We kick off today’s proceedings with a one and a half mile handicap where Godolphin’s four year old favourite Oceanographer looks the likeliest winner. The aforementioned favourite will be fit after two victories on the all-weather this winter. A horse that is a clear improver and with Godolphin having their horses in top form it has to be respected and although this looks a tougher contest than it’s previous runs I can’t see past the favourite.
Of the other runners the two I fear the most are Mark Johnston’s Watersmeet who has good form over course and distance the only downside is wether it’ll act on the softer going.
As well as Watersmeet another five year old Slunovrat looks to pose a serious threat after a decent win in its last race. I just hope the favourite has enough to keep its head in front.
We take a trip to Salisbury for a race from their card with this class three handicap.
A couple of runners had great records last season picking up a few victories and placed efforts of which both are prominent in the betting. Mark Hopkins and Magic Circle performed well as three year olds and if they can translate that form on to their four year old careers they should have enough for this level of opposition. However it’s a big ask, especially going up against older horses with more experience. There’s no doubt they’re going to have more room to grow and should have developed over the winter but with both of them less than an each way price I want to look for a horse that can go well at a price.
The one I’m plumping for is the bottom weight Rideonastar who has head gear applied for the first time today. A decent return when finishing a close second behind a horse that is fancied for the first at Newmarket today Slunovrat. That reads like pretty decent form and will surely have blown off any cobwebs for those exertions. It may not be the classiest runner in the field but with a low weight it has to have a great chance with experienced jockey Martin Dwyer booked to ride.
The first group race of the day sees some top class older horses tack on a nine furlong contest.
John Gosden’s Jazzi Top is the market principle and with good reason. A former course winner who is ultra consistent and came close to winning a group one last time out, it wont mind a bit of cut and has a great chance. That being said however I feel value is the way to go with a selection in this race and as such the favourite is sidestepped for an alternative runner.
The horse in question is trained by Martyn Meade who has a fantastic record with his horses here at Flat HQ. He sends Irish Rookie who has a very good set of results at this venue. Course form counts for a lot here at Newmarket and with a decent sixth placed finish in last years 1,000 Guineas a decent level of form at a current price of 9/1 it looks far too big a price to turn down.
Irish Rookie (E/W)
We take a trip up to Scotland for another race away from Newmarket.
The top weight and favourite is Mirsaale who is looking for a hat-trick of successes after winning its previous two contests. The horse has had a whopping twenty three pound rise in the weights since its earlier success this season and that seems an almighty task to overcome.
The same applies to Lycidas who sits ten pounds higher than its previous winning mark and despite finishing second on the all-weather last time out this looks a completely different task to deal with.
Of the remaining runners there’s only one course and distance winner and despite quite a few poor efforts last time out Aramist absolutely loves it here at Hamiltown with two wins from two runs here. The horse returns to the scene of its last victory from a one pound lower handicap mark and is taken to put up another great performance at a course it thrives.
We return to Newmarket where we see a big runner handicap and due to the large field I’m opting for two selections in this.
The first is Karl Burke’s Yeeow who has a great record here including a third placed finish here last time out. It’ll strip fitter for that effort and looks one to be onside at a good price.
The second is a horse who finished second in this race last year and I’m hoping Huntsmans Close can put in a repeat performance this time around.
Terentum Star is Kevin Ryan’s favourite and has a great chance but with such a large field I have to side with my other two who represent much better value.
Huntsmans Close (E/W)
The major, showpiece race of the day is this years 1,000 Guineas. One of the best “ladies days” on the flat racing calendar.
After yesterdays 2,000 Guineas where short priced Ballydoyle favourite Air Force Blue was a flop we are presented with another short priced favourite from the same yard. Minding is the lady that leads the market and although she was a top class two year old it’s very difficult not to be somewhat perturbed by yesterdays showing from her male stablemate.
I thoroughly expect a better showing from Ballydoyle’s runner today but with a race of this nature I’m looking to go for something with a bit more value.
Trainer Mark Johnston enters two into the race and I fell they both have great chances. Lumiere is the classier of the duo and looks to put in a showing if taking to the mile distance but his other runner, Fireglow, is already a course and distance winner and may do well at a bigger price.
Another runner that seems quite overpriced is Blue Bayou. It’s current 50/1 price tag seems a bit excessive, of course the horse needs to improve but it put in a few decent efforts last season and isn’t quite as out of the frame as the bookmakers may suggest.
The horse I’m opting for is John Gosden’s Nathra. A course winner who clearly acts at the venue. It was soundly beaten by Minding over course and distance last year but it goes well fresh and represents a powerhouse stable. Wether or not the horse can reverse that form I’m not too sure but at an 8/1 price it’s worth an each way punt.