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NO RACING today, but Monday is the due start-date for the first meeting at Newcastle.
Of course with no form to go on this season, this is always the most difficult time to have a wager, but we do know the yards that are traditionally associated with getting off the mark quickly.
That trainers’ list though is likely to be bigger this time around with the Classics and Royal Ascot just around the corner, so I think that we can take it for granted that most trainers will have their string fairly forward at the time of writing.
My Newcastle tips follow, but having already advised my tips for the classics some weeks ago on an ante-post basis, it is time to revisit those big markets following some big moves in the betting this week.
The winter favourite for the 2,000 Guineas has been really strong over the past month and I know from a friend of mine who rides out at Newmarket that his recent work has pleased connections. Pinatubo has an outside chance of staying 10 furlongs, but I suspect he will be a miler pure and simply and that will be his domain this season.
So with the son of Shamardal having gone from a shade of odds-against to odds-on (10/11 is the best price in the market place at the time of writing) and the bookies offering 7/1 bar the one, an each-way play is the call.
The other best-backed horse for the colts’ classic has been Arizona. He has been the subject of really good support in the past 10 days and has been backed from a double-figure price into 7/1 second favourite on the back of some sizzling homework.
Having run seven times as a two-year-old and been beaten twice by Pinatubo you wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that he is readily held on the form book.
However, he reduced the gap from that first defeat to his second, in the Dewhurst Stakes, from 9.25 lengths to two lengths. The other factor in his favour is that he looked to have immense physical scope to strengthen up and improve through his second season.
Soft ground may not have played to his strengths in that Newmarket Group One, and on good or quicker ground he should see out the mile and possibly get closer to his old rival. Remember money from Ballydoyle is rarely wrong!
It is double-figure prices bar these two, with Kameko (11/1), Military March (16/1), looks more of a Derby type, and Aidan O’Brien’s outsider Royal Dornoch also interesting at a massive 40/1.
The last named edged out Kameko by a neck in the Royal Lodge Stakes and could be the forgotten entry by the Irish maestro in the race. Looking at his juvenile profile it could be that a sound surface suits him best.
As far as the 1,000 Guineas is concerned, favourite Quadrilateral is nowhere near as short as Pinatubo (10/3 available) and rather like Arizona looked to have the physique to strengthen up appreciably and make great strides. She showed she had the right attitude to go with her latent talent in the Fillies’ Mile and looks solid.
However, if you want to play at a bigger price then Millisle (12/1) and Boomer (25/1) may be worth revisiting.
The former will have the services of Oisin Murphy and made good progress in five outings last season, culminating in a strong staying success in the Cheveley Park Stakes. That run suggests she will get further, although her breeding may tell you otherwise.
In contrast, Boomer is a relatively stronger stayer and on her last three starts won the Group Three Prestige Stakes (7f), was second in the May Hill (1m) and finally put up a career-best run when fifth to Quadrilateral in the Fillies Mile.
That last run can probably be upgraded slightly as she was always doing enough through the race and I thought that Richard Kingscote could possibly have bided his time on her a bit more. Even then she was only beaten by a shade over three lengths.
And so onto Newcastle on Monday and a gigantic 10-race card on the Tapeta surface at Gosforth Park.
The opening class-six handicap over a mile (1.00) will hardly lift the excitement levels, but I will be keeping a close eye on GHADBBAAN trained by Brian Ellison.
The gelding had just the one run with Sir Michael Stoute and so far one with Brian, catching the eye in the latter stages of his run February over C&D.
On both occasions both of those races were slowly run and the son of Intello was outpaced before keeping on in the closing stages.
It’s hard to know how good an indicator that is of his talent but an opening mark of 65 could be interesting. The betting will tell us plenty and if he is a positive in the market he gets the vote over fellow unexposed four-year-olds Stone Mason and The Big House.
The feature race of the day is a class-three handicap over an extended mile-and-a-half at 5.05 and Stoute has an excellent chance of opening his account for the season with ALIGNAK.
He looked far from the finished article as a three-year-old but still managed to land a Kempton Park novice easily over 11 furlongs.
His trainer is always worth following with older horses kept in training and in time a mile-and-three quarters should be within his compass, and this looks a really good starting point.
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