Tag Archives: 2000 Guineas

Tuesday Racing – 9th May 2017

A nice winner with Shargiah (4/1) at Windsor today – the “lucky last”! My other two chances for the day only hit the post – both finished in the runner-up spot, though it is fair to say both found one too good. No excuses there.

In the meantime the racing world discussed the possibilities of 2000 Guineas hero Churchill to turn up at Epsom. Aiden O’Brien didn’t commit to anything in the post-race interviews, only referring to “the lads”.

Today things became a little clearer. At least in so far as no decision will be made for at least another week. That says Aiden seemed to get slightly carried away when  letting his mind speak:

“You wouldn’t say he won’t get further with the way he did it in the Guineas.” 

A hint in itself? Well, I reckon Churchill has a go at the Derby. He’s a son of the almighty Galileo, that alone gives him a chance to stay. And let’s be honest, it’s not like that Ballydoyle has too many other exciting options for the big race at this point in time: Capri, Yukatan, Douglas Macarthur and maybe the “dark horse” Cliffs Of Moher?

…..

3.00 Ayr: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Dalgleish’s Eez Eh looks overpriced in this race now probably fitter than on his seasonal reappearance last month. The four year was gelded over the winter after a pretty fruitful opening campaign.

He went through three obligatory maiden runs to get a handicap and after finding 12f too far on handicap debut he was subsequently dropped in trip and finished runner-up twice but went one better when dropped down to 9f at Carlisle where he got finally off the mark.

You can draw a line through his final start in 2016 on soft ground over 12f. However conditions at Ayr should suit, 10f on fast ground looks ideal. Eez Eh is only 3lb higher than his last winning mark but ran already three times to RPR’s above that, so there is a good chance that he could still pull out a bit more under optimal conditions.

Selection:
10pts win – Eez Eh @ 17/2 William Hill

Sunday Tips

The flat changes gear – we saw that today. The 2000 Guineas finally kicked the new season really off and it did so in style. The race produced a blockbuster finish with the better end for the 6/4 favourite Churchill.

It was another superb ride by the master that Ryan Moore is, as he made sure Churchill was in the best position when it really matter, grabbing the rail, to keep the colt focused and in line, which was an advantage.

At least compared to some of the other well fancied rivals, like Al Wukair or Barney Roy for example. The French horse had to go wide around the whole field, found that certainly not easy but finished strongly in his own right. Barney Roy looked still a bit green.

I’d love to see a rematch of the Guineas main contenders this year, and I’m sure we get it. Will be interesting whether it’s gonna be the same outcome? I’ have my doubts.

Sunday will be another massive day. The 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, and the Derby Trial at Leopardstown, plus a handful of other Group races and good Handicaps.

…….

1.50 Newmarket: Class 2 Handicap, 1m 4f

This is a hot contest with some really good horses lining up. Favourite Big Country is an exciting improver who looks certain to bring his All-Weather form to the turf. His last Kempton win is excellent form and the lightly raced son of High Chaparral could easily defy a 10lb rise in the mark.

However at prices I prefer top weight Frontiersman. Yes, it’s a tough task to run of 101 and 9st 10lb in a Handicap. However this lad looks pattern class. He has filled his huge frame nicely over the winter, strengthening further after a fine 3yo campaign last season that saw him win a nice Handicap over course and distance.

He clearly needed the run on his reapearance at Doncaster last month and should be primed now. Fast ground seems key, which he gets here at Newmarket. He takes plenty of beating in my mind.

Selection:
10pts win – Frontiersman @ 5/1 Paddy Power

……

3.55 Leopardstown: Handicap, 7 furlongs

He’s never won on turf, nonetheless Split The Atom looks incredibly well handicapped here. It’s not like that he doesn’t act on grass, in fact he’s been placed six times, however never found the right opportunity.

It looked like he could break the duck at Navan a fortnight ago. He travelled much the best and finished like a train but was arguably an unlucky runner-up.

He’s got a chance to race off the same mark, however with a 5lb apprentice in the saddle and over his preferred 7f trip on fast ground where he has a four out of six place strike rate.

The wide draw is not a problem because he’s a hold-up horse anyway, however it is not easy to win from far back at Leopardstown, so that is an obvious question mark. Nonetheless on RPR’s an time speed figures he has a tremendous chance and I’m happy to go risk at a big price.

Selection:
10pts win – Split The Atom @ 7/1 Bet365

……..

