VIP Members: Weekly Tipping
Hello and welcome to the Weekly Tipping Service in which we will be previewing every race across Newmarket’s two-day meeting this weekend.
As with our other services, we will offer points-based selections at the bottom of each race with the content split between five authors, myself (Andrew Fletcher), Mike White, Dan Tory, Eddy Arthur and Keith Mason, with each race carrying initials so that you can identify who has written the copy.
We will also include a nap and a next best bet at the foot of each day’s selections.
1.50 – Spring Lodge Stakes (Handicap) (AF)
The two-day Classic meeting gets underway with this competitive handicap and there are no shortage of horses in here with chances.
According to the market, the standout looks to be Sharja Bridge, who represents the in-form yard of Roger Varian. The four-year-old was unraced as a juvenile and although it took him three runs to get his head in front last term, he bumped into some smart performers including Addeybb on his first two starts. Following his ready success at Nottingham in August, he finished a close second to The Grape Escape at Sandown and although he has an attractive profile, I can’t help but think he is on the short side at around the 11/4 mark.
Another stable who has been amongst the winners of late is that of John Gosden and he is doubly-represented here. Frankie Dettori gets the leg up on Dommersen who looked progressive when winning three of his six starts in 2016 but missed last season through injury. He made his return to action at Kempton in March and with that run likely to have brought him on physically, he looks to have a decent chance.
However, the stable may have stronger claims with Tricorn who finished third in the Britannia at Royal Ascot last season. He was disappointing when only beating one home in the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes back in July but he has been gelded since and he looks to have every chance if resuming his improvement.
Another horse who was gelded over the winter is Another Eclipse who has yet to finish outside of the first four in his career to date. His only career success so far came in a Brighton maiden last July but if gelding does unlock further potential, he showed enough last term to suggest he can be competitive off his current mark.
An interesting angle here could be course and distance form as 1m1f is an unusual distance so horses who have run well over it before tend to do so time and again. Two of the last three winners of the Cambridgeshire, Spark Plug and Third Time Lucky take their chance here and although the former has a tough ask with top weight, the latter looks well-handicapped on his old form. He caught the eye when a strong-finishing sixth in the Spring Cup at Newbury a couple of weeks ago and looks primed for a big run.
Cote D’Azur also has solid course and distance form having been placed on both his runs at the trip including when third in the Cambridgeshire back in September. He didn’t back that up next time but he races here off the same mark and having had a run on the all-weather to blow away the cobwebs, it would be no surprise to see him outrun his odds.
However, the one who makes most appeal is BROROCCO who finished just behind Cote D’Azur in fifth in the Cambridgeshire. He was well-fancied that day on the back of a comfortable success at Newbury the week before and although he ran well at Newmarket, there is every chance that run left its mark. There is every chance he could still be improving and I think he is worth a small each-way bet at around the 14/1 mark.
BROROCCO – 0.5pt e/w @ 14/1 (Paddy Power) (4 places, 1/4 odds)
2.20 – Longholes Palace House Stakes (Group 3) (AF)
Karl Burke’s Havana Grey tops the market for this contest and on official ratings at least, he is some way clear of his rivals. The three-year-old had some very smart form last year, winning twice at Listed level and also winning the Group 3 Molecomb at Goodwood. He wasn’t far off the best sprinting juveniles last year and if he can continue that form this year, his connections looks set for an exciting season. With this race in mind though, it is worth pointing out that three-year-olds don’t have the best of records in recent years, so I think he is worth taking on.
Michael Dods has done well with sprinters in recent seasons and he saddles Mabs Cross who won her last four starts in the second half of last season. She was a little unfortunate not to continue her winning run at Bath a couple of weeks ago where she was stopped in her run before being beaten only a neck at the line. She is clearly an improving sprinter but she will need to step forward again to figure here.
Bryan Smart has saddled two winners of this race in the last decade so it is clearly a race he targets with his sprinters. This year he sends Alpha Delphini down from his North Yorkshire base, who finished eighth in this race twelve months ago. He found it difficult in Group company last year but found his form towards the end of the season. He also ran well on his reappearance at Musselburgh but I think he probably needs soft ground to be seen at his best.
Robert Cowell is always a man to be respected with sprinters and his two runners Encore D’Or and Jumira Bridge both warrant respect here. The former did manage to win on turf last season but he seems to be a better performer on the all-weather and has been running well in that sphere since returning from Meydan. The latter is a new recruit from the Roger Varian stable and he ran well on his first start for the yard at Kempton a few weeks ago. That was an encouraging start for his new connections and whilst I suspect he will pick up some nice prizes before the end of the season, I think he might come up short in this company.
