Good morning all,
There are plenty of punters who hold the view that Guineas Weekend is the start of the flat season. Well, the first two English Classics are now out of the way for another year.
What did we learn?
You can read my thoughts on both races inside the main piece. Plus, I have had a look at handful of races on a busy Bank Holiday.
Qipco 2,000 Guineas
It’s ten years since Frankel had destroyed his field to win the 2,000 Guineas. I doubt we saw a Frankel in this year’s race.
The betting suggested this year’s race was the most open in years. There was a late plunge on the Aidan O’Brien trained Battleground who was sent off the 9/2 favourite. Although his stablemate Wembley was the pick of the paddock for me.
In truth neither of the O’Brien horses ran well. Battleground didn’t seem to handle track and tamely folded when the tempo picked up three out. While Wembley who had run well to finish runner-up in last year’s Dewhurst found little for pressure and finished a well beaten 11th. He may have found the ground too lively.
Naval Crown set a strong pace from the off. He was only headed at a furlong out but still managed to hold on for 4th.
Poetic Flare had shown he had trained on from two to three when winning at Leopardstown on his seasonal reappearance. He was a little keen in the early stages but was in a prominent position which was the place to be. Taking the lead at the furlong mark he dug in well and got his nose down at the right time to hold off Master Of The Sea with Lucky Vega running well in third.
The runner-up settled well and came from further back than the winner and just failed by a short head. Any doubts about Lucky Vega staying a mile were dispelled and both he and the second will probably head for the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Plenty under-performed on the day, besides Battleground & Wembley. The well fancied Thunder Moon ran no sort of race and finished last. The supplemented Mutasaabeq found things a bit hot on just his third start and was another who struggled when the tempo quickened three out.
Van Gogh, the third Ballydoyle horse had been backed for the Derby. He never got competitive here but ran a respectable race on his seasonal return in 8th. He looked in need of the run and should improve as the season goes on.
It was a good race for me as the winner was my only selection in the race.
This is what I wrote in this column about Poetic Flare after his win in Leopardstown’s 2,000 Guineas Trial:
“It was a polished performance from the colt who has clearly trained on well from two to three. Poetic Flame is now firmly on the Guineas trail after this success”.
The fact that Naval Crown held on for 4th suggests we aren’t looking at vintage renewal of the race. Although as ever we won’t know until the end of the season.
Qipco 1,000 Guineas
In the run up to the first filly’s classic all the chat was about the once raced Aidan O’Brien trained filly Santa Barbara.
Aidan O’Brien did take the winners prize back to Ireland for the third successive year. However, it wasn’t the one that had been expected. It was the second-string Mother Earth well ridden by Frankie Dettori who upstaged her better fancied stablemate.
Frankie got a good tow into the race on the far side. He kicked his mount on at the top of the hill and it proved a race winning move. Taking it up two out she held on to win by a length from Saffron Beach.
Santa fails to deliver
It was massive run from Saffron Beach on what was probably the wrong side of the track. If she had been racing closer to the winner who knows she may have won.
Fev Rover ran a big race on her seasonal return. The first time cheekpieces had the desired effect. She helped to cut out the early running and boxed on all the way to the line to take third.
Santa Barbara lacked the experience to win a race like this on just her second start. The filly carried her head a bit high and hung slightly left under pressure in the final half furlong. A tall filly there should be more to come from her as the season progresses. The Oaks looks the likely next race for her and she’s a best priced 4/1 for Epsom.
Alcohol Free was the gamble of the race and indeed ended up going off the 5/2 joint favourite with Santa Barbara. You couldn’t say she didn’t stay the mile on the evidence of her 5th placing. I just don’t think she was good enough on the day.
Sacred travelled well in the early stages of the race but the Nell Gwyn winner clearly failed to stay the mile.
Statement who had shaped with promise when runner-up to Alcohol Free in the Fred Darling did too much in the early part of the race and folded quickly two out.
Like the colt’s classic we likely didn’t see the best of renewals. Mother Earth isn’t the biggest but she’s got a good engine and ran out a worthy winner. It will be interesting to see what direction Alcohol Free takes. Will she drop back to 6f or will they give the filly another try at a mile.
As for Santa Barbara the jury is still out. On pedigree she should be better over 1m 2f+. However, given her size I wonder how well she will take to Epsom. I also wonder whether she might prefer slightly easier going than she got on Sunday.
It’s a Bank Holiday so there is plenty of racing across Britain & Ireland today. Mind you the weather is set to be dreadful with heavy rain forecast. The first real rain we have seen for over a month.
The best quality action is at the Curragh which sees two Group races and two Listed races on an eight-race card.
2:00 – GAIN First Flier Stakes (Listed) – 5f
A 2-year-old race which looks to have plenty of depth to it.
Cadamosto looked a nice prospect when winning on his racecourse debut at Dundalk.
Cheerupsleepyjean clearly new her job when showing a nice turn of foot to win when winning over C&D 16-days ago. A speedily bred filly she’s open to more improvement and interestingly Jamie Spencer comes over for the ride. Could be a Royal Ascot filly although easy ground is an unknown.
Lord Gorgeous built on the promise of his Naas debut when winning at Dundalk 12-days ago.
Loveday finished 2 ¼ lengths behind Lord Gorgeous at Dundalk. However, that was his racecourse debut and he ran green. Capable of more improvement and connections apply the first-time visor. Lively outsider for a yard that saddled the winner of this in 2018.
3:10 – Coolmore Stud Circus Maximus Irish EBF Athasi Stakes (Group 3) – 7f
Champers Elysees was one of the most improved horses in training last year. Going from handicap company to winning the Group 1 Matron Stakes. The 4-year-old must give away a 5lb Group 1 penalty to her rivals on her seasonal reappearance.
Six of her rivals are 3-year-olds with the most interesting being the Aidan O’Brien trained Queen’s Speech. The daughter of American Pharoah won a C&D maiden (heavy) on her sole juvenile start. She’s open to plenty of improvement as a 3-year-old but the way she went through testing ground last time suggests she maybe at her best on rain softened ground.
4:20 – Dick McCormick Irish EBF Tetrarch Stakes (Listed) – 7f
Ace Aussie showed improved form when finishing 2nd to Poetic Flare in the 2,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown. He was doing his best work at the finish that day and is a worthy favourite to go on better.
Back in 4th, just 1 length behind was Notre Belle Bete. The colt was making his racecourse debut and his inexperience showed in the early stages. However, once the penny dropped, he was staying on well at the finish. Now runs in the colours of King Power racing.
4:20 – Notre Belle Bete – 4/1 @ Bet365 & Coral
Good luck with Monday’s bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk