1.50 Newmarket – Qipco Supporting British Racing (Handicap)
We have a competitive handicap over 1m4f to start day two of the Guineas meeting and the first one to mention is Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Farquhar who was a winner over course and distance in October. His only subsequent start came in the November Handicap at Doncaster but having started slowly he never really got into the race and the heavy ground probably wasn’t to his liking either. He enjoyed a fine season last year if he can build on that, he should be in the mix.
Another progressive four-year-old is Andrew Balding’s Montaly who continued to improve as the season went on last year. Having stayed on well to win at Haydock, he ran better than the finishing position suggests when eighth at Ascot on his final run. He got a long way behind the leaders that day and despite finishing his race off to good effect, he could not make up the ground. He should be capable of resuming his improvement and looks to have strong each-way claims.
Amanda Perrett also looks to have a strong contender in ASTRONERUS who got off the mark at the July meeting last summer. Having stepped up to 1m4f after that, he was beaten a nose at Ascot in August before chasing home Battersea in fourth at the same venue in September. He made his seasonal reappearance at Pontefract at the beginning of April and shaped well although the ten furlongs was probably inadequate for him. He should come on for that run and he looks a big player.
2.25 Newmarket – Charm Spirit Dahlia Stakes (Group 2)
Andre Fabre’s runners always deserve a second look in Britain, mostly because he tends not to send them over unless he feels they will do themselves justice. Here he is represented by Fintry who looked a filly of the highest order when winning with plenty in hand at Sandown last season. She cruised into contention that day and was only pushed out to score in good style. She was no match for Integral in the Sun Chariot and probably paid for trying to take her on as she lost second in the closing stages. She is still lightly-raced and looks justified in her place at the head of the market.
However, with nine runners it may be better to look for each-way value and it may be best to side with Sir Michael Stoute’s BRAGGING who improved as many of the yard do during her three-year-old campaign, winning three times and finishing second in Group 3 at Doncaster on her final start. Stoute has saddled five winners of this race in the last decade and obviously feels this filly should be up to this sort of class. She does have a bit to find with the market leader but she has a similar profile to some of the yard’s previous winners and could represent a bit of value.
3.00 Newmarket – Havana Gold Handicap
Kevin Ryan’s Blaine rediscovered the best of his form last season winning at York, before finishing a running-on second in the Ayr Gold Cup behind Louis The Pious. He was stepped up to seven furlongs for his final start of the season where he raced keenly but still ran well to finish fifth. Not a lot went right for him over an inadequate five furlongs on his return but that should have put him spot on for this and back over six he looks to have strong claims.
Mick Channon’s Shore Step was successful on his last two starts last season, making all at Ascot and Doncaster. He only went up 4lb for his latest success and if he is fully wound up for his reappearance he should be right there once again. Mick Channon has managed to secure the services of Pat Smullen and he looks a strong contender.
However, the marginal preference is for GAMESOME who improved throughout that season and was unfortunate not to get his head in front against older rivals at Windsor in June. He ran in the Group 3 Abernant Stakes over course and distance and having been held up, finished his race well to finish sixth. This sort of class should be more suitable for the time being and on the back of that run, I fancy him to go very close.
3.40 Newmarket – Qipco 1000 Guineas Stakes
Jim Bolger’s LUCIDA heads the market for the first fillies’ Classic of the season having contested several of the top races last season. She found only Cursory Glance too good in the Moyglare in Ireland but got her head in front in the Rockfel, beating another of today’s rivals Fadhayyil. She was a little disappointing when beaten favourite in the Fillies Mile but the soft ground would not have been to her liking that day and she shouldn’t be written off on the back of that run. Her trainer has spoken positively about her throughout the winter and she looks the one they all have to beat.
Jellicle Ball also deserves a mention having finished second in the Fred Darling on just her second start. She was still showing signs of greenness as she was slowly away but she picked up well in the closing stages and the extra furlong should be in her favour. I’m pretty sure that we haven’t seen the summit of her ability yet and she looks an interesting runner at a bigger price.
The final one to consider is David Simcock’s Terror who I quite fancied for the Nell Gwyn before she was withdrawn on account of the ground. Having bolted up in her maiden, she was pitched into Group 1 company and was fourth behind Tiggy Wiggy, Anthem Alexander and High Celebrity. She won on her final start when dropped back to Listed company and was well on top that day. She has only ever raced over six furlongs so the mile trip is a bit of an unknown but she looks a filly of some ability and she could be a lively outsider at around 25/1.
4.15 Newmarket – Harbour Watch Future Stars Maiden Stakes
There is hardly any form to go on here but Richard Hannon’s Dheban looks likely to be a nice colt having been purchased for 240,000 guineas as a yearling. He is related to a first time out winner in Nonchalant and as we know the Hannon team tend to do well with their juveniles. Obviously it is hard to know which is the first string as Frankie is the retained rider for Al Shaqab so gets the ride here but he looks to have a chance.
Charlie Hills’ SAHREEJ is bred to be speedy being related to two sprinters and fetched 160,000 guineas as a yearling. His sire Zebedee has already proved adept at siring precocious horses and the owners juveniles tend to be fairly clued up on their first run. He gets the tentative vote to land the spoils.
I should also mention a potential outsider in the shape of Gay Kelleway’s Zebstar who is another son of Zebedee. We saw the first two-year-old bought at a breeze-up sale win earlier in the week and this colt was purchased for £37,000 at the same sale. John Egan has been booked to ride and teamed up with Kelleway to ride a 40/1 second in a juvenile race at the Craven meeting. He could be a lively outsider at a big price.
4.50 Newmarket – Tweenhills Stallions Pretty Polly Stakes (Listed Race)
This looks a wide-open contest and it will be interesting to see if any of these fillies can stake their claims for Oaks glory later in the campaign. James Tate has made no secret of the regard in which he holds Namhroodah who won a Kempton maiden in November. She showed plenty of signs of greenness that day but rallied well having been headed and stuck her neck out to win by a head. The step up in trip should be no problem for her and she looks one of the more interesting contenders.
John Gosden has his string in fine form at the moment so we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the chances of Jazzi Top. She improved for the step up in trip to win readily at Kempton in April and this further distance should also suit her. She is a half-sister to dual Group 1 winner Izzi Top and should go close.
The preference however is for ZANNDA who got off the mark when upped in trip at Leopardstown last time. The runner-up that day has been beaten in Listed company since but connections have put the visor on this filly for the first time, so probably feel that should eek out further improvement. Dermot Weld does not have many runners here at Newmarket and I think it is significant that he is sending her over here. She should be ready to go having already had a run and is marginally preferred to the other two fillies.
5.25 Newmarket – Qatar Racing Handicap
GLOBAL FORCE improved for the step up in trip to get off the mark in good style at the Craven meeting. He made the running before quickening up smartly in the closing stages under James Doyle and won with two lengths to spare at the line. He has been given a mark of 94 to get him started and whilst it is stiff enough first time in a handicap, he looks capable of being better than that in the future.
At a bigger price, Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Murgan is of interest on his first start in handicap company. He set a strong pace in a Newbury maiden last time but managed to keep it up to finish fifth in the end. He should be a little less free on the back of that run and a mark of 82 looks fair enough. This race has been won by some nice horses in the past and this colt should be able to progress now handicapping.