Classic weekend at Newmarket, with today’s action highlighted by the Qipco 2000 Guineas at 3.35.
Just 10 colts go to post for this, with a hot favourite in the Aiden O’Brien trained Churchill, available at a best priced 11-8. This offspring of Galileo won his last five races as a 2-y-o, ending his season with a comfortable victory in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes over seven furlongs of this course. There were reports that William Hill were offering 2-1 against this potential superstar last night, but they have since been royally filled in for their impertinence and with the trainer describing Churchill as ‘the best he has trained’, come 3.38pm, 11-8 might look like a gift.
The only slight niggle is the ‘good to firm’ going description, as the only time the horse has encountered that phrase he struggled to get the better of a tree. However, assuming ‘management’ have slung enough water on the course, all should be well.
An insurance policy on your win bet could be an e/w ‘saver’ on the Andre Fabre trained Al Wukair at 11-2. Unbeaten after three runs and trained specifically with this race in mind, Gregory Benoist employed exaggerated waiting tactics in the Prix Djebel, four weeks ago, but the horse quickened up impressively to be well on top at the finish. Whether the same run style will be in evidence today remains to be seen, but whatever happens, Al Wukair should at least make the frame.
The Group 3 Palace House Stakes at 2.20 was won impressively last year by Profitable, but the ante-post favourite for a repeat performance is now a non-runner due to a bruised foot. This leaves the way open for another inmate of Aiden O’Brien’s yard Washington DC to show he is going to be better at 4 than he was at 3. Not that he wasn’t too dusty as a kid, competing well in all the top sprints, but his tune-up for this, a Listed affair at Navan, shouted ‘improver’ and with an each way 11-2 available, WDC can start a great day for the Irish.
Tomorrow’s Qipco 1000 Guineas, also at 3.35, also has an O’Brien inmate as favourite, this time at 15-8 and, however hard you look, it’s difficult to get away from the chance of Rhododendron.
Last seen sauntering away with the Group 1 Dubai Fillies Mile over course and distance and on good to firm ground, this filly has had an uninterrupted preparation and possesses the stand out form – what’s not to like?
Her stable mate Hydrangea, who she twice beat last season, re-opposes, so we could have a new meaning to the commentators phrase ‘as they run down into the bushes’.
As Delboy might have said: “Shrubbery, jubbery”.