The first two Classics of the season take place at Newmarket this weekend, starting today with the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes at 3.35.
What usually happens with this race is that the pundits do hours and hours of research, check with all their contacts, come up with a great selection – and Aiden O’Brien wins it.
Well, the Master of Ballydoyle saddles the first and second favourites with Saxon Warrior and Gustav Klimt locked together at 7-2, and the unbeaten SW is the stronger in the betting. At our peril, we are going to oppose them both by suggesting an each way bet on Expert Eye at 12-1. This Sir Michael trained colt was made favourite for this race after a stunning performance in the Qatar Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, which he won by an easy 4+ lengths, only to blow it big time in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes, for which he went off the 4-7 favourite.
Badly in need of his comeback run at Newbury last month, we hope to see the Goodwood version today, with Andrea Atzeni back on board.
We also recommend a win bet on Charlie Appleby’s Masar, who destroyed the field over CD in the bet365 Craven Stakes last month, winning by a startling 9 lengths. Almost certainly not a fluke, Masar can be backed at 7-2.
Proceedings commence with the Spring Lodge Stakes Handicap over nine furlongs, and here we have the proverbial ‘Group horse running in a handicap’ syndrome, with Sharja Bridge installed as the 3-1 jolly. To achieve a mark of 99 after just four runs, this 4-y-o could well be the real deal and, with the trainer exuding optimism, this should be backed to win and go on to better things.
In case it’s all hype, we also suggest a sporting each way punt on Breden at 18-1.
Trained by Linda Jewell, better known for preparing 12 year olds to win selling chases at Plumpton, this ex-John Gosden inmate has already won a competitive handicap at Newbury for the yard and made a highly promising seasonal reappearance at Leafy last month. This sprightly 8-y-o could surprise under our Hayley.
The Longholes Palace House Stakes at 2.20, a Group 3 over the flying five, sees the return to action of Karl Burke’s admirable Havana Grey, which has been installed as the 9-4 favourite. Not many 3-y-os have won this race, but not many have run in it either and with upwards of 8lbs in hand on official ratings, plus a hefty wfa allowance, we have to put her up as a win bet.
The Havana Gold Newmarket Stakes at 4.45, a Listed contest over ten furlongs will be won by a Charlie Appleby-trained runner – the only question being ‘which one?’
He saddles the first two in the market, both of which have the form to take this, so the sensible course of action is to trust Will Buick and go with his choice of mount, Key Victory. Available at 7-4, this rates a confident choice.
Sundays are days of rest and recuperation, so we do not publish tomorrow, content to leave you, dear reader, with the winner of the Qipco 1000 Guineas well in advance.
Anna Nerium at 14-1 (each way) is the young lady of choice.
Expert Eye 3.35 Newmarket e/w @ 12-1 (4 places)
Masar 3.35 Newmarket win @ 7-2
Sharja Bridge 1.50 Newmarket win @ 3-1
Breden 1.50 Newmarket e/w @ 18-1
Havana Grey 2.20 Newmarket win @ 9-4
Key Victory 4.45 Newmarket win @ 7-4
Anna Nerium 3.35 Newmarket Sunday e/w @ 14-1 (4 places)