4.55 Hamilton: Class 5 Handicap, 8.5 furlongs

Kevin Ryan’s Al Hawraa seems judged on a poor seasonal reappearance but it’s likely she’s going to be much sharper this time. We don’t know yet how good (or bad) daughter of Iffraaj is, though there was some indication last season that she is not totally  without talent.

She was able to finish a good runner-up on debut behind subsequent dual winner and she managed to finish in the placings another two times in maiden company. It’s fair to say she looked bad in her two handicap runs, however her opening mark was potentially on the stiff side.

She dropped down to 63 now and judged on her maiden form that could give her a chance to be competitive if she can respond well for the slight step up in trip. Ground looks fine and Kevin Ryan tends to do pretty well at Hamilton even more so if Kevin Stock is in the saddle.

Selection:
10pts win – Al Hawraa @ 14/1 Bet365

…….

The Irish 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown looks a shocking race on Sunday. What’s the chance that even one of those runs in the actual Classic? On the other hand the Derby Trial is intriguing. Capri versus Yukatan.

Yukatan is held in high regard by the ‘Brien camp. However I actually like Capri a bit better at this stage. The big grey was not suited by the slow pace on his reappearance and it’ll be interesting to if things pan out differently and if that sees him closing the gab to Yukatan.

1000 Guineas Preview

Guineas Weekend Preview

Guineas weekend has firmly arrived – the first Classics of the new flat season nearly upon us…. time is flying – studying the four miler at Cheltenham feels like yesterday!

But it’s great. I love flat racing. I love Newmarket, I love Guineas weekend. It’s when dreams are still dreamed, when the summer starts to make its presence felt and the mind gets fully focused on the flat and all those good looking, fast horses that now emerge on a near daily basis.

My allegiance in the 2000 Guineas is not a secret. I shouted it from the roof for weeks: Al Wukair will give hot favourite Churchill plenty to think about. I stick to my guns and nothing has changed my opinion – I’d be surprised if the French horse doesn’t go close.

Sunday – 1000 Guineas:

Not until last night I made up my mind up on the fillies’ equivalent. Because let’s face it, this is quite an open contest. Yes, another Aiden O’Brien inmate says ‘HI’ from the top of the betting, but  you got to be a brave man to back Rhododendron for what seems quite a skinny price.

With fillies you never know whether they have trained on, whether they are still in love with the game or whether they have set their mind on other things in life. That aside, we haven’t seen Rhododendron since last season, whereas we have seen a number of other intriguing contenders already racing in the last weeks, proving they have trained on.

Also even if you do believe strongly in her juvenile form, it’s probably fair to say that it does tie in with a handful of other runners in the field, and it’s not like that she ran all of them down in the manner of a far superior individual.

Nonetheless it appears that the Irish have a very strong hand in the 1000 Guineas on Sunday, Aiden O’Brien in particular – not only because of Rhododendron.

Big market mover in recent days was stable mate Winter, and you can easily see why. It was a huge run in the 1000 Guineas trial at Leopardstown from her. She had a wider than ideal trip throughout, yet nearly beat stable mate Hydrangea who in contrast had the run of the race from the front.

They grey has plenty of scope and is clearly talented. However the good prices are long gone. Is Hydrangea better value, given she won the trial? Yes, possibly. A good filly, a willing partner for whoever jockey sits atop, a filly that has a fair chance, though she is far from flashy and you wonder whether she can improve from Leopardstown.

The Leopardstown form has been franked in no uncertain terms by third placed Rehana in the meantime – that enhances the chances of Winter and Hydrangea, no doubt. Rehana has been impressive in the Group 3 Athasi Stakes at Naas last weekend.

IMO this piece of form, the Leopardstown Trial, is therefore key in determining the winner of the 1000 Guineas. In saying that the filly that came fourth that day is clearly the one of most interest to me.

Intricately providing young Joseph his first Classic winner? What a story that would be. She is still a whopping price, which puzzles me, particularly because the vibes from the yard seem positive.

Anyway, Leopardstown was clearly an occasion where  the main aim was to get a run under her belt. Still she ran a perfectly fine race. She raced off the pace which wasn’t ideal in this particular contest, but she travelled well enough through the race and eventually finished less than 2 lengths beaten, without getting a hard ride at all.

It should put her right for when it really matters. Lest we forget, Intricately already is a Group 1 winner! She beat Hydrangea in a tight finish in the Moyglare last season – Rhododendron was nearly two lengths back in third.

