The opening two Classics of the English flat racing season are just around the corner. Seymour Biz looks at the serious contenders. The Guineas meeting is always among the most eagerly-anticipated weekends of the year.
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THE 2000 GUINEAS (4th May)
All the talk is about the splints of Too Darn Hot and only the trainer John Gosden knows what is really going on. He was backed like he only had to turn up to win the Guineas and that may very well be the case, but now no-one is really sure if he will turn up at all. This has been reflected in the betting, he has dropped out to 9/4 from the 6/4 available prior to the news of his problems coming out when he was pulled from the Greenham Stakes last weekend. The unbeaten colt was fully expected to add to his tally of victories at Newbury before the problems were discovered and he is only in light training at present. Gosden also has Calyx high up in the betting but the trainer has hinted that sprinting may be his forte, he has an entry in the Commonwealth Cup. The French feel they have a great chance with Andre Fabre’s Persian King. A triple winner last year he came out at Longchamp for his seasonal reappearance last week and disposed of a strong field easily. One of the colts defeated by Persian King last year was Magna Grecia, one of Aidan O’Brien’s highly rated contenders. He finished last year winning the Futurity at Doncaster and his trainer has stated he could go straight to Newmarket without a run. Another of O’Brien’s Stars is Ten Sovereigns who won all three starts last year including the Middle Park, but he has yet to run further than 6f. Skardu, who won the Craven Stakes this week seeing off Royal Marine and Zakouski has shot up the betting and trainer William Haggas said after his victory that he does little at home but produces it on the racecourse. Charlie Appleby’s Breeders Cup hero Line Of Duty is in the lineup and must have every chance if he can reproduce that Churchill Downs form here on the undulations of Newmarket.
My value bet for the 2000 Guineas is Line Of Duty at 20/1 with Bet365.
THE 1000 GUINEAS (5th May)
The betting for the fillies crown has certainly been shaken up after the Craven meeting at Newmarket this week. Qabala, who was available at 66/1 earlier in the week, has been backed down to 4/1 favourite after her victory in the Nell Gwyn Stakes. Roger Varian’s filly won a 6f contest at Newmarket as a 2-year-old, that was her only outing last year and she came out this season in this important trial and won going away. But it remains to be seen if that form is good enough over an extra furlong. The second in the Nell Gwyn is also from Varian’s yard, Mot Juste. She ran four times as a 2-year-old and came good in her last two races winning both reasonably comfortably, but was firmly put in her place this week. Aidan O’Brien has always come to the Guineas meeting with a strong hand and this year is no exception. One of my Ten To Follow is an O’Brien filly called Fairyland, she had a great season last year culminating in two classic tussles with The Mackem Bullet. The final one of which was the Cheveley Park Stakes here at Newmarket. She is yet to race further than 6f but her trainer said after her victory that he always thought she would get a mile. Just Wonderful is another fancied O’Brien filly who came to Newmarket in September and won the Rockfel Stakes beating David Elsworth’s Dandu, who has franked that form by winning the Fred Darling at Newbury recently. Just Wonderful finished last year at the Breeders Cup finishing fourth on ground that didn’t suit but she did seem to get a mile. A horse I really like the look of is in John Oxx’s care and could turn his fortunes round after a poor season last year, that filly is Skitter Scatter, another of my Ten To Follow. Scatter Scatter has come through the ranks, winning a Group 3, then a Group 2, finally finishing up winning the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at The Curragh. Oxx stated that his filly would go straight to Newmarket and her big heart could take her a long way.
My value bet for the 1000 Guineas looks to be Skitter Scatter at 7/1 with Bet365. Best outsider Fashion’s Star 25/1.
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