The flat season goes into full swing, as it is Guineas weekend on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket.
Today we sees the 2000 Gunieas, as the headline act, prior to the fillies who are in action in tomorrows 1000 Guineas.
Ballydoyle have favourites for both races, so will Air Force Blue and Minding justify their positions at the head of the ante-post markets?
Here is a flavour of Saturday’s racing:
The card starts with the Suffolk Stakes handicap run over the Cambridgeshire distance of 1m1f.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Mutamakkin comes into this race with fitness on his side after running here 16-days ago. In that race he caught the eye when staying on to take third over the 7f trip suggesting today’s extra distance is one he should relish. He has only had four runs and may not be badly treated. He has already been backed and looks short enough in a race of this nature.
With four places to play with then the 2014 winner Niceofyoutotellme could be overpriced. His record fresh is quite impressive and he was when he won this race two years ago albeit off a lower mark. He has plenty of experience over this course and distance, including a dead heat for second in last season’s Cambridgeshire. His form of late does look scratchy but that has come in better company than this and on the all-weather, so back on the turf is a positive. Ralph Beckett has had a good start to the season and for me looks a good each-way bet.
Richard Fahey has had a good start to the season in the north and his Spring Offensive could be well treated. He was a recent winner at Pontefract winning over a mile and despite hanging in the closing stages looked better than how the handicapper has assessed him. This is a step up in class, so will need more but could have more to offer for the Yorkshire handler.
Arthenus and Intimation are two other potential improvers. The former completed the hat-trick at York last season when staying on to beat Librisa Breeze close home. The handicapper hasn’t missed him but on his return could be worth watching. The filly Intimation is another for Sir Michael Stoute who caused an upset when winning her maiden in taking fashion at 20/1. She following that up with a success at Leicester and has been put up 10lb but with her being lightly raced could have more to offer. She has some nice entries in the future, so I wouldn’t be entirely sure if she would be 100 per cent for this after he 301-day winter break.
Advice: Niceofyoutotellme (14/1 Each-Way)
Aidan O’Brien has dominated this race and goes in search of his eighth success with Air Force Blue. The three year old is already at an odds-on price and being a son of War Front leaves questions whether he’ll train on for this season. He kept improving last season winning three Group 1 races where he beat Massaat, Herald The Dawn and reversed form with Buratino. He wears a tongue-tie for the first time suggesting he may have or still have a slight problem. For me he is worth taking on.
I’m a fan of Stormy Antarctic, who caught my eye on his second start in an Ascot maiden. He finished third that day but got off the mark at Sandown on his third start. On official ratings he is 10lb worse off than Air Force Blue but Ed Walker’s charge was mightily impressive on his return to action over this course and distance 16-days ago. He sat at the rear of the pack in the Craven Stakes and made significant progress before showing a super turn of foot putting Foundation to the sword – that day he was the only runner to win from off the pace on the card and he looks to have more to offer. The ground has a bit of cut in it, so should suit him and looks likely to make his presence felt.
At a bigger price is Galileo Gold for Hugo Palmer who kept improving during his campaign last year and ended it with a close third in a Group 1 at Longchamp. He had previously won the Group 2 Vintage Stakes in a messy race at Goodwood but he handled the cut in the ground and if fit after his break could be one to hit the frame. Massaat needs to find improvement after being well beaten by Air Force Blue here last year and for me may need a bit of time before being fully ready. Marcel caused one of the upsets of the season winning the Racing Post Trophy when upped in trip for the first time. He is another that cannot be discounted if you want to take the favourite on.
Advice: Stormy Antarctic (8/1 Each-Way)
Jennie Candlish is a trainer that has her horses in fine form on the flat and over obstacles. At her local track she saddles Wintered Well who has done well of late and looks worthy of an each-way play in this contest. When winning at Catterick and Doncaster he looked like this extra trip would be ideal and the cut in the ground is another positive. Battle Of Shiloh is an unexposed type but has to step up on his maiden hurdle form. (11/1 Each-Way)
Normal Equilibrium came from off the pace to score at Epsom ten-days ago and despite a rise in the weights he can win once more. Robert Cowell is a master trainer of sprinters and he has booked Jamie Spencer to guide home this six year old. A slight worry would be how he’s run at this course before but off this mark he can serve it up to the current favourite Stake Acclaim. (4/1)