Now that the flat season is up and running and in full flow, we have already reached the first two classics of the season.
This Saturday and Sunday on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile, the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas will go off and summon Spring time with the going proposed to be good to firm for both days.
The first of these big two races, the 2,000 Guineas, takes place on Saturday the 1st of May at 15:35 (GMT), while Saturday’s classic goes at 15:40 (GMT).
The 2,000 Guineas is the oldest of the two races having first been run in 1809 some five years before its younger sister race which was introduced as and remains a fillies only contest.
Big winners of the 2,000 Guineas, whose name denotes the original purse on offer, include some of the greatest flat racing horses of all time such as Frankel, Dancing Brave, Brigadier Gerard and Nijinsky.
Notable winners of the 1000 Guineas include Love, who took the crown last year, as well as Special Duty, Ghanaati, Oh So Sharp and Miesque.
But which pair will make history this weekend?
2000 Guineas Betting Tips
Oddly, early season form isn’t usually much of a pointer for this race as evidenced by the fact that eight of the previous ten winners of the 2,000 Guineas did so in their first run out of the year.
Which brings us to the newly installed favourite, the appropriately named for cup final season Wembley, last seen at Newmarket back in October.
One of five entries from this race’s most successful ever trainer Aidan O’Brien, Wembley has been the big market shifter in this last week before the big day. The colt has been backed in just ahead of the Joseph O’Brien-trained Thunder Moon who pipped his rival in the National Stakes.
Aidan O’Brien has won four of the last six renewals of this Group One classic and the race ten times in total. The Guineas genius has also had a horse finish in the first three places in of seven of the last 10 renewals.
The previous favourite had been One Ruler but, likely in light of would be rider Will Buick now saddling up on Master Of The Seas instead, his price has now drifted wider with his Charlie Appleby’s stablemate odds moving in the opposite direction.
Wembley ran six times last year as a juvenile, winning at Roscommon and ending the season with a runners up outing behind St Marks Basilica who should also line up on Saturday. That was here on the on the Rowley Mile in the Dewhurst Stakes and he also came in second behind Thunder Moon one month previously at the Curragh.
Dewhurst winner St Mark’s Basilica, another from the Aidan O’Brien yard, also scored big wins at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood last summer and definitely catches the eye. O’Brien is looking for an incredible 11th victory in the one mile Group One and with a line up like that, he looks incredibly likely to achieve exactly that.
One O’Brien hoping that Aidan doesn’t pull off the feat is son Joseph who enters Thunder Moon, another horse yet to run this year. O’Brien Jr looks to win this classic for the first time as a trainer, having won it in the saddle back in 2009.
The previous two winners of this race – Magna Grecia and Kameko – did so after achieving victory in the Vertem Futurity Stakes at Doncaster. For those that remember, last October Mac Swiney did exactly that making him an attractive option with a mid-sized price.
Trained by Charlie Hills, Mutasaabeq is another tempting runner and is the only entrée from the Shadwell yard in either of the weekend’s classics. Jim Crowley will be back in the saddle having ridden him to the second of his two Newmarket wins in two starts.
Van Gogh is another to look out for after finishing second to One Ruler in the Autumn Stakes. That run preceded a win in the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud, but overall, we like the look of St Marks Basilica who is a half-brother to 2019 winner Magna Grecia.
Whoever comes out on top, it’s sure to be a fascinating contest.
1000 Guineas Betting Tips
The first fillies’ classic of the year, and first leg of the fillies’ triple crown, the 1,000 Guineas is Saturday’s feature race.
Unlike the 2,000, 1,000 Guineas winners traditionally tend to have at least four runs in the bank prior to lining up on the Rowley Mile for this run out.
Once again, we take our tee from Aiden O’Brien, who is responsible for four out of the previous winners in this race. He leads the betting with the short-priced Santa Barbara.
Once again he faces his son Joseph who enters Pretty Gorgeous who won the Fillies’ Mile here last October proving both the course and the distance are nothing to trouble her.
The Fillies’ Mile, along with Curragh’s Moyglare Stud Stakes, have both proven themselves to be extremely good trials for the 1,000 Guineas over the years and Pretty Gorgeous almost won both of them last season losing to Shale who won’t, unlike Love previously, follow up her win with successful Guineas run on the Rowley Mile as she hasn’t been entered which is why we’re leaning towards Pretty Gorgeous.
Can Joseph O’Brien win both classics this weekend? Well, not if his dad has anything to say about it.
In her one solitary runout, Aidan O’Brien’s Santa Barbara took down a mile long maiden in admittedly lesser company at the Curragh back in September.
And, while she looked very good in the process, for race where previous runouts often yield the best rewards, her short price is enough to frighten us off. A little bit anyway.
Another option is Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free who won the Cheveley Park Stakes, another good pointer race.
Since making her debut in mid-August last year, she has raced four times and posted three wins and a second which explains why her price, as high as 14s not so very long ago, has shortened significantly.
Sandown’s Listed Star Stakes champion, Fev Rover would be the other pick, albeit one worth 20/1, while Frankel’s daughter no less, Snowfall whose mother Sky Lantern won this race in 2013 could be one for the romantics.