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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Fabre's fabulous form fans Guineas optimism for Al Wukair

Al Mukair gains an impressive victory in the Prix Djebel
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Andre Fabre continued his domination of French Group races with a Monday afternoon double and warned his rivals he expects to be right in the shake-up in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas this weekend.

The 27-time champion trainer has had an extraordinary run in 2017, even by his own high standards, and the wins of Jimmy Two Times and Cloth Of Stars at Saint-Cloud mean he has landed nine Pattern races in France already this season.

One of those victories came with Al Wukair's impressive last-to-first success in the Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte, which catapulted the colt to the forefront of Newmarket Classic betting.

And in-form Fabre anticipates a big run from the unbeaten colt in a race he has won with Zafonic and Pennekamp.

The trainer said on Monday: "Al Wukair did his final piece of work before the 2,000 Guineas this morning and I was happy with everything. I'm quite confident he'll be in the first three on Saturday." 

Fabre has had only two runners in the 2,000 Guineas this century but had Territories finish second two years ago.

He added: "I gave Al Wukair quite a light two-year-old campaign on purpose as my horses had a little problem with a virus last season, so I didn't want to force them. I have always thought of Al Wukair as a horse for Newmarket.

"The ground is not a worry for him as he has won on soft and it was on the fast side for the Djebel. He seems well balanced, so neither is the course a major concern. I've never have any complaints about Newmarket, which in my opinion is the best racecourse in the world."

While the track is not a concern, Fabre does harbour some doubts on the basis of the Al Shaqab-owned colt's inexperience.

He said: "I'm a bit concerned he wasn't a Group 1 winner as a two-year-old, something most Guineas winners have already achieved, including both of mine. His lack of experience is my concern. They are young horses and it’s new opposition."

Aidan O'Brien reported himself pleased with the form of long-time favourite Churchill, who has not run since landing a second juvenile Group 1 triumph in the Dewhurst last October.

"We're very happy with him," the trainer said on At The Races. "He's done everything very well. Anything we've asked him to do he's done and done very well, always.

"We haven't given him a run, so he hasn't been out, but he's been away. Donnacha [O'Brien] rides him every day and he seems very happy with him."

Stablemate Caravaggio was taken out of the race on Monday, and O'Brien told the Racing Post: "We've been thinking all along of sending him to the French Guineas. He'll be doing plenty later this week and we'll decide after he has his work done whether he'll travel to Deauville."

The Rowley Mile was watered last Friday and is likely to be irrigated again to prevent conditions getting any quicker than the prevailing good to firm.

Clerk of the course Michael Prosser said on Monday: "The forecast is largely dry between now and Saturday, although there's a little uncertainty about Thursday.

"In all likelihood we'll need to irrigate to complement the 2.2mm of rainfall we had overnight to maintain the course as it is. We'll reassess the forecast tomorrow morning and may well water the whole course again."

Qipco 2,000 Guineas, card, form and betting

I'm quite confident he'll be in the first three on Saturday, but I'm a bit concerned he wasn't a Group 1 winner as a two-year-old
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