The one who I think could be overpriced is ORNATE who has also moved yards over the winter. He has joined the David Griffiths team who have done so well with Take Cover in recent seasons and this five-year-old also has plenty of ability. He could only finish sixth in this last year but had run well to finish second in the Abernant before that and I think he could be one that goes best fresh. With that in mind, I think it is worth taking a chance on him at around 10/1.
ORNATE – 0.5pt e/w @ 10/1 (bet365) (1/4 odds)
2.55 – Dunaden Jockey Club Stakes (Group 2) (DT)
This doesn’t look the strongest renewal although in truth, it probably comes a little early in the season for the big boys to be out as recent runnings haven’t thrown up the top quality fields a Group 2 probably deserves.
Defoe is an obvious most likely winner but at prohibitive odds in what could be a muddling race, I think the percentage call is to keep yourself fresh for the Guineas!
His easy win at Newbury a fortnight ago showed his St Leger run to be too bad to be true and assuming he doesn’t bounce on the back of that, this could be there for the taking.
Queen’s Vase runner-up Count Octave finished ahead of him in the Doncaster Classic but has looked difficult to win with and although he was value for more than the neck winning margin in a Wolverhampton novice event last month, he doesn’t look the most resolute of finishers. Given his strapping frame, he should be suited by further than the 1m4f trip here to boot.
Red Verdon is more interesting and had the beating of the re-opposing Master The World in a Listed race at Kempton back in November. He was in receipt of 3lb that day though and the pair both seem to be found wanting when competing at this sort of level.
Khalidi completes the line-up and had some fair form last year but hasn’t really got going for new handler Clive Cox yet, for all he was set a stiff task in the Dubai Sheema Classic latest. A return to something like his best form would put him in the mix but that has to be taken on trust at present.
I wouldn’t put anyone off backing Defoe but I see him as a low-value play here and not worth the risk at likely odds-on.
3.35 – Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes (Group 1) (MW)
A fantastic renewal of the season’s first classic awaits us on Saturday afternoon, with 14 colts and bundles of potential lining up come half past three. Where better to start with the master’s entries and Aidan O’Brien has three of them this year – Murillo has looked a real sprinter so far, so seems to be in the lineup to perform pacemaking duties for his two big-time stablemates.
Gustav Klimt currently heads the market and in the absence of Ryan Moore, who is over in Kentucky riding Mendelssohn, seems to have the stable’s now first choice jockey – Seamie Heffernan – on board. Still, his achievements and rating so far don’t seem to back up his status as short-priced favourite. His maiden win over Would Be King looks just ok form and while he did overcome some serious trouble in running to win the Group 2 Superlative Stakes, beating Nebo, Great Prospector and the like doesn’t exactly scream Guineas-winning class. However, he was good on his reappearance in the Listed Leopardstown Guineas Trial to beat Imaging over seven furlongs on heavy ground and has been strong enough at the finish on all three efforts at 7f to suggest that he’d certainly get a mile easily enough, despite looking a speedy colt from a dam who was a Listed winner at 6f. He may well have improved from two to three, will certainly be primed for this after that ‘prep’ run and is trained by the best around, but at his current price (9/4), you might want to see a little more ‘top class’ form backing up his claims.
O’Brien’s second runner with a big chance in the race is his Racing Post Trophy winner, SAXON WARRIOR, who has been the subject of hugely positive reports recently. Connections claim that he’s grown into a real beast of a horse over the winter and spring and that’s a big worry for the rest given that this unbeaten son of Deep Impact is unbeaten with a Group 1 and Group 2 over a mile already to his name. Eventually, I’m sure that a mile and a quarter or even a mile and a half will be the ideal trip for this horse, but he hasn’t looked short of the required speed for this so far, especially given his stablemate Murillo will surely try to lead the field at a good clip. I have a feeling that this is the real stable number one and the fact that his trainer labelled him as ‘a very special horse’ after he edged out Roaring Lion in the Doncaster Group 1, marks him out as one to keep on the right side of. The only question mark for me is the ground – although the trainer seems to think he’ll be better on a better surface, he’s yet to prove it, but this is obviously the perfect opportunity.
