With the 1000 Guineas just hours away it is time to get my head into the form book for one last time, as I try to understand and convey what each fillie's capabilities are, so early in the season. Yesterday my early week preview for the colts Classic which was run yesterday saw me predict the first three home correctly, which I am told would have paid out just over £303 had I done a small tricast for a £1 combination stake.
Where it went wrong for myself yesterday is that I got too enthused by outsider Hermival, to the point where I started to believe that he could not lose. Before my eyes, I saw a visibly impressive, inexperienced colt would could match up to the very best his age group had to offer. Another error came after I had written up my own preview, I began to read other people's thoughts which ultimately changed my own mind, thus making me put small bets on other runners who I had initially dismissed as being no value! Not just terrible on my part, but incredibly numb!
The lesson I have learnt from yesterday is, that if your own research is logical and wholesome, do not let your mind be inflicted with ramblings from others. Leave your bets as they stand and cover all possibilities if you readily fancy two or three ahead of the competition.
Interestingly yesterday upheld the statistic of 1998, which was the last time the 2000 Guineas had been run on good to soft ground. This being that in both 1998 and 2012 the first three to finish had WON a race over 8f as a two year old!
Might be worth remembering for next time!
In 1998 the following day after the 1000 Guineas the ground dried up, leaving the fillies to race in conditions described generally as good. This means I have no starting point to aid my work, but hopefully we can still get a much needed result!
The favourite this afternoon is Maybe who is an unbeaten filly trained by Aiden O'Brien. It is quite alarming that his filly is a shorter price than was 3yo colt Camelot in the betting for yesterday's main event, this is because his overall record in this race is quite poor.
Having won the 2000 Guineas on several occasions, he tallies just one victory to date in the fillies Classic, that coming courtesy of his 2005 winner Virginia Waters. The factor that perhaps makes Maybe such a betting favourite is the fact she remains unbeaten after five juvenile outings with the potential to only get better this season. This daughter of Galileo is extremely well bred and destined to stay further than this, which makes it a daunting task for her to be a success in this race, I feel.
Just as I initially did for the 2000 Guineas, it is important to follow your gut instinct when analysing race form. A gut instinct combined with detailed reading and viewing of previous form make the analysis of racing that little bit more manageable.
Another fancied runner is the sole candidate from France this afternoon in the shape of the Jean-Claude Rouget trained Mashoora. This time around I do not fully rate the French form and can easily overlook this runner at a price that is 1/5th of the odds I initially backed Hermival at, this time last week. Bookmakers and punters alike may have gone overboard on what he has achieved so far, having visually looked impressive last time out when being eased down considerably.
Intriguingly when the race was last run in similar conditions it was 2010 with good to soft declared ahead of the race when Jacqueline ran out first past the post, only to be disqualified in the stewards room for interference. That was quite an astonishing run for a horse that had only previously won a maiden and shown very little in stakes company previously.
There was quite clearly a draw bias that year favouring the high stalls as all of the stands side runners produced solid runs and filled the first five placings. Little can be gleamed from the run in all honesty, but it did illustrate that a horse with mediocre form can hold claims in a race where ground is not essentially fast.
Group form is also not the be all and end all it would seem, not only did Jacqueline Quest finish first past the post, but also the winner Ghanaati in 2009 had only previously won two maidens from her two starts and had not even contemplated Group company prior to the Guineas.
The Godolphin pair on paper at least, look well above average and readily capable of taking a hand in a finish here. Offputting though is the absence through injury of Discourse and as a result of this Frankie Dettori keeps faith with Lyric Of Light as his potential Classic winner. This stablemate is indeed a Group 1 winner as a juvenile, but if Discourse was fully fit and healthy I would imagine her to be the more improved horse. As a result both of these mitigating circumstances I am reluctant, but willing to ignore both.
A filly who ran close and was unlucky on her debut to finish behind Lyric Of Light was Diala over 7f at this venue. She was held up in behind runners when her rival had been pushed along some 50 yards already, and she came home with a late rattle when in the clear all too late. Whilst this run was quite useful, and she did indeed confirm it with a maiden win next time out, to me it only dampens the likelihood of a Godolphin victory, rather than enhances the chance of a William Haggas trained success.
My brain evidently tells me that Aiden O'Brien holds the likely trump card with Maybe and her liking for rain softened ground will undoubtedly show her in a decent light. I could only mix her into some combination bets however and would never contemplate on betting her as a win only selection.
