One of racing's old wives' tales, the one about the bigger the field, the bigger the certainty, will be fully tested on the Rowley Mile tomorrow. Nineteen horses are set to go to post for the 197th 2,000 Guineas and although the number of competitors is by no means a record " that came when Diolite beat 29 rivals in 1930 " it is well above the average of 14. The favourite, Dubawi, is as short as evens in some bookmakers' lists.
The unbeaten Godolphin contender will start at the shortest price since Xaar, 10-11 seven years ago. He finished fourth, and, in fact, the Guineas has not been a good one for market leaders recently. The only one to have won in the past 15 years has been another hot- shot, Zafonic at 5-6 in 1993. And when large fields are considered, the aged crones are clearly talking nonsense. On the 37 occasions when 19 runners or more have lined up, just five favourites have prevailed. They were Pretender, 3-1 in 1869; Mr Jinks, 5-2 in 1929; Blue Peter, 5-1 joint in 1939; Djebel, 9-4 in 1940; and To-Agori- Mou, 5-2 in 1981. And massed ranks have produced punters' nightmares like Mister Baileys (16-1), Tap On Wood (20-1), Bolkonski (33-1) and Rockavon (66-1).
Godolphin will be two-handed, with Satchem, who was trained last year by David Loder and Clive Brittain before joining the blues and will be ridden tomorrow by Kerrin McEvoy, accompanying Frankie Dettori's mount to the fray. 'I am really happy with Dubawi,' said his trainer Saeed Bin Suroor yesterday. 'He had his final work on Saturday, before he came back to Britain, and he is in really good form. Satchem is a tough horse who always seems to give his best.'
Aidan O'Brien, responsible for four of the past five beaten favourites (One Cool Cat, Hold That Tiger, Hawk Wing and Giant's Causeway), also sends a pair, Footstepsinthesand (Kieren …