Speaking of that Racing Post Trophy, it could well turn out to be the key piece of form here as Roaring Lion bids to atone for his disappointing reappearance in the Craven Stakes behind Godolphin’s Masar. That race was run very much in favour of Charlie Appleby’s race-fit charge, with the son of New Approach given an uncontested lead and not being pressed. Yes, he skipped away nicely and stayed the trip very well, but I don’t think Oisin Murphy was hard on Roaring Lion at all once he saw that rival had got the run on him from the front, so the margin of victory was flattering indeed. John Gosden spoke after about not being too disappointed and knowing that his horse wasn’t match fit, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Qatar Racing-owned son of Kitten’s Joy show much, much more this time around. Masar may help to force a strong pace behind Murillo but that could make him a sitting duck late on and should play into the hands of a horse that is Gosden’s only runner in the race – he’s certainly no 16/1 shot if he’s back to his best 2-y-o form and he could well be the biggest threat to O’Brien’s pair.
Newbury’s Group 3 Greenham Stakes has always been a good starting point for 2000 Guineas contenders and this year’s contest threw up a close finish between four horses – three of which run here. James Garfield won by a small margin from the staying-on Expert Eye and Raid was back in fourth, an impressive effort on just his second start. He is a fascinating runner given his inexperience, but this is a huge step up and he’ll have to come on plenty.
As for the winner, he is an admirable, stout sort who always gives his best, but you can’t help but feel he’s not quite good enough to win a race like this. So it is Expert Eye that is the most interesting. He was hugely keen and unsettled in the first half of the race and it was pretty impressive that he still came so close to winning. His talent was there for all to see when he bolted up at Goodwood last year in the Vintage Stakes with the likes of James Garfield, Mildenberger and Zaman well behind, but his temperament has got in the way the last twice. He can’t afford to boil over here if he’s to contend, but if he settles in a strongly-run race, the ability is there and 10/1 would look a big price.
Finally, it’s important to mention the great unknown – Mark Johnston’s Elarqam. With just two runs under his belt as a two-year-old, we still don’t know what he’s really capable of and that could be a great deal judging by the slightly lazy way he raced. He needed stoking up on both occasions but won very well regardless and if he’s a little more straightforward here, he could be a huge player. Still, I’d rather take notice of top class form in the book as it’s more reliable than pie in the sky potential and even though he’s certainly well bred with (hopefully) a big career ahead of him, this might come too soon.
SAXON WARRIOR – 1pt win @ 4/1 (Ladbrokes, Coral)
4.10 – Hot Streak Handicap (KM)
If we work through the race from the top the first horse that catches my eye would be the Clive Cox trained Chagatai. He was gelded at the end of last season and whilst he took a keen hold in his first race back at Kempton in April, he always looked as though he would master the early leader. He ran in the National Stakes on his second run as a two-year-old and was presumably highly thought of. Now gelded, connections will be hoping that he settles better and fulfils that potential.
Barton Mills and Yafta both made the running on their last appearance. The William Haggas trained Barton Mills takes a step back in trip after being caught close home over 7f at Kempton on his first run this season, he was three lengths clear two furlongs out before getting caught close home, sprinting might be his forte? However, he did win over 7f as a two year old, so may have just needed the run and was unable to dominate over 6f at York in October when a shade disappointing. This may mean that Yafta can get the early lead and with a number of winners making all at the Craven Meeting, this one needs to be on our shortlist and rates the main danger. He takes a step up in class, but has certainly earnt it, with two nice wins at Bath and Chelmsford.
The Charlie Appleby trained TRIBAL QUEST, our selection, only had to be shaken up to assert his authority in a competitive Novice at Kempton his first run since being gelded, in which the David Elsworth trained Galloway Hills, finished four and a half lengths back in fourth. He has some good two year old form, most notably behind Invincible Army who won earlier in the week at Ascot and his trainer is in good form too, particularly at the last Newmarket meeting.
Vj Day trained by Kevin Ryan is another one who could enter the shake up, the trainer has been in good form and after the problems he had last year I feel that his horse could be well handicapped. He may appreciate the return to turf after some good runs on the AW at Wolverhampton and Kempton earlier in the year.
Incidentally, TRIBAL QUEST and VJ Day share the same sire – War Front whose progeny have a good record at Newmarket, on Good to Soft ground.
TRIBAL QUEST – 1pt win @ 6/1 (Ladbrokes, Coral)
4.45 – Havana Gold Newmarket Stakes (Listed Race) (MW)
With the likes of the ill-fated Permian and Dual Group 1-winning Hawkbill on the recent roll of honour for this race, it’s clear that good middle distance types use this race to launch their Group careers, so I’ll zero in on the horses that have looked as if they’d make up into classy performers.
The likes of Roland Rocks and Lynwood Gold look to have a lot to find to get up to that level, while Petrus isn’t one that exactly excites with a view to stepping up in this company, so I’m happy to pass over those fairly quickly.
