The flat turf season moves on apace this weekend with the first Classics’ of the year from Newmarket who had 25mls of rain on Wednesday evening turning the going soft although it is likely to dry out a little with no significant rain forecast between now and post time.
Fiorente is a 4-y-old I am looking forward to see running this year; with only four career starts he is open to bags of improvement but the slight concern he was taken out of a race at Newbury recently on account of soft ground. He is one to look out for going forward, but preference is for French raider Meandre (2.30) who won the Grand Prix de Paris last year for Andre Fabre before finishing sixth in the Arc when the highest placed 3-y-o colt.
The participation of the 2011 Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden (gives 5lbs to selection) gives the race a classy look and this is a well-above standard renewal of the Jockey Club Stakes.
Later in the card Muaraab looks well handicapped on the back of his excellent run in a valuable sales race last month, but I’m not convinced he will be at home under conditions and preference is for Mince (4.20) who can make up into a decent sprinter this term; leading apprentice Harry Bentley takes off a valuable 3lbs and he can reward each way support in what promises to be a cracker.
Camelot could turn the Qipco 2000 Guineas into a procession but he has won two five-runner races, is not guaranteed to appreciate the ground and at 6/4 must be overlooked given the desperate record of Racing Post Trophy winners over a mile in their 3-y-o season.
Take the favourite out and it looks a wide-open event; Top Offer is a colt I was taken with last season but trainer Roger Charlton took him out of the Greenham on account of the soft ground. In fairness the trainer said post race he didn’t want a hard race on the ground for the once-raced colt rather than say he wouldn’t go on the ground but his ability to handle conditions must be a concern.
It is possible that those who have had a prep run will come to the fore, and I give the nod to French raider Abtaal (3.10) 8/1 with BetVictor who will handle conditions and can make all under the stands’ rail for Christophe Soumillon. Note the big mover of recent days has been Fencing 25s into 16s at betvictor.com but subject to bullish noises in recent days despite the fact that he was put in his place by Camelot at Doncaster last autumn.
Bryan Smart has his string in good form and the hope is that Wells Lyrical (8.30) is straight enough first time to land Doncaster’s finale; the selection has been lightly raced in recent years but handles soft ground and has run well after a break a break in the past.
Vita Nova (2.15) will love conditions at Goodwood and looks to have a straight forward opportunity to make a winning reappearance; a more speculative selection is No Heretic (3.30) in the 1m 6f handicap for Newmarket handler David Simcock.
A Leicester winner over 12f last year, when he seemed to be distracted by the guest appearance of a fox, the beautifully bred colt has been well backed all three career starts and must go close. He is one who begins life as a handicapper on a very decent mark and can take advantage this term.
The 1000 Guineas on Sunday can go to the unbeaten Maybe (3.15) who is the subject of upbeat reports from Tipperary and that is a long way to go for an upbeat report! The Ballydoyle filly won’t have things all her own way with the Godolphin pair Lyric Of Light and Discourse also unbeaten and it promises to be a high-class renewal of the fillies’ classic.
We have a special offer at betvictor.com on the two Newmarket classics this weekend; place a bet on both races and we will give you a free bet to the average stake of your bets up to a maximum of £25 on the Chester Cup from the Roodeye on Wednesday.