Intriguingly trainer John Gosden runs a once raced maiden winner in The Fugue and clearly sees her potential to put her into the mix in this competitive and elite race. One has to believe that her inexperience would cost her victory, even if she ran to her fullest potential. A strange well fancied runner in the betting is Moonstone Magic and her only form to date has been run in soft ground. Still unbeaten after two starts her trainer remains convinced that the ground is crucial to her chances and my instinct is that it will not have rained enough this filly to run out the winner.
My tentative alternative to the favourite and one to add to a few combinations is the lesser talked about outsider GRAY PEARL. This Charlie Hills filly was an authoritative winner of her maiden with the minimal of fuss and the third placed that day showed that she too was not backward by running behind a colt named Farraaj next time out.
Her next outing came in Group 2 company where she finished placed behind the classy Aiden O'Brien recruit Wading. She showed good early speed that day and ran a great race considering she lacked the same experience as those finishing around her.
There is potential now that she is a 3yo to expect better at trips around a mile and her trainer has pointed out this week that easy ground would probably enhance her chances. Her entries this season include the Irish 1000 Guineas equivalent and the Coronation Stakes, which confirms her suitability at this mile distance.
Her sire Excellent Art proved himself very versatile as to regards his trip with Group success at 5f to a mile, whilst her Dam was an unraced half sister to Cape Town (placed in Irish Guineas). Her breeding does not suggest a likely victory, but at her massive odds she could prove an excellent each way selection to finish behind race favourite Maybe.
THE BET: GRAY PEARL @ 40-1 (Stan James) EACH WAY
A more rewarding prospect is perhaps bet on just the place on Betfair at odds of 11-1.
After the fiasco of yesterday it could be worth a small forecast with the favourite Maybe.
Others running at Newmarket.....
2.05PM - Qipco Supporting British Racing Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2) 1m 4f.
An above average middle distance handicap is what I crave and this is no exception. Godolphin appear in the race for what I believe to be the first time and both their runners hold chances of sorts. The biggest chance of the two must surely go to the Frankie Dettori ridden Anatolian who looks destined to compete against tougher opponents than he faces this afternoon, in due course.
A winner last time out in a slowly run affair his previous form to that was over a shorter trip where he beat a horse rated only 69 very convincingly. That rival though has since won two more races and has been upped 16lb in the handicap where by Anatolian has only gone up 15lb since. There is nothing available to suggest that Anatolian is 15lb more improved since his handicap debut, but there is a fair chance that he is capable of much better and as a son of Pivotal, he should relish these conditions.
Due to the poor record of the favourite in this race (1 win in last 10 runnings) I am however keen to think outside of the box in the form of HURRICANE HIGGINS who appears in handicap company for the first time, having been racing against much stiffer competition previously. Now rated just 100 there is every reason to believe he can improve on that mark, as he has been gelded over the Winter.
Last season he looked to find his racing tough against Group horses, but his trainer Mark Johnston is one of the smartest trainers in racing and would not have been racing him in that company unless he felt he was capable. With a possibility that the gelding operation may have worked sufficiently, and now he has already had a prep run on the All Weather, he could run a huge race at a very interesting price.
There is no doubting that Joe Fanning would have had the choice of the two runners, ahead of Kieran Fallon who rides stablemate Ithoughtitwasover, and he can prove his odds to be all wrong should he be able to run to good effect, now that he has been gelded.a
THE BET: HURRICANE HIGGINS @ 20-1 (Betfair)
Place bets added may prove worthwhile.
2.35PM - Qatar Bloodstock Dahlia Stakes (Group 3) 1m 1f.
There is a possibility that the race favourite Timepiece may be inconvenienced by the going and considering she is quite often seen in a better light in the latter part of the season, I can ignore her at short odds. Captivator was an impressive winner of a Listed contest on the All Weather last time when touching off her opponent LAW OF THE RANGE, but her profile suggests she may be best caught fresh.
Considering that was the debut of her rival on polytrack she ran an above average race and can be seen in an even better light with that run now under her belt. Godolphin meanwhile run Khawlah who looked high class when last seen out some 407 days ago, but she must have had problems since then and I have my reservations over whether she will be back to her best immediately.
Izzi Top also runs here under a penalty for winning a soft Group 3 and she is opposed on account of that. If I had to select an alternative to the winner then it would be Khawlah and for those wishing to go the exacta route, I see potential in her and Law Of The Range to run out on top.
THE BET: LAW OF THE RANGE @ 9-1 (Bet365)