David Simcock’s Highbrow has looked useful in two all-weather races and was impressive on his second, where he sluiced up by over four lengths. However, that’s not the traditional route for a quality horse to take and even though the son of Intello did look decent that day, it was in a race that rather fell apart, so the form is difficult to assess. Similar comments apply to Stephensons Rocket from the Ed Walker stable, who ran in two maidens on the turf this time, winning by a fairly wide margin on his second attempt. He looked a little green in both starts and connections will hope that’s been ironed out over the break, but he still showed plenty of ability on both occasions despite his Ripon winning form being questionable at the least. His first run was a second behind Crossed Baton, who won the Derby Trial at Epsom last week, so he could bring some potential to the table, especially on this step up to 10f.
The three remaining contenders look the most interesting – Godolphin have two carrying the blue, while the other runs in the colours of HH Sheikha Al Jaila Racing for John Gosden – Sheikh Mohammed’s famous old silks, so all very much coming from the same source. Firstly, Key Victory is one of Charlie Appleby’s two in the race and after just one successful run, he falls into the ‘could be anything’ category. He beat the now 98-rated Qaysar on that debut and it was a useful race that he won, so he’s clearly one with plenty of ability. However, this jump straight into Listed company, and decent Listed company at that, could be too much for him on what is just his second day at school.
Instead, it is OLD PERSIAN who I prefer out of the boys in blue and is the selection. He is very highly rated by the yard and many think he could be one of Appleby’s horses to follow closely this season. He hammered Gronkowski at this track in October last year and was very impressive in doing so before disappointing in a Listed contest in soft ground. It seemed all was not well with him there, so it was no surprise to see him make a winning reappearance back on the Rowley Mile this season as he edged out Dukhan in a competitive handicap for 3-y-o’s despite looking as if his trainer had left a bit to work on. That could turn out to be a very good race and there are a few horses to follow there, so with 5 runs under his belt and plenty of track experience, he ticks plenty of boxes. He has the race-fitness edge over his rivals here and that could be enough to help him take this prize.
Of course he has the useful Graffiti Master to contend with though, and John Gosden’s horse has the stamp of one who has to improve from two to three. He closed out his 2-y-o season with a good third to Kew Gardens in the Listed Zetland Stakes over C&D and that’s probably the best piece of form in the race, so even though he hasn’t been seen for 200 days and could need the run like many of Gosden’s have so far this year, he’s the highest rated here and must be respected. The worry for me is that he’s shaped like he’ll need a real trip to be seen at his best and you won’t see him at his optimum until he goes over 12f or more.
OLD PERSIAN – 2pts win @ 11/4 (Ladbrokes, Coral)
5.20 – Qipco Racing Welfare Handicap (DT)
A bit of a disappointing turnout with only seven lining up but I think the vast majority may have been scared off by SYMBOLIZATION.
Representing a red-hot Charlie Appleby, who won this a couple of years ago with subsequent Group 1 runner-up Folkswood, the strapping colt has to give weight away to all of his rivals but could still be well-in off an opening mark of 100. He was turned over at odds-on in a conditions event at the Craven meeting over a furlong shorter than the mile trip here but only went down by a neck to the promising Purser in a muddling 4-runner affair. The step up in trip and having that run under his belt will certainly hold him in good stead here and given he still holds entries in a pair of Group 1s in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes, he should prove a cut above his rivals.
Stablemate Folk Tale proved a big disappointment in the Free Handicap last time so the biggest threat could come from Northern-raider Crownthorpe. The improving gelding comfortably accounted for the re-opposing Book of Dreams at Ripon last time and looks to have been let off lightly with only a 5lb rise for his dominant display. To get competitive here will take another step up but he is certainly heading firmly in the right direction at present.
Of the remainder, Sam Gold warrants a second check despite being the only maiden in the contest. He finished a close-up second in a hot Newbury novice event and a Nottingham maiden, which has turned out to be solid form, to round off his campaign and has been feasibly well treated by the assessor now making his handicap bow off a mark of 86. He lacks a recent run that some of his main rivals have in the bank though and may have to settle for the minor honours once again here.
SYMBOLIZATION – 2pts win @ 7/4 (Ladbrokes, Coral)
NAP: SYMBOLIZATION (5.20)
NB: OLD PERSIAN (4.45)
Paul Ferguson’s Bet of the Day
7.50 Doncaster – Napoleons Casino And Restaurant Sheffield Handicap (Class 4)
With Qaysar not being declared for the concluding handicap – I was keen on his chances from entry stage, so keep him in mind in the upcoming weeks – I’m staying away from Newmarket this afternoon and the horse I am most looking forward to seeing on the Flat is the Iain Jardine-trained Bedrock at Doncaster this evening.
