Newmarket plays host to the first British Classics’ of the flat season this weekend with the unbeaten Henry Cecil-trained colt Frankel (3.15) currently 8/15 and likely to go off the shortest priced favourite of the 2000 Guineas since Nijinsky won the race back in 1970.
Having laid a bet of 550k to win 500k at 10/11 ahead of his victory in the Greenham Stakes we at victorchandler.com fear the worst, and the bottom line is he looks as near a certainty as death and taxes! Whatever the outcome of today’s race I don’t think we should be taking a price on the colt for the Derby as in my opinion he wouldn’t get a mile-and-a-half in a horsebox! He is a potential superstar but he looks all speed to me and I hope he bypasses Epsom.
Unbeaten Irish challenger Pathfork can give the favourite most to think about; winner of a Group 1 at the Curragh back in September trainer Jessica Harrington has not sounded too confident in the build up to the race but, in what looks a moderate renewal save Frankel, Pathfork can reward each way support at 5/1 although the recommendation would be to take the 9/4 without Frankel. Harrington is of course better known for her jumpers (horses not woolly ones) and do keep an eye out for unlucky Cheltenham loser Oscars Well at Punchestown on Friday.
Sunday’s 1000 Guineas looks wide open and connections of many of the leading contenders will be praying for rain between now and post time. French fillies’ have won two of the last three renewals and Freddie Head is likely to saddle the favourite Moonlight Cloud who impressed when winning at Maisons-laffite on her reappearance.
There is a strong British challenge led by Sir Michael Stoute’s Havant but she is unproven on fast ground and looks more of an Oaks type to me. Memory (3.15) looked a star at Royal Ascot last summer and is surely better than she showed at the Curragh last time. She should stay a mile and has been the subject of very favourable gallop reports in recent days. Richard Hannon believes this to be his best chance yet of winning the 1000 Guineas and I agree.
In recent days the money has come for the Barry Hills filly Make A Dance and she has a similar profile to the stable’s Ghanaati who won the classic back in 2009. She is reported to be burning up the Lambourn gallops and, although she must improve considerably on the form of her maiden success at HQ, she could easily run into a place.
Namibian belied his odds of 40/1 when running a cracker in a valuable sales’ race over today’s C&D earlier in the month and Joe Fanning takes over today but he may have to give best to Godolphin’s recent maiden winner Ocean War (4.55). The selection still holds an entry in the Derby and will get further in time, but there are at least two potential front-runners in the race which should bring the grey’s stamina into play.
Pastoral Player (3.50) looks the sort who could thrive as a 4-y-o for Hughie Morrison who has always thought a great deal of the gelding. He has, arguably, run his best race first time out in both previous seasons and must run well in the 27-runner 6f handicap. Edinburgh Knight another 4-y-o making his seasonal debut will be played late but if Tony Culhane can time his challenge and get the breaks at the right time he will be a threat to all.
Montparnasse just missed out on his debut for Kevin Ryan at Ripon earlier in the month having travelled well but he may have to give best to Andrew Balding’s progressive stayer Simenon (3.30, Goodwood) who finished runner up in the November Handicap when last seen on the track back in the autumn.
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