The first Flat racing Classics of the season take place on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile this weekend with the QIPCO 1000 Guineas the feature race on Sunday.
Here is the preview of today’s big race, complete with all the day’s selections and our idea of a Lucky 15 (four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold).
RACE OF THE DAY: QIPCO 1000 GUINEAS
3.40 Newmarket 1m
FORECAST: Minding (5/4), Lumiere (9/2), Ballydoyle (5/1), Nathra (10/1), Illuminate (14/1), Alice Springs (16/1), Jet Setting (16/1), Turret Rocks (16/1), Midweek (20/1), Mix And Mingle (25/1), Robanne (33/1), Blue Bayou (50/1), Fireglow (50/1), Sharja Queen (50/1), Aljazzi (66/1), Epsom Icon (100/1)
ANALYSIS: The mile Classic for three-year-old fillies has thrown up a few shock results over the years, with the last five favourites beaten. Aidan O’Brien’s fillies are always to be respected, but the master of Ballydoyle has won this race twice with Virginia Waters (2005) and Homecoming Queen (2012).
He holds a strong hand in today’s renewal, with a trio of top-class representatives in Minding, Ballydoyle and Alice Springs.
Minding (above) is the daughter of the outstanding sire Galileo and her superb juvenile campaign ended with victories in both the Moyglare Stud Stakes and Dubai Fillies’ Mile. Both Group 1 races were win in scintillating fashion.
Her sole defeat in her last four runs last season came at the hands of stablemate Ballydoyle over 7f in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at the Curragh.
While Minding is likely to go off a warm order, Ballydoyle looks the value against the favourite, having looked tailor-made for the mile when going down by three-quarters of a length in the Moyglare when the ground was on the heavy side of yielding.
On her last run in October, she scored over a mile in the Prix Marcel Boussac on better ground, with Turret Rocks second, and with the ground starting to dry out at Newmarket, Seamus Heffernan’s mount could be the one to upset the applecart.
O’Brien also saddles Alice Springs, who was easy to back on testing ground for her seasonal debut at Leopardstown, when a beaten third to Jet Setting, who has been supplemented for the race at a cost of £35,000 by Curragh trainer Adrian Keatley.
Lumiere, the mount of William Buick, is trained by Mark Johnston. She has not been seen since landing the 6f Cheveley Park Stakes by half a length from Illuminate in September. Lumiere loved the sound surface and made all the running. She may well stay the extra 2f but has yet to try it. She is a half-sister to a 1m4f winner.
The John Gosden-trained Nathra took the Nell Gwyn by a length and a half with Robanne a fast-finishing third (below, extreme right). The latter, trained by William Knight, may relish this extra furlong and could be value to make the frame at around 20/1.
CRYSTAL ZVEZDA (Newmarket 2.25) has not really gone on from her Listed race win at Newbury in May last year (below) but she should make a better four-year-old. Tenth in the Oaks when upped in class and trip, she was not beaten far in the Yorkshire Oaks over 10.5f thereafter. She signed off the season with a quarter-length defeat by Chain Of Daisies in the Listed Severals Stakes in good to soft ground at Newmarket. She is back in Group 2 company for the Dahlia Stakes and it does not look the strongest renewal.
FIRST VICTORY (Newmarket 4.50) has a fair chance of landing the Pretty Polly Stakes for Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor. The daughter of Teofilo won twice over 7f at Newmarket last year and while a close-up sixth in the Nell Gwyn on her seasonal reappearance, she raced keenly in a tongue-tie and probably needed the run. She should be a different proposition this afternoon.
MAINSTREAM (Salisbury 3.50) pulled hard when winning an extended mile maiden at Nottingham on his second start, but Sir Michael Stoute’s three-year-old is likely to have a change of bit, which will help him settle for his seasonal debut. Owned by HM The Queen, he looks to have a fighting chance on his handicap debut off a mark of 81 providing he has learned to relax.
SIXTIES SUE (Hamilton 3.55) has two wins from 21 starts and is now finding her true level, yet she has a decent chance of landing the 5f EBF conditions stakes for trainer Mick Channon. The daughter of Sixties Icon has tackled Listed company in four of her last six starts and was not disgraced in a hot heat at Bath on her penultimate start. Dropped into a decent handicap at Sandown last time, she was a fine third to Willytheconqueror and a replication of that level of form will see her regain the winning thread.
NEWMARKET: 1.50 Oceanographer, 2.25 CRYSTAL ZVEZDA (NAP), 3.00 Huntsmans Close, 3.40 Ballydoyle, 4.15 Top Score, 4.50 First Victory, 5.25 Mengli Khan
HAMILTON: 1.40 Johnny B Goode, 2.10 Jacob’s Pillow, 2.45 Innocent Touch, 3.20 Celtic Power, 3.55 Sixties Sue, 4.30 Steccando, 5.05 Red Paladin
SALISBURY: 1.35 Harlech, 2.05 Winterlude, 2.35 Mutarajjil, 3.10 Stormy Clouds, 3.50 Mainstream (nb), 4.25 Forth Bridge, 5.00 Make Music, 5.35 Choral Clan
SLIGO: 2.20 Set To Fire, 2.55 Midst, 3.30 Ecoeye, 4.05 Sufoof, 4.40 Inis Meain, 5.10 Burma Star, 5.40 Sword Fighter
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