The five-year-old won twice on the Flat when trained by William Haggas and repeated that feat over hurdles for Dan Skelton, for whom he also finished third behind Defi du Seuil in last year’s Anniversary 4-Y-O Hurdle at Aintree.
Switched to the Jardine stable, he bolted up over 2m3½f at Musselburgh in March – on his first start for four months – before running a career best, when again third in Grade 1 company at the Grand National meeting. He looked like causing an upset between the final two flights that day and was beaten just over 3 lengths in the end by Lalor, with Vision des Flos advertising that form with a sound second at Punchestown last week.
Up to a mark of 145 over hurdles, he is rated just 83 on the level and has yet to run beyond 1m2f under this code. Given the improvement he has shown over hurdles since last being seen on the Flat and also having proved that he stays beyond 2m, the step up to this sort of trip (1m6½f) could bring about plenty of improvement.
Bedrock seems at the top of his game at present and, though it looks a competitive staying handicap, a big run looks on the cards. He looks particularly well treated in comparison to the other pair who revert from hurdles – Dino Velvet (who won off 121 at Ayr recently and is now 15lbs below Bedrock in that sphere, yet has to concede 1lb to him this evening) and Master Of Irony.
BEDROCK 1pt win @ 7/2 (bet365)
1.50 – Qatar Racing Handicap (KM)
It is interesting that Ryan Moore will be making the journey back from Kentucky where he rides Mendelssohn in the Kentucky Derby, to ride at Newmarket – from Mendelssohn to ADAMANT in a day! I am sure that he will be suitably rewarded for his efforts, as the Sir Michael Stoute-trained four year old looks to have an outstanding chance in the first race of the day. Ryan Moore has ridden him in all his races and the lightly-raced gelding appears to be improving with age, he was in front just after the line at Newbury and looks like one to follow this year.
Charlie Appleby/Godolphin are well represented in the race with Wolf Country, Alqamar and Celestial Spheres and any one of these are sure to be there or thereabouts, with slight preference for the son of Dubawi – Wolf Country. He looks the most likely danger of the three, he appeared to need the run when last seen in Meydan, just tiring in the closing stages to finish fourth in what was his first run since being gelded, I would expect him to improve on that run.
Rod Millman brings his consistent four-year-old Duke Of Bronte up from Devon and he ran well in some big handicaps last year, most notably when winning a Heritage Handicap at Ascot on soft ground in September. He will be a big player in this race, however the trainer’s record at headquarters is not great 0/13 in the last five years and I will pass him over on this occasion.
Oasis Fantasy looks well-handicapped on some form and by the sire Oasis Dream he looks sure to go well at Newmarket, although his latest run was a shade disappointing.
Finally, if the favourite was to be beaten it could be Reshoun, the Ian Williams-trained runner who benefits. He improved throughout last season after moving from Alain de Royer-Dupré and could be a horse to follow again this year, he won well on his last start at Doncaster, after a couple of eye catching runs. He gets the trip well and handles good or soft ground.
ADAMANT – 2pts win @ 7/2 (bet365, Coral)
2.20 – Charm Spirit Dahlia Stakes (Group 2) (KM)
The Charlie Appleby trained filly WUHEIDA looks to have a great chance of following up her win at Del Mar where she took the Breeders Cup Filly & Mares Turf (Grade 1), by winning this Group 2. She was a very good filly at two, tasting Group 1 success at Chantilly, but after a setback she was not seen until July and was clearly making up for lost time when winning at Del Mar. The decision to keep her in training should be rewarded here and I will be surprised if she does not go on to win bigger prizes later in the year too.
The Ger Lyons trained Elegant Pose ran well on her first run this year when possibly finding the ground too soft at Naas. She was beaten by the Dermot Weld trained Making Light who she had beaten in a Listed race over course and distance at the end of last season. Although a Listed win does not really compare to the Group 1 winning form of the selection.
The main danger may come in the shape of the French trained filly Golden Legend, trained by Henri-Francois Devin. She has a Group 3 win to her name after staying on well to win the Prix Bertrand de Tarragon at Maisons-Lafitte, before disappointing on her final start at 3. Whilst her form does not look as good as the selection the other concern would be that the majority of her best runs have been on very soft ground.
WUHEIDA – 2pts win @ 5/6 (William Hill)
2.55 – longholes.com Handicap (AF)
A fiercely-competitive sprint handicap to get our teeth into here with the weights headed by Hugo Palmer’s Gifted Master. The five-year-old has won over course and distance in the past and also picked up Listed prizes on the July Course and at Lingfield last year. Considering the latest of those successes, you would have to say that he was disappointing when finishing only sixth on Good Friday and he arrives here with a bit to prove.
