A wide-open 2,000 Guineas bodes well for the 2019 flat racing season, in which new stars look sure to emerge. Seymour Biz casts his eye over the renewal of this historic encounter and provides his Lucky 15 selections. Find all of his UK racing previews in his weekly column Saturday Horse Racing Tips.
The first Classic meeting of the year is is upon us as we look forward to the Guineas races at Newmarket this weekend. The colts 3-year-old mile Classic is backed up by the Spring Lodge, Jockey Club and Palace House Stakes at headquarters on Saturday, along with an excellent card on the beautiful Sussex course at Goodwood. It is followed on Sunday by the fillies Classic for which I can see no further than Skitter Scatter, now trained by John Oxx, who can add to last season’s four victories. I looked at the 2000 Gns earlier in the month and my three main contenders have stood their ground after the defections of some of the Irish and French contenders, and of course, the main protagonists from John Gosden’s yard. I have re-reviewed the race and there could be some value to be found further down the betting. So here are my thoughts for this Saturday and the tips for a Lucky 15.
Starting at Goodwood with the Goodwood May Food Festival Handicap at 2.40. Top weight Three Saints Bay was a winner last time out at Musselburgh but David O’Meara’s colt is high enough in the handicap now. Mark Johnston sends out Love Dreams after his run on the all-weather at Kempton where he ran second, he is a course and distance winner and seems to run well early in the season. Whitefountainfairy from Andrew Balding’s yard won on his seasonal reappearance last year at Lingfield. He has been plying his trade on the all weather this year without success but could put up a show here. The one I like the look of is Qaroun from Sir Michael Stoute’s stable, a potential Listed class colt. Second on his seasonal reappearance last month at Chelmsford should set him up for this, he is a course and distance winner and seems to go well early in the season.
Moving north to Newmarket and the first race on the Guineas card is the Spring Lodge Stakes at 1.50. The bookies choice for this handicap is Power Of Darkness trained by Marcus Tregoning. He was a dual winner last season and ran an excellent second to the top rated Berenger on his reappearance last month, only going down by a head. The Queen has a runner here in the shape of Elector trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the gelding has never been straightforward and I think is best watched on his first run of the season. Also having his first run of the season is Al Muffrih who won first time out last year in May, then ran poorly in June, he has not been seen since and has been gelded in the meantime, he is another I think is best watched at this stage of his career. Top weight Vintager ran flat on his reappearance here at Newmarket after wintering in Dubai. Charlie Appleby’s charge seems to be struggling after his heroics here last July. The field seems talented but quirky so I will side with Power Of Darkness due to his consistency and race fitness.
At 2.20 is the Zoustar Palace House Stakes and this Group 3 contest has, as usual, attracted a top class set of entries. At the top of the betting is Aidan O’Brien’s Sergei Prokofiev, a course and distance winner. O’Brien is not usually known for his sprinters but this classy individual had been running well in Ireland and was brought here to HQ last October and justified favouritism to take the Cornwallis Stakes. Mabs Cross won this last year prior to going to Longchamp and taking the Abbaye, but she has a 7lb penalty for that win which could hold her back here. Another course and distance winner is El Astronaute, John Quinn’s prolific winner. He had Tarboosh behind him when running second at Musselburgh last time, however all his wins have come in handicaps so this step up in class may be too much for him. One who may be able to make the step up to Group company is Major Jumbo, he ran an excellent second to Invincible Army at Doncaster last month. Trainer, Kevin Ryan must feel he is ready to take on the Group horses at this stage of his career after running so well in Listed company so he is the selection.
And so we come to the first Classic of the season with the Quipco 2000 Guineas Stakes at 3.35. It has been well reported during the past months about all the various withdrawals for a variety of reasons so I won’t hark back to those, instead I will look at the list of runners we have in front of us. What we do have is possibly one of the most open Guineas for years and that is shown by so many trainers taking their chance resulting in a large field of nineteen. My write up from three weeks ago named three horses that are left in the race and they are at the head of the betting. Two are from Aidan O’Brien’s yard, the favourite Magna Gracia, and second favourite Ten Sovereigns. It would be no surprise to see either win on their form and the fact that O’Brien has won this race on three of the last four occasions. The third favourite is William Haggas’s Skardu, who has been backed after his win here at Newmarket last month where he had Momkin, Set Piece and Royal Marine behind him. Further down the betting we have Martyn Meade’s Advertise for which Frankie Dettori has been booked to ride. This is Advertise’s seasonal debut as it was for the last four winners of the race. Kevin Prendergast’s Madhmoon has every chance, after two victories last year, he had a run at Leopardstown last month on ground that didn’t suit and finished second. That run could set him up for this as he will get better ground. But looking for value in the race I am taking a chance on Al Hilalee who has been supplemented for this race by Godolphin. Trainer Charlie Appleby is very astute and though the colt does not have the juvenile form of some of the other protagonists, he is unbeaten in two starts including a Listed race at Deauville where he had Tom Dascombe’s Great Scot behind him in third. That may well be the case again with Appleby’s charge taking the honours and Dascombe’s a place.
Saturday Lucky 15
2.40 Goodwood. Qaroun
1.50 Newmarket. Power Of Darkness
2.20 Newmarket. Major Jumbo
3.35 Newmarket. Al Hilalee