The one mile trip won’t be an issue for her. Yes, she was disappointing at Santa Anita, but that was right at the end of the season. You could draw from that performance that quick ground is a slight concern, though. However in terms of stamina, I don’t worry too much. She looks a filly that cries out for an extra furlong.

In summary, Intricately looks a big price – too big. She has the right profile, is well bred for the job, has race fitness on her side and is clearly classy given she is a Group 1 winner – so Intricately @ 18/1 is my selection for the 1000 Guineas.

…….

5.00 Goodwood: Class 5 Handicap, 10f

Duchess Of Fife looks an intriguing contender for a red hot yard. The filly was pretty raw with plenty to learn in all her three maiden runs last season, however as an April foal she should have scope to improve this season. She has quite a big frame to fill too, so a winter may have done her the world of good.

A hood is applied for the first time, so she does try the 10f trip. Her maiden form looks solid rating wise, giving her every chance of an opening mark of 65. She will need to find improvement for the distance, headgear and maturity, but if she does make a step forward she should go very close here.

Selection:
10pts win – Duchess Of Fife @ 9/1 Bet365

………

6.50 Doncaster: Class 2 Handicap, 7f

Bottom weight Aardwolf is a very interesting contender after an excellent comeback run on the back of a gelding op during the winter. With his WFA allowance and prominent racing style he could steel the race.

Nonetheless a safer pick is Gallipoli who looks certain to progress after a classy victory at Leicester last moth. The four year old is still quite lightly raced and had only three starts over this 7f trip, with legitimate excuses the first two starts over this trip where didn’t quite perform too well.

Gallipoli has course form – he got off the mark on debut here over 5f on fast ground. So conditions are sure to suit him. Hopefully there will be enough pace, as it seems not too many want to go forward. However he showed in the past to be able to track the pace and change gear.

Selection:
10pts win – Gallipoli @ 10/3 William Hill

Thursday Racing

Not all Frankel offspring can be classy. Seven Heavens certainly isn’t. I felt he deserved his chance dropping in trip in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot yesterday afternoon. However he finished weak. No excuses this time.

However this proved to be the perfect test for Blue Point. Trained by Charlie Appleby, the Dewhurst third enjoyed the return to sprinting and looks an exciting prospect for this division this season. You’d have to think the Commonwealth Cup is the ideal target for him.

Mill Reef Stakes winner Harry Angel ran a big race in second, pulling hard. If he learns to settle there is a lot of upside for this Dark Angel colt.

In the meantime the declarations for the 2000 Guineas are in. It’ll be the smallest field since 1988 – with only ten horses going to post! Churchill remains the overwhelming favourite. He’s a general 6/4 chance.

I’m still happy with my selection, though. Al Wukair has been my ante-post fancy ever since he romped home in the Prix Djebel, and I remain confident that he’ll give me a big run for my money.

There is also a nice article on Al Wukair on the Racingpost website for further reading.

……

4.00 Redcar, Class 5 Handicap, 1m 1f

Some interesting horses in this race. Favourite Teodoro could improve big time for the trip on handicap debut while Ronnie The Rooster looks the form choice.

However bottom weight Turning Gold is the most attractive price. He had three maiden runs in quick succession last year, totally unfancied SP’s ranging from 50/1 to 200/1.

However given connections, this Prescott runner is bound improve. The handicapper thinks the same and has allotted a rather biggish mark of 58 – where did he get that from, given the shocking maiden form?

Doesn’t matter, because it could still be not enough to stop this Pivotal son on handicap debut. He steps up to 9f which looks within range on pedigree. Turning Gold was also a very late foal, born in May, so he’s likely to be better with age and experience.

It seems significant that Luke Morris is in the saddle who rides plenty of winners for Mark Prescott and has only this one ride today.

Selection:
10pts win – Turning Gold @ 10/1 Bet365

Crystal Ocean – a Derby contender?

It’s been quite an excellent week – another one, I dare to say – as Dakota Gold went in at 12/1 and did so in fine fashion. Enjoy as long as it lasts…. desperate times may be around the corner at any given point as the past has taught.

Betting aside, it’s bee a huge day for racing. The jumps still feature big time, despite May only days away. The Scottish National was on the cards today, and one I fancied allot for Aintree, who then fell at the very first fence, made amends here and made it back to back victories in the Scottish equivalent: Vicente!

At Newbury we saw a potential 2000 Guineas contender – a serious one, most likely. Barney Rot looks a brute of a horse and overcame inexperience to score readily in the Greenham Stakes for his daddy Exelebration who himself was runner-up in this race who then went on to win the German Guineas subsequently.