Also towards the top of the weights is Magical Memory who returns to handicap company for the first time since winning the Stewards’ Cup in 2015. He has acquitted himself well in handicap company since then but his last couple of efforts have suggested his powers may be starting to wain at the very top level. He is only 6lb higher than he was when winning at Goodwood and he is hard to dismiss.
Many of the field ran in the same race at the Craven meeting which was won by Ed Walker’s Aeolus. The seven-year-old has always promised a lot and having been given a chance by the handicapper, he took full advantage. The 4lb rise seems fair enough but the one to take out of the race could be Ekhtiyaar who finished fifth. Roger Varian’s four-year-old improved for his seasonal reappearance last year and it would be no surprise to see him reverse the placings here.
One of the more interesting runners in the field is Medicine Jack, who is a rare runner at Newmarket for Irish trainer Ger Lyons. A high-class two-year-old, he was seen only once last season but having been gelded following that run, he made a winning reappearance at Naas at the end of March. He was keen early on but having been off the track for so long it could be that he was just a little fresh. I think a 4lb rise is on the lenient side and if he can handle these quicker conditions, then he looks likely to be thereabouts.
A sprinter who we could hear a lot about this season is Scorching Heat who won the Stewards’ Cup consolation race the last time we saw him. Andrew Balding’s four-year-old won a shade cosily that day and having been gelded since, I think his connections have hopes of him winning more big prizes this term. I understand that 8st 5lb is too light for Oisin Murphy and therefore Rob Hornby is taking the ride but he might just improve for his return to action.
With that in mind, I think it is best to focus on the Richard Fahey-trained pair of Mr Lupton and EASTERN IMPACT who filled the first two places twelve months ago. Race fitness can be an important factor at this time of year and both of these horses have a run under their belt. The former caught the eye when finishing third behind Aeolus at the Craven meeting and his trainer said beforehand that he might just need the run. If that is the case, then he should be able to put up an improved performance off the same mark and having won this race himself three years ago, I think he is well-placed to regain his crown.
EASTERN IMPACT – 1pt e/w @ 8/1 (bet365) (4 places, 1/4 odds)
3.35 – Qipco 1000 Guineas Stakes (Group 1) (MW)
This really does look a wide-open renewal of the first fillies’ classic of the year, with more than half the field already rated over 102.
Aidan O’Brien is, as expected, many-handed – just the four in the race for him this year. Both Sarrochi look to have plenty to do to challenge judging by their recent reappearances and the market reflects that, but O’Brien’s other two fill two of the first three spots in the betting.
Favourite at the time of writing is HAPPILY, who undoubtedly has some of the best form in the race from an impressive two-year-old season that contained two Group 1 victories, one over this trip in a soft ground Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly. Her Breeders’ Cup flop can be forgiven and even though she hasn’t been out for a prep run this year, this sister to Gleneagles and Marvellous looks a worthy favourite. Of course, she’ll have to prove that she’s trained on and still retains the quality, but her brother did and the fact that Ryan Moore is jetting straight back from Kentucky to ride the filly suggests they have plenty of confidence in her. This nice ground should be ideal as well – Gleneagles thrived on a quicker surface – and I expect to see a very bold effort indeed from the daughter of Galileo. 11/4 could look a very big price come the end of this contest and I have a feeling she’ll go off much shorter.
Stablemate I Can Fly is an interesting rival, being such a lightly-raced filly who made a satisfactory reappearance in mid-April, finishing third in a heavy ground 1000 Guineas trial at Leopardstown. Clearly she’ll have to come on plenty for that, but it does seem as if she’s a potential improver who’s unexposed at a mile.
I Can Fly was a length behind Roger Varian’s Altyn Orda in the Oh So Sharp Stakes though, and that filly’s reappearance run in the Nell Gwyn promised much for this step up to 1m and with some match practice under her belt. I think Altyn Orda could well confirm the form with O’Brien’s apparent second string and even come close to reversing the form with her conqueror that day, Soliloquy, who seems to be the subject of plenty of support.
Charlie Appleby’s charge had the run of the race in that Newmarket Group 3 over seven furlongs and I don’t think she’ll find it quite as comfortable here. Although Soliloquy has shown plenty in her three starts so far, her two wins have come when she was allowed to dominate and in small-ish fields – the 1000 Guineas is a totally different type of race and even though her supplementary entry suggests that connections are confident of a return, she might just find one or two too streetwise or too good. Interestingly, Richard Hannon’s Vitamin beat Soliloquy on the Godolphin filly’s racecourse debut and even though Vitamin had race fitness on her side on that occasions, it’s a formline worth looking at given Hannon’s filly is 50/1. She hasn’t been seen since though, so she’ll clearly have to have come on a lot and be on top of her game, but with Jim Crowley booked, she might outrun those odds.
