ruler, who was arguably only eclipsed by Mac Swiney in the G1 Futurity Trophy (1600m) last October only because of the muddy ground.

"William asked some serious questions of Master Of The Seas in the Craven and he liked the response. I think that is what clinched it,” Appleby said.

But supporters of One Ruler - also with course and distance G3 winning form in last October's Autumn Stakes (1600m) - won't need to worry much as the equally accomplished James Doyle takes over, while the fact that the last six 2000 Guineas Stakes winners hadn't - like One Ruler - had an earlier run in the same year will also ease concerns of his supporters.

And let's not forget that retired former multiple champion jockey Kieren Fallon has been partnering One Ruler in most of his work in recent months, with the legendary rider regularly offering a very upbeat comment after dismounting the son of Dubawi.

Meanwhile, none of ten-times 2000 Guineas Stakes winning trainer Aidan O'Brien's candidates have competed since at least last November and the Irish maestro has reportedly had a particularly difficult challenge this time as to which of his two-year-old stars of 2020 should be directed towards Saturday's historic event.

With fast ground expected, O'Brien's Wembley looks a serious player. He hasn't the typical profile of a Guineas winner - his sole win coming in a 1473m maiden at Roscommon - but Wembley's October second to stablemate St Mark's Basilica in Newmarket's G1 Dewhurst Stakes (1400m) was an excellent effort especially as he finished strongest despite having to race wide and away from the favoured stand-side rail.

“He won't get much further but I'd say that he's a real miler, and we are very happy with what he has done over the winter,” O’Brien said of Wembley.

One place behind Wembley in the Dewhurst was Thunder Moon, trained by Aidan's son Joseph and, similar to the Galileo colt that his father trains, this son of Zoffany is also expected to be much better suited by Saturday's anticipated quick ground.

Previously, and on just his second career start, Thunder Moon found superb acceleration from a tricky position to land the G1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (1400m) at the Curragh.

“That was a very rough race but he was fast enough to win it, and easily. He's training well and we are excited,” (Joseph) O’Brien said.

Hong Kong Jockey Club  

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