Bareny Rot, though, will run at Newmarket and must be a serious contender if he turns up healthy. He’s now a mere 6/1 chance and should be ready for a step up to the 1 mile trip. That says I remain firmly in the Al Wukair camp, of course!

We may saw a different Classics contender at Nottingham: in the 6.30 Maiden the well fancied Sea The Stars colt Crystal Ocean impressed me with an easy victory in what appeared not a bad race at all. But he did it so nicely, all hands and heels. A bright future lies ahead?

Possibly. He is certainly bred to be a really good horse. Crystal Ocean is closely related to the excellent Crystal Capella and the Derby trial might be next on the agenda now that’ll give us a better idea of how good he really is.

It’s noteworthy that Crystal Ocean is trained by shrewd Sir Michael Stoute who certainly knows how to get one ready for the big day. With a muddy Derby picture at this point in time I’ll do have a small nibble at 40’s – he may not run, but if he does, this price could easily look incredibly big.

……

4.55 Navan: Class 1 Handicap, 1m 2f

Prendergast’s Althiba is one who looks ready to step up and take advantage of a fair looking mark after a fine placed effort on her seasonal debut. However I feel the top weight Massif Central could easily do the same but offers much better value at a huge price.

Massif Central ran pretty well in maiden company, achieving mid-80 RPR’s that make his handicap mark appear fair. However on handicap debut which was also his seasonal comeback he started awkwardly and was soon relegated to the back of the field. He didn’t really look comfortable throughout and turning widest didn’t help either.

He still ran better than the bare form suggests, though this looked more like a pipe opener than anything else. On the other hand he seems physically improved. A fine, biggish, scopey colt, who now steps up to 10f for the first time.

Not a given that he stays the trip, but there is a fair chance he does and if that turns out to be true than it is not unreasonable to believe he can improve for his second seasonal run too. If same happens then he could be a bit better than his current rating. Also this is an easier race than the other day plus the better ground should suit.

With a top jockey in the saddle I feel connections expect a big run from this Arcano son – at 12’s he seems quite a bit overpriced in an open race.

Selection:
10pts win – Massif Central @ 12/1 Paddy Power

The War Front Debate

Another winner today – though not the one I expected most: Make On Madam landed the odds in the lucky last at Beverly in great style. Compare that to Seven Heavens who finished a slightly underwhelming third in the European Free Handicap.

The Frankel son was taken to post early, looked warm in the preliminaries of the race and then pulled his way through the first couple of furlongs. Given all the hype before the off in all the usual racing outlets as well as on social media, it was a bit disappointing to see him finish with zero left in the tank.

Seven Heavens looks still raw, green and like a schoolboy in first grade who finally has to face the realities of school life. It’ll be interesting to see if John Gosden can get this lad to settle – if he does, then Seven Heavens can still be an exciting prospect for the future.

The winner of the race, though, Aiden O’Brien’s Whitecliffsofdover, already looks a fine prospect. The 2000 Guineas on the radar now? Surely, after this commanding experience. A first time tongue-tie saw him finish the race strongly. He was striding clear in the closing stages, thoroughly enjoying the demanding task the Rowley Mile is.

This son of War Front looks not only quite big and scopey  but has also clearly trained on. Which is nice to see because in the past we often heard something along the lines “War Front’s don’t train on”. Not an unreasonable shout. There is undeniably some truth to it.

Declaration of War, the one example brought up over and over again to demonstrate that War Front can produce excellent older horses indeed, is certainly a valid one, but there is also a fact that – solely looking at UK runners here – performance does drop off dramatically from two to three year old offspring – 26.9% strike rate (55.8% placed) for 2 year old’s versus 11.3% (24.6% placed) for 3 year old’s.

And for the one incredibly impressive winner we saw today, there were two fancied War Front daughters that bombed out in the Nell Gwyn Stakes.

This is a persisting trend year after year and therefore can’t be denied. However there is also the mare that has a role to play and we have seen with The Factor or the mentioned Declaration Of War can be top class beyond their juvenile season.

…..

4.40 Lingfeld: Class 6 Handicap, 1m

An open and rather competitive race for this grade, though the short favourite could improve yet again after a couple of big performances and therefore might have too much on his plate for this lot.

Nonetheless I’m more interested in potential improver Caledonian Gold. The four year old mare is still without a win, however is totally unexposed over the one mile trip and has dropped to a career lowest rating, despite running to solid form the last handful of starts over shorter trips.

