THE eagerly awaited first classics of the season take place this weekend at the home of flat racing, Newmarket, where the star two year olds have the chance to fulfil their potential and contest the 1000 and 2000 Guineas.
The time for discussion is over, as the anticipation swells into action with the QIPCO 2000 Guineas on Saturday, and the QIPCO 1000 Guineas on Sunday.
The 2000 Guineas market has been dominated all year by the Henry Cecil trained FRANKEL, who ended his two year old season unbeaten and crowned European two year old thoroughbred of the year. He will face a maximum of 14 rivals come Saturday and that number could be reduced further depending on ground conditions.
Frankel demonstrated that he had developed over the winter, winning his prep race, the Greenham Stakes at Newbury. It is very hard to oppose such a superstar and would be vindication for trainer Henry Cecil who, this weekend last year, had a Guineas win stolen from him in the steward’s room. I think he will win, and win easily, before going on to have a fantastic three-year-old career.
Each way value could lie with the Godolphin horse CASAMENTO formerly trained by Mick Halford. He was mightily impressive last year when winning the Racing Post Trophy under Frankie Dettori, and is expected to go on to run in the Derby. Frankie could ride him or his stablemate Saamid, who was disappointing behind Frankel in the Dewhurst. Should he choose Casamento, which I expect him to do, then look for the price to shorten from its current 16/1.
The QIPCO 1000 Guineas is a lot more open affair, with the current favourite, the Freddie Head trained MOONLIGHT CLOUD the favourite at 9/2. It looks a very open race, with lots of unanswered questions.
The favourite Moonlight Cloud is at the top of the market, following a very promising prep run where she defeated Hellborine. The George Strawbridge owned filly is definitely worth a punt at her current price and has the best form in the book behind Misty For Me. The recent run of Moonlight Cloud has proven she has wintered well.
Misty For Me was most impressive winning her two Group 1 races, including the Moyglare Stud Stakes, a race where Memory, one of Saturday’s rivals, blotted her copybook. However the vibes on the Aidfan O’Brien runner have been poor and she has gradually eased out to 12/1 from 7/1, just a month ago, which could hint that she has not wintered well, may not like the fast ground, or is not ready for the day.
Either way, it could pay to avoid her in this instance. The other highly touted juvenile is MEMORY, winning of the Albany and Cherry Hinton stakes, en route to being crowned Champion two-year-old filly. Her only defeat came when finishing fourth at the Curragh in the Moyglare (G1) race, when she was never going well, and clearly wrong on the day. Word is that she has thrived over the winter and did an impressive piece of work on the gallops at Newbury.
2000 Guineas – Frankel 5pt Win 8/15 & Casamento 1pt EW 16/1
1000 Guineas – Moonlight Cloud 3pt Win 9/2 & Memory 2pt Win 6/1