Godolphin’s other filly, Wild Illusion, possibly won’t be suited by the drying ground but still can’t be discounted given her top-class form in the book. She won the Group 1 Marcel Boussac in October at Chantilly on soft ground in good style and clearly gets a mile a very well, in fact that effort gives her the highest rating in the field. She did win on her racecourse debut at Yarmouth on Good to Firm ground, but the race looked an average one and her recent gallop in front of the cameras did reveal a rounded action that surely wouldn’t want to be tested too much on very quick ground. However, if the ground is good and there is plenty of pace in the race, she could be very much overpriced at 9/1 and it could be an overreaction to the fact William Buick rides her stablemate – James Doyle isn’t exactly a bad replacement!
Fillies’ Mile winner, Laurens, always looked as if she’s make up into an even better three-year-old and this is the perfect place to prove that with conditions, track and everything looking inher favour. Connections think she’s done well over her break and that Group 1 winning form certainly entitles her to plenty of respect. However, Karl Burke’s filly has a line of form through Polydream, who beat her at Deauville in August, that suggests Wild Illusion may have the beating of her given that Polydream could only get to a length and a half of the Godolphin filly in the Boussac.
Others to mention include Mick Channon’s Dan’s Dream who was a nice winner of the Group 3 Fred Darling at Newbury, but she might just be one who needs plenty of cut in the ground to be seen at her best, while Liquid Amber is a fascinating Irish runner, this time from the stable of Willie McCreery. She was last seen hacking up in a Group 3 at The Curragh, defeating some useful O’Brien fillies, and falls into the ‘could be anything’ category. If the Kitten’s Joy filly has improved again for the jump to three years old, she could be a very big price at 16/1. Still, they’ll all have to go some to catch O’Brien’s number one here.
HAPPILY – 1pt win @ 11/4 (bet365, Sky Bet)
4.10 – Havana Gold Maiden Stakes (AF)
There isn’t a lot to go on here with just two of the seven runners having experience under their belt.
Barend Boy ran at Leicester last Saturday and was well-backed but he was let down by his inexperience in the race. He was hampered leaving the stalls and forfeited quite a lot of ground and although it took a while for the penny to drop, he picked up well under hands and heels in the final furlong to be beaten just over a length at the line. He might well have finished a little closer but for stumbling inside the final furlong and as long as this race doesn’t come too soon, you would expect him to put his experience to good use here.
The other runner with experience is Smile A Mile who was also well-backed on his debut at Newcastle a couple of weeks ago but only managed to beat one home. He had reportedly been working well ahead of his debut and being a half-brother to smart two-year-old Buratino, it would be no surprise to see him step forward on what he showed there. His stable have already had a number of 2yo winners this term, so I would expect him to put up a much better showing on Sunday.
However, there are some excellent pedigrees amongst the newcomers including Fanaar who is by leading stallion Dark Angel. William Haggas’ colt cost his connections £240,000 when he went through the sales ring as a yearling and although the yard have only had three 2yo runners so far, one won first time out, so he should be pretty straight for his racecourse debut.
Another yard who have been amongst the winners with their juveniles is that of Clive Cox and he is represented here by Konchek. The colt is by Lethal Force and the early signs last year were that he was putting plenty of speed into his stock. This colt is a half-brother to the smart Levitate and he looks one of the more likely newcomers to take a hand.
The Hannon stable has long been associated with 2yo success and although they aren’t as prolific in that area as they once were, any juvenile from the yard is worthy of respect. They have had three winners already this term but they tend to be improving for their first run, so I will pass over Coco Cheval on this occasion.
Another stable whose juveniles often improve for their first day at school are Andrew Balding’s and Oloroso is just their second 2yo runner of the season. He is reportedly well thought of at home but I would not be surprised to see him come on for the run.
Taking all of that into account, the one I like the look of is FLY THE NEST who represents last year’s winning stable of Charlie Appleby. The colt is a half-brother to multiple 2yo winner Rusumaat and is by leading 2yo stallion Kodiac. The stable have only had two 2yo runners so far but one was good enough to win a maiden at the Craven meeting and the other was well-backed, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this colt attract market support. The yard made a very good start with their 2yos last year and with the rest of the yard in very good form at present, I suspect he will be expected to run well. He will probably have to be above-average to get the better of those with experience on debut but he has a pedigree that suggests he could be a high-class 2yo and he gets the tentative vote in what is likely to be a very informative affair.