She has tried this sort of trip only once last season when she failed miserably, which was more down to her pulling way too hard in the early stages of the race. She looked one paced over 7f in all her races though, still always running to the line at least, suggesting that now where she is potentially wiser and more mature that she really wants an extra furlong.

The very fact that the dam won a race over 10 furlongs on the Lingfield All-Weather gives enough confidence to suggest that this step up in distance can help. And if it does edge out a bit of improvement then Caledonian Gold could easily take advantage of her falling mark.

The yard seems to expect a performance as the jockey booking of Robert Winston looks significant. A “job jockey” I would call it, he has only two rides on the card, the next one after this race nearly two hours later, and he has a very healthy strike rate for this yard either, suggesting he’s not making the trip in the afternoon just for fun.

Selection:
10pts win – Caledonian Gold @ 15/2 Bet365

Al Wukair a serious Guineas Contender?

Did we see the 2000 Guineas winner today? Well, the answer is: maybe! Certainly Al Wukair made a big impression at Maisons-Laffitte when landing the Group 3 Prix Djebel.

The two year old son of Dream Ahead dawdled along in the rear of the field but once switched to the outside by rider Gregory Benoist the colt produced a stunning turn of foot and won rather handily going away in the end without being all out.

This, big scopey lad looked still a bit green, which is fine as it was only his third start – though also his third win! He finished last season with a 100% two for two record, culminating in a really nice Listed race win at Deauville where he proved to stay the mile.

Seven furlongs today was no big deal either but he was probably slightly taken out of his comfort zone by the pace and a return to the eight furlong trip will suit him. This form appears to be very strong, given runner-up National Defense is the reigning Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere champ.

Trainer Andre Fabre was pleased stating in the aftermath “it was a useful race, I was delighted by the style in which he won; seven furlongs is a bit sharp for him so, with all that put together I am happy and we will go for the Guineas,”

With these French horse but more in general with Guineas contenders you don’t know how they take to the quirky test that Newmarket racecourse provides. It may well be a bit of a culture shock for Al Wukair too, however I crunched the numbers for Dream Ahead offspring which are quite encouraging, actually.

Albeit a limited sample size, it looks still significant: over a mile from 9 starters 3 have won and overall 5 were in the money. That is quite healthy output given the average SP for those starters was 7/1.

In summary there is plenty to like about Al Wukair. He was a promising juvenile but has clearly trained on and filled his big frame as we’ve seen today. He’s classy, has a turn of foot and on pedigree should be okay at the Rowley Mile. He’ll come into the 2000 Guineas race fit and it can’t be a disadvantage to be trained by the master that Andre Fabre is.

Al Wukair is already as short as 5/1 with some firms, but 8/1 is still available. It won’t last. Whether favourite Churchill can be beaten remains to be seen, but he’s a very short price and let’s not forget what happened to the red hot favourite of the same stable last year when everyone thought he was unbeatable.

At 8/1 I’m happy to put a big ante-post wager each-way on Al Wukair. He showed me today anything I wanted to see from a potential Guineas star.

…….

2.00 Lingfield: Maiden Stakes

Favourite Eagle Creek looks hard to beat if ready to go on his seasonal reappearance. He ran well on debut last season but was put away subsequently. He’s destined for better and this race is most likely only a stepping stone.

From a good family by Raven’s Pass and Listed race placed dam Blue Angel, a half-brother to listed race winner and multiple Meydan winner Viren’s Army, he should be too good for this lot at Lingfield.

The All-Weather surface is unlikely to pose a threat and connections must clearly feel he’s here to win as Atzeni comes for only this one ride and his record in Lingfield maidens when he’s having only a single ride on the day is marvellous

Selection:
10pts win – Eagle Creek @ 2/1 Bet365

…….

3.10 Pontefract: Class 3 Handicap

The books seem to have the wrong horse favoured in the betting in my book. William Haggas’s Battered looks a far better chance at a bigger price. Battered run well in four starts in his juvenile campaign. Won a competitive maiden at Yarmouth and lost little in defeat when runner-up in a hot Handicap at York.

He had subsequent Listed places Tomily behind him who is now a 99 rated individual. RPR’s also suggest Battered is likely to be well in here off his current 82 mark.

Further to that he did better than one would expect as a two year old given sire Foxwedge progeny seems to do better as three year olds. With a track that favoures prominent runners sure to suit this pacey lad I feel he takes the world of beating.

Selection:
10 pts win – Battered @ 2/1 PP