Nick nailed 3 decent priced winners on 2000 Guineas day yesterday. Let’s see what he can do with the fillies classic today:
The fillies take centre stage on Sunday in the 1000 Guineas and the Group 3 Dahlia Stakes but first a look back at how Saturday’s selections performed. In the opener at Newmarket, Bold Sniper ran a good race to finish third, whilst Farraaj never really featured but finished a respectable 5th. Bold Sniper was well worth a crack at this trip but I imagine he will be doing his winning over further this season.
We were right to take on favourite Waila in the Fillies and Mares race at Goodwood as she folded tamely. Luckily for us, Special Meaning made all in a gutsy pillar-to-post victory and it was nice to be up and running with a winner @6/1. Back at Newmarket in the 5f Palace House Stakes, Sole Power had been smashed into 9/4 from 4/1 and he was truly magnificent. What a horse! Back to back winners @6/1 and 4/1 meant it was not quite relaxation time as we still needed one more winner to ensure a profit on the day.
Magic City was hugely disappointing in the 7f handicap at Goodwood. Something may have been amiss. Jack’s Revenge finished second but there was no catching the winner Absolutely So. We held a strong hand in The Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket with favourite Trading Leather (backed @11/8 on Friday) and second favourite Gospel Choir and it was the second favourite who duly obliged @6/1. Now I could relax! Pandar @40/1 caused a bit of an upset in the 5f sprint at Goodwood with our selection Ajjaadd nowhere to be seen. The Thirsk Hunt Cup was next and again we had the first and second favourites in Off Art (backed at 5/1 and gambled into 5/2) and Ingleby Angel (9/1). We went close to another decent priced winner but in the end we had to settle for second with Ingleby Angel.
And so to the main event and we got the upset we thought could happen. Unfortunately it wasn’t Outstrip but Night Of Thunder and I was left kicking myself a little. We did mention in this column that Night Of Thunder, Ertijaal and Charm Spirit could out run their massive odds. If one or two of you were on then let us know! All in all I cannot argue with a decent profit on the day.
Sunday’s meeting at Newmarket kicks off with a 1m 4f Class 2 handicap. This looks like a hot race and 8 of the 14 runners are making their seasonal debut. Over such a distance I would want one with match fitness on my side and that one is Van Percy @7/1. He made a winning return on the all-weather in March and has some decent form in the book. He probably needs to improve again but Oisin Murphy takes off 3lb and he has a run under his belt so I expect him to be in the shake-up. Of the others, C&D winner Amralah should be there or thereabouts if fully fit as will Urban Dance for Charlie Hills. However, the most interesting runner is Brian Meehan’s Absaab who makes his debut off what looks like a workable mark. With so many in with a shout I will just take Van Percy each-way in what is a pretty cautious approach to a competitive opener.
Channel 4 is covering the 1m 6f Class 3 handicap at Salisbury and we have a really interesting runner in Rockfella @12/1. Hi form figures leave him with plenty to find but his first time out figures read 113 including a victory in this race in 2012 off 5lb higher. I just can’t resist an each-way bet at that price. Albert Bridge @4/1 looks a major player as he has some fairly useful flat form, was second in this by a neck to Rockfella in 2012 and signed off the jumps season with a win at Plumpton. I’ll take this one win only with William Hill.
Back to Newmarket for the Dahlia Stakes over 1m 1f at 2.40pm and this looks like a cracking race. Integral is a worthy favourite for Sir Michael Stoute who has won no fewer than 5 of the last 7 renewals. She certainly has form in the book and is the highest rated filly in the race. However, dangers abound everywhere with dual listed winner Zurigha, French Guineas runner up Esoterique and Gifted Girl to name but three. Integral is the likeliest winner on form but 11/10 makes no appeal so I will sit this one out.
Next up at Newmarket we have the Class 2 6f handicap and it looks like another highly competitive race. My two against the field are Ninjago @11/1 and Seeking Magic @12/1. The former goes well fresh and represents the powerful Hannon/ Hughes combination. Seeking Magic raced 6 times last year on the Flat and was never out of the first three, winning twice and he is just so consistent in big field handicaps.
The 1000 Guineas looks wide open this year and the one I did quietly fancy, My Titania, was withdrawn leaving me scratching my head for suitable alternatives. This race has not been that kind to favourite backers and only 4 winners since Wince in 1999 have returned at single figure odds. Recent big priced winners include Homecoming Queen @25/1 (2012), Blue Bunting @16/1 (2011) and Ghanaati @20/1 in 2009. I actually like a few lively ones at a price and I’ll be backing them each way.
First up is Lady Cecil’s Joyeuse @20/1 (SkyBet and PaddyPower are offering ¼ odds, 4 places) and I am hoping the step up in trip brings about the required improvement to make the frame. She wasn’t beaten far in the Fred Darling and I thought she was putting in her best work at the end. She has to learn to settle better and the hood is on again but @20/1 I am prepared to give her a chance.
The next one is Roger Varian’s Princess Noor @33/1. She was beaten just ¾ of a length in the Cheveley Park Stakes by Vorda who is as short as 12/1 in the betting. The reason for the big price? Firstly she has never raced beyond 6f so you cannot say with any degree of certainty that she will stay 1 mile. Second, she was tonked by Kiyoshi in the Albany at Royal Ascot (beaten 8 ½ lengths) and by Lucky Kristale in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket. However, those were her 2nd and 3rd starts as a 2 year old. From there she won a Group 3 at Ascot and finished 2nd to Vorda in the aforementioned Cheveley. Those last two runs represent a massive improvement. At 33/1 I am prepared to chance my luck.
As if those two were not big enough outsiders, my third selections is Lady Lara @66/1. Fourth in the Fred Darling (beaten just 2 lengths) on her return I just think this one will out run her price. Kieron Fallon takes the ride and a huge step up is required, but she may just find it. She stays a mile (3rd behind Ihtimal in a Group 2 at Doncaster) and I’ll be having a few quid each way.
Those are my three against the field and at those prices I just hope one of them makes the four. Stakes have been kept small and can be considered “fun size”. Once again, best of luck whoever you are backing.
Newmarket 2.05pm Van Percy 7/1 each-way
Salisbury 2.20pm Rockfella @12/1 each-way & Albert Bridge @4/1
Newmarket 2.40pm No Bet
Newmarket 3.10pm Ninjago @11/1 and Seeking Magic @12/1 (both each-way)
Newmarket 3.50pm Lady Lara @66/1, Princess Noor @33/1 & Joyeuse @20/1 (all each-way, 4 places)