05/06/2017 11:51AM

Churchill gives O'Brien his eighth win in English 2000 Guineas


Churchill made the most of a perfect trip under Ryan Moore to give trainer Aidan O’Brien his eighth win in the English 2000 Guineas on Saturday at Newmarket, as the connections of the second- and third-place finishers, Barney Roy and Al Wukair, were left wondering what might have been.

Hitting a dip in the course about a quarter-mile from the finish, Barney Roy, who had raced too keenly at various points, stumbled so badly that jockey James Doyle lurched forward in the saddle. Barney Roy picked himself up and continued on gamely between horses but came up a length short of Churchill. A neck farther behind was Al Wukair, who broke flatflooted and was steadied back to last at the start, eventually coming wide with a sustained run behind a slow pace in a good effort.

Meanwhile, Churchill and Moore tucked into a cozy spot along the inside rail and closer to the O’Brien-trained pacesetter, Lancaster Bomber, than the runner-up or third-place finisher. Churchill commenced his run about a quarter-mile out, made the lead a furlong from the finish, and while never displaying push-button acceleration, continued on stoutly along Newmarket’s uphill finish to pick up his 3-year-old campaign where he left off at 2 – with a Group 1 success.

Lancaster Bomber, the runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last fall, might have been aided by the slow tempo but stayed on well to finish fourth, just a head behind Al Wukair. Churchill ran one mile on good-to-firm turf in 1:36.61.

Owned by Coolmore, Churchill is by Galileo and out of the Storm Cat mare Meow. He finished third in his career debut a little less than a year ago but has since won six races in a row, ending his 2-year-old season with wins in the Group 1 National Stakes and the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes.

Churchill seems likely to go on to the Epsom Derby, while the second- and third-place finishers could await the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Earlier on the card, Seventh Heaven gave Moore and O’Brien another stakes victory with an easy five-length win in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes.