We kick off todays TV action with a seventeen runner handicap over a mile and a half. With so many runners you know it’s going to be one that’s hard to decipher but never the less we will endeavour to do so.
The current favourite is Sir Michael Stoute’s Gothic. Representing the same connections as yesterdays second placed favourite Telescope. Clearly the yard have their horses in fine fettle which is something that is rarely said about this stable and it has to enter calculations but is too short a price to side with in such a short field.
One horse I do like the look of is the ever consistent Agent Murphy who is yet to finish outside of the top there. The horse is very lightly raced considering it is four years old and the Cape Cross colt is clearly highly thought of. Its third placed finish at Ascot last time out is decent form and although the price is short enough I can still see it being placed at least.
Of the remaining runners I always like Mark Johnston runners in these longer distance handicaps and he enters two in this. Unfortunately Fire Fighting is lumbered with top weight but fellow stable companion Watersmeet isn’t given such a heavy burden. The horse has been mightily impressive on the all weather and if it can make the same sort of strides on the turf it seems very over priced at around 16/1.
Looking through the rest of the field and cases can be made for several of the other entries with the ones I fear the most being Astronereus and Quest For More who only just missed my short list.
Agent Murphy (E/W if 9/2+)
The second race to be televised sees us take our one and only trip to Salisbury for a long distance handicap.
There may only be ten runners but it is equally if not more difficult to figure out than the first at Newmarket.
Despite the smaller field I am afraid I am going to go for two selections yet again.
Spectator comes from the Andrew Balding yard and has to have a fantastic chance but despite a great deal of consistency now sits at a price that doesn’t really reflect its true chances. Unlike some of these it has won over the trip but despite undoubtedly being the one to beat I think it may be open to one or two with more room for improvement and as such is avoided.
The horse that is milling in and around the forefront of the market is Clive Cox’s Le Maitre Chat. The Steve Drowne ridden four year old is blinkered for the first time and the Cox yard is starting to hit their stride. It is lightly raced and hasn’t finished outside of the top three in four of its five starts and definitely gets the nod in this.
William Of Orange represents decent connections but there are a few questions marks as to how well the Presscott stables have their horses and that is enough caution to make me look elsewhere.
Of the remaining runners I think Mick Channon’s Needless Shouting could be worth an each way punt. It has won over hurdles recently so will likely strip fitter than most of its rivals. It won relatively well that day and although this is a different task altogether it hails from a yard who are doing well.
Le Maitre Chat (WIN)
Needless Shouting (E/W)
We head back to flat HQ and take in our first group race of the day. An open looking contest for four year olds lies ahead of us and the French raider Fintry looks the worthy favourite. The Godolphin horse is definitely the one I would be going for if it wasn’t for the fact that the ground is currently good to firm. If it was good or softer than good I think the Fabre trained horse would be a shoe in but as such I’m going with the second favourite Bragging. Sir Michael Stoute’s horses are usually avoided at this time of the season but the horses form reads fantastically well including a creditable win at Newmarket last year. We all know the yard tends to do better with their older horses and I think this could really do well this season.
Rizeena on her day can trouble any horse but is so frightfully inconsistent you just can’t ever be certain wether you will see the good, the bad or the ugly with this filly.
Call me a tad crazy but Kleo could run above expectations in this. Far from the likely winner but represents good connections and if making the step up in class could surprise a few.
We step away from Newmarket for the final time today to take in a race from Scotland up in Hamilton. It’s yet another open looking contest that is run over a distance further than a mile and a half.
As mentioned in the first race we are covering today I often like Mark Johnston trained runners in handicaps over these sort of distances and he enters Notarised into this. The horse has been disappointing in the two starts its had this season but that means the horses handicap mark has dropped back to not too far off its previous winning one. Top jockey Silvestre De Sousa takes the reigns and considering this is a Scottish track then surely the Scottish trainer can do well here.
Lightly raced Aussie Andre has to get a mention but at a price below 3/1 to me it seems a very big over reaction considering the horse has only shown its best form on an artificial surface. There’s no doubt that the horse has ability but has to be taken on.
The old timer and nine year old Saptapadi could run a relatively decent race considering connections had a winner at Newmarket yesterday and the yard is clearly going well. The horse hasn’t won since 2010 but could do enough to sneak a place in a muddling field.
Five year old Aramist is the horse I fear the most with Kieren Fallon in the saddle and its great level of consistency it has to have a good chance. Add to this it is the only horse to line up that has won at Hamilton before and you can understand why it shouldn’t be readily overlooked.
The penultimate race and one before the second classic of the weekend sees a cavalry charge in the six furlong Havana Gold Handicap.
With so many runners lining up it’s been hard to find the ones I want to be with. I managed to narrow it down to five that I like and have been able to pick my best two from the bunch.
The horses that didn’t quite make my cut are Hillbilly Boy, Shore Step and Bahamian Boy.
Hillbilly Boy is a horse that I am convinced will go in this year and as it hails from a relatively small stable could go in at a great price. My slight concern here though is that six furlongs could be way too short a trip and it may start picking up much too late.
Shore Step comes here on the back of two decent wins at the end of last year and has the more than capable assistance of top Irish jockey Pat Smullen doing the steering. The horse is clearly talented but this may be a tad too soon as it doesn’t often do that well first time out. Definitely one to keep an eye out for later in the year so don’t be too perturbed if it doesn’t put its best foot forward today.
Finally Bahamian Heights may not have won since August 2013 but ran a great race when fourth at the end of last year. At the age of four it has a lot of room to grow compared to its rivals and if it has improved it is given a nice low mark to work off. The assistance of top Australian jockey Chad Schofield is also a great positive who rides the horse as his first ride over in the UK. My only worry is that a lot is taken on trust and in a race of this nature I needed a tad more convincing.
This now leads me onto my two selections, the first of which is the James Tate trained Ruwaiyan. The horse ended last year with muddling form but that was in arguably better company than this. It ran a great race to finish fourth in the Stewards Cup and a repeat of that sort of effort puts the horse bang in contention. With the addition champion jockey Richard Hughes taking the ride then this horse could come flying late when others are struggling up the Newmarket hill.
My second and final selection is Secretinthepark. We saw yesterday how well Robert Cowell and his team have their horses at the moment and with a course and distance win to its name this one has a fantastic chance. The horse goes well fresh and a change to this yard over the winter could bring about even more improvement from the five year old.
We end todays live action with todays big race, the 1,000 Guineas. The ladies take centre stage in this one as thirteen line up to find out which filly can improve on their two year old form.
The market leader is Lucida. Heralded as the best two year old filly last year with impressive victories including at Newmarket. I remember watching the horse that day and thinking what a machine she looked but a fifth placed finish at the end of last year over course and distance shocked me. Yes the ground went against her but it was far from bottomless that day. If the race was run on paper then the Bolger trained filly should win by a mile but as we know all too well with this sport it is run, not on paper, but turf and that is a whole different prospect.
Two fellow course winners that could be seen as overpriced are the unbeaten Irish Rookie and David Simcock trained Terror. Of the two I would side with Martyn Meade’s horse who has not just won over the course but over the course and distance as well. Terror is yet to step up to anything past six furlongs but I think it will appreciate the extra distance. My only slight concern with both is just how well they will act on firmer ground and although both may be worth an each-way punt I am unfortunately looking elsewhere.
I am option for another two course winners who have both already run this season and surprisingly neither of them are champion two year old Tiggy Wiggy.
My first selection is Godolphins Local Time who has been dominating over in Dubai. The horse hasn’t lost in its last six races and will relish the quicker conditions considering its exploits over seas. People are concerned that the horse has already won at a further distance but with the undulations at Newmarket you sometimes need a horse with a tad more stamina and Local Time should have a good chance.
The second selection goes to Richard Hannon’s Osaila. It is easy to forget that this horse has won two group threes, ran well at Royal Ascot and has placed in a group one race. She will love the firmer ground and is a very gutsy filly that represents a big stable. Frankie has been doing well at the start of this year and has ridden his fair share of Guineas winners before so knows what it takes to get a horses head in front at flat HQ. At just short of 10/1 this horse has a great chance of finishing placed or even better.
Local Time (E/W)
by Rory Paddock