What are the best bets at Newmarket and Goodwood on Saturday?
The Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes is one of six races being shown live on Channel 4 this afternoon – four from Newmarket, two from Goodwood – and I’ve run the rule over them all here in the hope of highlighting a winner or two.
Newmarket 2.00: championsofracing.co.uk Suffolk Stakes (Handicap), 1m1f
A tricky start for punters and Sir Michael Stoute complicates matters further by running a couple of potential improvers in Mutamakkin, the current favourite, a negative perhaps as none have obliged in the last 10 years, and Intimation. The former has had a run – a solid third in a handicap at the Craven meeting – but his stablemate has the fancy entries and is no doubt better than his current mark of of 90. He’s just preferred of the pair but given the competitive nature of the race, I’d rather back one each-way at bigger odds.
The horse I’ve landed on is Hugo Palmer’s STRONG STEPS. Gelded since we last saw him, he has been acting as a lead horse at home for stablemate Galileo Gold, who is not without a chance in the 2000 Guineas run later on the card. According to Palmer (recent Stable Tour), working with a horse of that quality has brought about improvement from the selection – a case of “a rising tide lifts all ships” – and it’s therefore not unreasonable to expect him to better his current handicap mark of 88, which is 2lb below last season’s peak rating of 90 – he finished fourth of 16 in a valuable handicap at Kempton off that perch. At 16/1 with Hills, I’m happy to pay to find out and especially with the stable going so well – five winners in the last fortnight and seven others in the first three.
Goodwood 2.15: Betfred TV EBF Stallions Daisy Warwick Stakes (Fillies’ Listed), 1m4f
Last year’s winner Miss Marjurie is nicely clear on the ratings and has no doubt been trained with a repeat in mind. She must go well but I’m loathe to take the early 9/4 – she won at 10/1 12 months ago – as luck in running always plays a big part in races at the track and, besides, she’s up against 12 rivals many of whom look progressive. Indeed, David Simcock’s Bateel was unbeaten in three starts last season, including a fillies’ handicap over track and trip, and connections are clearly expecting more this term as they have made some Group entries.
But she too is no great price at around 3/1 and I’d rather trust in Hugo Palmer – a trainer on an upward trajectory – coaxing further improvement out of TWITCH. He did just that (and some!) with another daughter of Azamour, Covert Love, whom he placed brilliantly to win two Group 1s last season, and her half-sister, while not in the same league, ought to be up to winning at this level this season. Last season’s form, which included a fine third in a French Listed contest, entitles her to plenty of respect but, having done “very well over the winter” according to her trainer, there may well be better to come this term. She’s got to be worth a small each-way interest at Betfair’s 25/1.
Newmarket 2.30: Pearl Bloodstock Palace House Stakes (Group 3), 5f
The sprint division looks wide open following the retirement of Muhaarar and that perhaps explains the huge field of 22 for this Group 3 contest, which is a traditional stepping stone to the Group 1 King’s Stand. Goldream beat nine rivals in this 12 months ago before going on to land the double and before him Equiano 2010) and Sole Power (twice, in 2014 and 2013) achieved the same feat. If anything that tells us that we are looking for a talented sprinter with the potential to go on to Group 1 glory later in the season – as have the last six winners – and a couple of runners fit that bill.
The Charlie Hills-trained Cotai Glory finished last season on a high with a commanding 5f Listed win at Doncaster and, having reportedly done well over the winter, he could well turn make up into a Group 1 performer this term. However, according to Hills (writing in his Weekender column) today’s race “will do him good”, suggesting he may need the run, and the forecast ‘good to soft’ ground is a a further worry as he’s definitely better on a fast surface.
For those reasons, he’s swerved on this occasion – though do keep him on your side for the remainder of the season – in favour of another four-year-old with the potential to take high rank in this division, particularly over the minimum trip. That horse being the John Gosden-trained WAADY who has a perfect five wins from five runs over 5f, including a Group 3 at Sandown in July when he overcame a slipping saddle and trouble in running to deny Wind Fire by half a length with a gap back to the third. It didn’t work out for him on his final start in Haydock’s Sprint Cup (6f) as he took too keen a hold, but a winter gelding operation should help in that respect and he is now back over his favoured trip.
He has been handed stall 22 – the highest of all – but I’m not going to let that put me off. The draw bias here is hard to predict as they are always moving rails to try and avoid split fields for one, but I can remember a high berth being an advantage in plenty of sprint races here in recent seasons and it’s worth noting that Goldream overcame the highest draw (stall 10) in last year’s renewal. Any remaining doubts are compensated by the fact we can back him at 8/1 with bet365, who are alone in offering one quarter the odds to each-way backers.
Goodwood 2.50: Betfred ‘Treble Odds On Lucky 15’s’ Handicap, 7f
A wide open handicap and it’s hard to be too confident of the result, especially when you consider that luck in running plays a huge part at this idiosyncratic track. Bookmakers have landed on Mick Channon’s Lincoln as favourite despite the fact he has a string of duck eggs to his name. Given he’s got himself well handicapped again – on a 2lb higher mark than his last winning one – he’s going to bounce back to form sooner rather than later, but I’m still inclined to look elsewhere for the winner.
I’ve stopped at the David Menuisier-trained bottom weight SINFONIETTA. He does have some recent form to recommend him and, indeed, it was a striking six-length success on his reappearance at Nottingham, where he looked miles clear of his mark. The handicapper must have thought so too as he has hit him with a 13lb rise and he’s also up in class today, but that might not be enough to stop this progressive sort from going in again and the booking of Kieren Fallon to ride very much takes the eye. With the stable going well, the partnership look value at bet365’s 9/1.
Newmarket 3.05: Dunaden At Overbury Jockey Club Stakes (Group 2), 1m4f
Simple Verse just kept on getting better last season and ended it with a couple of Group 1 victories in the St Leger – albeit on appeal after being wrongly demoted on raceday – and on Champions Day at Ascot against her own sex. Connections are eyeing up an ambitious campaign for 2016 that could culminate in the Arc – and why not – but she might prove vulnerable here on her first run back and carrying a Group 1 penalty, meaning she is giving weight to last year’s Irish Derby winner JACK HOBBS, who is rated 7lb her superior.
John Gosden’s colt is also making his reappearance but if he returns at anywhere near the form he showed as a three-year-old he’s going to be tough to beat. His victory at the Curragh and his second to Golden Horn in the Derby make him the clear form choice and he looked the type to improve further with another year on his back. It’s just a shame we’re not going to get rich backing him today at a best-priced 8/15 (Betway).
Newmarket 3.45: Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes (British Champions Series) (Group 1), 1m
A field of 13 will go to post for the first Classic of the season, headed by Aidan O’Brien’s Air Force Blue, who is Betfred’s 4/5 favourite, and you can read my thoughts on whether he can be beaten here.
Fancy some free bets? Back a winner at 4/1 or bigger in any of the above six races with bet365 and they will give you a free bet to the same stake (up to £50 per customer per race) on the next race shown live on Channel 4.