The Weekend Bulletin (Sat 6th May’17)
There was no joy from last weekend’s selections that ran in the B365 Gold Cup at Sandown with Rock The Kasbah faring the best in finishing in 6th place behind the shock 40/1 winner Henllan Harri.
This weekend sees the first Classics of the new Flat turf campaign with the 3yo colts locking horns on Saturday and the fillies taking centre stage on Sunday at Newmarket.
A little later on we will be sharing a few snippets from Nick Hardman’s weekend Big Race Coverage but just before we move on to those we have Alan Dudman’s thoughts on the aforementioned 2000 & 1000 Guineas.
Currently the long-time favourite Churchill was best-priced 11/8 for the first Classic of the Flat season although the signs are that he will likely go off shorter. There’s a lot to admire about the way Ballydoyle go about their business in terms of churning out top-drawer juveniles primed for Newmarket the following season – every season.
Earlier in the year O’Brien accounted for 11 of the 69 entries for the colts’ race, and it’s becoming rather predictable that in the battle of the “racing superpowers”, Godolphin is still falling short, a long way short.
Churchill is a massive colt with a huge amount of physical scope, and he breezed through his two-year-old campaign with typical O’Brien panache. From his five starts he collected Group 1 success in the Dewhurst and the National Stakes. He scored by over four lengths in the latter, but he beat a non-stayer in Mehmas.
I cannot find too many holes with Churchill but at the price it has to be a race to watch and hopefully savour.
The winner of the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket towards the end of the Flat calendar usually makes a case for 1,000 Guineas favouritism during the winter. Aidan O’Brien doesn’t quite have the stranglehold on this as he does with the 2,000, but he has the star two-year-old Rhododendron as the 15/8 favourite here.
Her price makes a lot more sense than Churchill’s 6/4 for a Classic, and she is worthy of her lofty position given the excellent juvenile campaign she produced. Her form is tied in with Hydrangea in some of the best fillies’ races from last term – and for those wags that like a flower forecast….OK let’s not go there.
Rhododendron really looked the part when winning the Fillies’ Mile, and she seemed to absolutely relish the fast ground and the time was a decent one too – eclipsing both previous O’Brien winners of the race in Minding (2016) and Together Forever (2015).
The only negative was the way she hung in the Group 1 Moyglare – a race she finished third in, and Hydrangea second. She wasn’t as impressive in winning the Debutante either – but both of those performances came with a bit of cut. She could just be a fast ground filly.
Roger Charlton’s Fair Eva is around 6/1, but I want to see more evidence of these Frankels at three years of age, as it’s a bit of guessing game if they train on. This filly was the one-time ante post favourite for the 1,000 Guineas and was impressive in winning the Group 3 Princess Margaret last term. However, that race didn’t really work out, and Fair Eva herself was beaten in the Lowther and the Rockfel – and as a potential Classic winner – you need to be winning those.
She lacked a turn of foot, whereas my original fancy, Sea Of Grace, possesses a decent one, and yet the William Haggas filly was available at 20/1 or bigger but unfortunately she now misses the race after the final decs were declared. She may well reappear in the Irish equivalent at the end of May and would certainly be of interest if she lines up.
Her journey to Haggas is rather unfortunate for legendary Irish trainer John Oxx – who trained this filly last year to win a Group 3 at the Curragh. Her owner (and he of Sea The Stars fame) took her and a couple of other three-year-olds to Somerville Lodge in Newmarket, and it’s another blow for a real true gentleman in Oxx.
I’ve mentioned her lovely turn of foot, and I also should pay tribute to a wonderful pedigree too. She ran in the Nell Gwynn at Newmarket on the 12th April and wouldn’t settle early on in the race. She quickened up well to join issue running into the Dip, but then her earlier keenness came back to bite her and she weakened on the run to the line. It would have been feasible to see her stepping up on that performance in the Guineas and reversing form with some of those who finished in front of her but we will have to hold fire now.
To find out what has caught the attention of our Big Race Guru, Nick Hardman, for the coming weekend click here to read on:-
Nick Hardman’s Big Race Selections – Sat 6th May’17
A good trends race and the qualifiers are Heir To A Throne, Hidden Rebel and Reaver. Hidden Rebel does not look all that well handicapped but the other two hold chances if progressing again in this. Spring Offensive ran well on reappearance in the Irish Cesarewitch and with a useful claimer on board he is not far off his last winning mark.
Heir To A Throne @10/1
Spring Offensive @8/1
Together We Can Win
Darren & Steve