FLY THE NEST – 1pt win
4.45 – Tweenhills Pretty Polly Stakes (Listed Race) (MW)
A small field for this Listed contest and it does look as if the beautifully bred LAH TI DAR is definitely the one to beat after her runaway debut win at Newbury two weeks ago. She absolutely cruised through that contest before lengthening away powerfully and she looks every bit as good as her similarly-named mother and relatives. John Gosden is a dab hand with top fillies and he certainly looks to have another one on his hands here, so the rest will have a fair bit to do to keep her from making it two from two.
The only knock is that she has very little experience and she comes up against some fillies that have plenty. The Charlie Appleby-trained Expressiy has nine runs under her belt already, including three creditable runs on dirt in Meydan, so she’s race fit, in form and ready to go. She may be more exposed than the others but has plenty of strong form to her name and is a solid yardstick.
Stablemate Espadrille isn’t quite so experienced but her three runs have seen steady improvement, culminating in an impressive reappearance run at Chelmsford a month ago. She bolted up in what looks a half decent novice race there and has certainly come on plenty over the winter. The switch back to turf is a question mark, but I think she’s a nice filly in the making and should go well.
The only other realistic challenger to Gosden’s filly is the daughter of Frankel, Qazyna. Roger Varian’s filly was a very impressive winner over a mile at this track on her reappearance and looks to have made giant strides over the break – she looked a powerful sort in the parade ring beforehand and backed up that impression as she travelled into the race with ease, going clear on the bridle and being pushed out to a three and a half length win. She beat some nicely bred sorts there comfortably without going for everything and will surely have plenty more to come. The worry for this filly would be the trip – I’m not sure she needs further than a mile just yet and might find herself being outstayed by LAH TI DAR in the final furlong, but that’s not to say she might not have her looking in some trouble at the 2 pole – this is a nice filly for sure and she’s in excellent hands.
LAH TI DAR – 2pts win
5.20 – Qipco Supporting British Racing Handicap (KM)
The final race of the weekend looks a tricky little handicap. A number of the represented trainers are in good form and that looks the best place to start. The Hugo Palmer trained Dukhan looks likely go off favourite and the trainer is 5/23 at the time of writing with his runners in the last 14 days. He was just touched off on the line at the Craven Meeting and I would expect another bold show from him back over course and distance. He has performed well after a break, so might not improve much for the run and may need to in order to win this. Bow Street ran in that race and may struggle to turn the tables when looking as though the mile and a quarter was stretching his stamina.
Mick Channon horses are flying at present and Trumps Up could add to his tally. Off bottom weight and reunited with John Egan, he looks as though he will appreciate the step up in trip and should go well on the ground, after winning twice over seven furlongs at two. His only disappointing run was when making his handicap debut at Ripon, without the assistance of today’s jockey.
He’s Amazing makes his handicap debut and ran a promising first race of the season over a mile at Newbury in April and should appreciate the step up in trip, keeping on well over a mile.
The James Tate trained Grecian Spirit performed well at Wolverhampton behind the William Haggas trained odds on favourite Martineo and could break his maiden tag now stepped up in trip, but might find easier opportunities.
However, despite there being a number of promising well handicapped horses in the race I like the chance of KITAABAAT trained by Owen Burrows, he won a nice little Novice Stakes at Sandown in September from the John Gosden trained Sevenna Star (won the bet365 Classic Trial (Group 3) at Sandown last weekend), travelling well throughout, quickened up nicely and the runner up was probably flattered as he idled in front. He looked one to follow as a three-year-old and looks as though he might be well treated off his mark of 88.
KITAABAAT – 1pt win
NAP: LAH TI DAR (4.45)
NB: WUHEIDA (2.20)
Paul Ferguson’s Bet of the Day
4.45 Newmarket – Tweenhills Pretty Polly Stakes (Listed)
John Gosden’s beautifully bred filly made a striking debut at Newbury recently and is fancied to take the step up in class in her stride, in Sunday’s Listed Pretty Polly Stakes.
By Dubawi and out of Dar Re Mi, she is a full sister to So Mi Dar, who won the Musidora Stakes in 2016 and, given the impression she made on her racecourse debut, it will be disappointing if she isn’t able to maintain her 100% record and book her ticket to Epsom in style.
She travelled well at Newbury and quickly put the race to bed, lengthening away in the manner of a top-class prospect in the closing stages. Lah Ti Dar will be a warm order here, but ought to justify it and the 12-1 for the Oaks might look quite big around 4:50pm.
LAH TI DAR 1pt win
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