With the turning of the Flat turf season, race fans take stock of racing's highs and lows, reflecting on what the future may hold. Truth be told, our sport of kings offers a wealth of stories. We have most likely seen future Classic race winners – two-year-olds transformed with patience, love & time to peak as specimens for a given day, literally, worth their weight in gold.
The 2000 Guineas is the first of five British Classics.
On the 30th April 2016 Newmarket's Rowley Mile will crown a champion racehorse.
Who do you have your money on?
Racing over one mile, this Group 1 contest is open to both colts and fillies.
This first Classic race of the season is often noted as a stepping stone for the elusive Triple Crown (2000 Guineas, Derby, St Leger). Did you know that the last Triple Crown champion was seen in 1970? Nijinsky, trained by Vincent O'Brien and ridden by Lester Piggott.
In 2012 Camelot was foiled by Encke, when second in the St Leger at Doncaster.
The 2000 Guineas was introduced by the Jockey Club in 1809.
It was won by a colt named Wizard.
Interestingly, trainer Tom Perren and jockey Bill Craft also won the inaugural running on the 1000 Guineas some five years later in 1814.
Wizard, a chestnut son of Sorcerer, didn't race at two but won seven of his ten races at Newmarket. He finished runner-up in the Derby but beat his conqueror, Pope, in a match race one year later when racing over 1m 2f for a prize of 200 guineas. Astonishingly, Wizard ran over distances ranging from 5 ½ furlongs to 4 miles 1 ½ furlongs when a five-year-old stallion. His earnings totalled 3850 guineas.
He was sent to stud at Elmsal Lodge, after becoming lame on his final race at his beloved Newmarket. He died in 1813, aged seven, in a tragic accident.
With such a vast history, many incredible thoroughbred horses have won this race.
Who is your favourite?
For many it will be Sir Henry Cecil's super star Frankel, who literally left his opposition standing in 2011.
Who can forget such modern-day talents: Dancing Brave (1986), Nashwan (1989), Zafonic (1993), Mister Baileys (1994), Rock Of Gibraltar (2002), George Washington (2006), Henrythenavigator (2008), Sea The Stars (2009) & Camelot (2012).
Last year saw Aidan O'Brien's victor Gleneagles, his 7th winner, only equalled by John Scott, who brings this race into context with winners Meteor (1842) – The Marquis (1862).
Mister Baileys (1994) won in the fastest time 1m 35:08.
Jockey Jem Robinson achieved the most wins with 9 victories: Enamel (1825) – Flatcatcher (1848)
Sue Magnier is the leading owner with 8 wins: Entrepreneur (1997) – Gleneagles (2015)
Rockavon (1961) won at the biggest odds - 66/1.
Fewest runners – 1829 & 1830. Just two
In 1956 Gilles de Retz won for trainer Helen Johnson Houghton. However, the Jockey Club did not allow women to hold trainers' licences at that time so officially he was trained by Charles Jerdein.
In 1980 Nureyev finished first but was relegated to last after a stewards' inquiry.
Who will win in 2016?
There is little doubt Aidan O'Brien will play a strong hand.
Air Force Blue is priced odds on with a number of bookmakers.
This American bred son of War Front cost $490,000 at the yearling sales. However, this bay colt has already paid his way with four two-year-old victories totalling prize earnings of £566,265. A narrow win on debut then saw a bold show when runner-up to Buratino at Royal Ascot in the Coventry Stakes (Group 2). He followed that performance with a trio of Group 1 victories taking the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (IRE), National Stakes (IRE) & Dewhurst Stakes (GB).
The horse to beat.
The bookmakers have decided it's a one-horse race.
With those in opposition priced 16/1 bar: 16/1 Emotionless (Charlie Appleby), 16/1 Massaat (Barry Hills), 16/1 Shalaa (John Gosden) & 20/1 Foundation (John Gosden) et al.
Can Air Force Blue be beaten?
If victory comes his way, Aidan O'Brien will re-write the history books – the most successful winning trainer of the 2000 Guineas since its inauguration in 1809.
From one Wizard to another.