Before a detailed look into the 1000 Guineas, let’s have a quick word about the first classic of the 2016 flat season. One could probably say the 2000 Guineas didn’t finish the way many would have foreseen it. Even though, hailing my own judgement, I called out Galileo Gold as a big runner as long as he handles the track. He clearly did!
Now, I still didn’t selected him to win, but that’s okay because as the world’s biggest Paco Boy fan I just get a thrill out of it solely on the emotional side of things. My beloved all-time favourite horse finally got his first Group 1 winner on the board as a sire. He stands for a small fee at Highclere Stud these days – this will hopefully see him getting some classy mares in the future.
Back to the 2000 Guineas winner, Galileo Gold. He didn’t have it all that easy from his draw, but Frankie gave him a peach of a ride. The horse travelled like a dream throughout and quickened in taking style. You got to be impressed! Next stop Derby? Maybe. Connections believe he could stay the much longer trip
I’m not in the same camp yet, have to see it to believe it. Let’s not forget Paco Boy himself was a star miler, but probably got the trip only because of the patience of his rider, Richard Hughes. In my book he was always a 7 furlong specialist, stretched out to the mile.
The red hot favourite Air Force Blue was brutally disappointing. “Probably overtrained” was the explanation from Aiden O’Brien. Maybe he simply didn’t trained on at all? I’ll give him another chance because in all fairness, when I saw him at the Curragh earlier this year, he looked like a bigger, stronger horse, ready to do some damage in top class company this year.
I loved the run of stable companion Air Vice Marshal. He ran a heck of a race and I expect him to come on dramatically for the run. Once he gets quicker ground I can see him definitely being up to win a big race this year.
Preview: 1000 Gunieas
It’s the fillies’ turn today. The ground has dried out further – we’ve got genuinely good conditions at Newmarket. Again it’s a red-hot favourite from the Ballydoyle camp greeting from the top of the market: Minding.
And rightly so. On her two year old form you can’t oppose her. You can’t! A two-times Group 1 winner, ready to go on any ground, proven to get the trip as well as handling the Rowley Mile. A big, scopey filly, she looked super at the Curragh at the end of March too.
But we’ve seen it only 24h ago, that all can count for nothing. The performance today is what matters. And we don’t know whether she has improved over the winter until we see her showing it on the race track. Also, with these fillies, things are less straightforward than with the colts. I got to oppose her given her super short price-tag, even though I readily admit I may look foolish in a couple hours time.
What else’s in the race? 15 other fillies! A big field, and look no further for exciting opposition than Mark Johnston’s Lumiere. Winner of the Chevely Park Stakes, she’s got talent and speed but should also prove to have enough stamina to get the mile. Only thing is, her dam hasn’t produced anything of note yet.
Aiden O’Brien’s second and third string aren’t taken lightly. Ballydoyle – the filly – took longer than expected to hit full stride last season but finished the year on a high note landing a big Group 1 in France. She looked not quite as good as Minding when the two meat in the Moyglare, but it’s far from impossible that she’s able to turn the form around.
What I don’t like, and I said the same about Air Force Blue yesterday, is the tongue-tie, applied for the first time. There is often a reason for this, and it can be an indicator for some sort of a breathing problem. Doesn’t have to be, but can be and I’d be cautious.
Alice Springs is the least fancied of Aiden’s, though I like her allot! She was busy in the second half of 2015, a bit an unlucky runner-up in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf but clearly talented, scopey frame and there wasn’t much wrong with her return earlier this month; a fair third at Leopardstown in a Guineas trial. In fact it looked a lovely pipe opener in my eyes.
That day, on bottomless ground, it was difficult to make up ground from behind so the bird was flown early on but Alice Springs stayed on nicely. The mile trip doesn’t pose any concern, but the good ground is something she’ll definitely like.
Nell Gwyn winner Nathra is an exciting prospect. She has a run under her belt, has clearly trained on and is open to further improvement. Plus I really loved the way she cruised through the field in the Nell Gwyn, gliding through like a hot knife through butter. But you wonder whether a hotly contested mile is a bit too far for her stamina wise?
The Nell Gwynn looks a key trial nonetheless. Robanne stayed on late in third after being pretty badly outpaced from over three furlongs out. She gives the impression of a filly crying out for a trip. Mix And Mingle was right there too, finished 4th but looked outpaced as well and very much laboured. Both don’t strike me as Guineas winners.
Jim Bolger had plenty of placed runners but no winners for quite some time now. He’s due to win one pretty soon. Can Turret Rocks be the one? She was a smart juvenile – winner of the Group 2 Marry Hill and runner-up to Ballydoyle in the Prix Marcel Boussac. Her current rating puts her right in the mix here, although she’s certainly not a flashy type.
Whether French raider Midweek can transfer her best to drying Newmarket ground is debatable. I’d be concerned. Her best form came on very soft ground up until now. The same goes for Jet Setting. A fine winner of the Irish 1000 Guineas trial, though on heavy ground. Her only other win also came on a very deep surface.
I should mention speedy Zoffany daughter Illuminate. Already a multiple Group winner over 6f, she wasn’t disgraced at the Breeders Cup when stepping up to a mile. That day she seemed to hit a wall in the closing stages and I find it hard to see her getting the trip.
Verdict: On last years form it’s hard to look past Minding. But she is short enough to take her on, particularly with equally exciting stable mate Alice Springs, who certainly overpriced at around 20’s.
I do like Nathra a lot, though the drying ground and step up in trip is a concern and making a second selection here against the hot favourite I prefer the Bolger filly Turret Rocks. She probably gets further in time and seems very much one paced, but at the same time she’s tough and genuine and can outrun her price tag of 25/1.