What are the best bets at Newmarket?
After the drama of Aintree the Flat starts in earnest with the three-day Craven meeting at Newmarket featuring Guineas trials, with the fillies the first to lay down their claims in this afternoon’s Nell Gwyn Stakes (due off 3.55pm).
A total of 14 will go to post and they are headed by John Gosden’s NATHRA, who quickly made up into a smart filly last autumn, beating a subsequent Listed winner on her Salisbury debut before trotting up in a small field at Newbury. On her final start she was readily brushed aside by Minding in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile here, but that horse is 5/2 favourite for the 1000 Guineas and she drops a furlong for today’s test to a trip she won her first two races over.
There is also a very good chance she has improved for her winter break and her trainer, who reports her well forward at this stage, has never wavered in thinking she is a genuine Guineas filly. He likes to get a run into his Classic aspirants before the big day and the betting suggests she is ready to rock and roll this afternoon. The forecast ‘good to soft’ ground should be no hindrance either as both her wins came on ‘soft’ and, given her pedigree, she might be even better on this slightly quicker surface.
It also helps her cause that her main market rival Lumiere has to carry a 3lb penalty for her Group 2 success at the July meeting here, and she also has to prove conclusively her stamina for this trip. The Godolphin runner First Victory on the other hand is likely to find further ideal this year, while there seems little market confidence in either of the Aidan O’Brien runners, Ballydoyle and Coolmore.
In anticipation of a victory this afternoon, it also seems prudent to have a little on at the 16/1 on offer for the fillies’ Classic, especially as Minding (along with several others) are not expected to run until Guineas day and given that the selection may well have improved past them all.