The tweed jackets are back in the wardrobe and the chequered three-piece suits are beginning to get excited. That can only mean one this; the Flat is back.
Just looking at the pedigrees of unraced maidens has been filling my levels of enthusiasm for the summer and without even thinking about it, the first Classics are upon us.
Newmarket hosts some brilliant Group races alongside the two feature events as well and the three-day event is already shaping up to be a good betting prospect, so let’s dive into my two ante-post plays of the opening weekend in May.
Cox looking to Get Ahead
The first Group race of 2000 Guineas Day is a spicy contest with 17 entered at the time of writing and the betting market is at 4/1 the field.
Plenty in here made the shortlist – Equality stepping out of handicap company and Arecibo in a lower-grade Group race were the main ones – but it’s Clive Cox’s GET AHEAD at 16/1 with William Hill that I am most interested in.
Looking back on her last run, a race she was backed in for having opened up at 15/2 before going off 11/2, she broke out the stalls and instantly met trouble in behind some runners causing her to lose some lengths.
Sails home! Happy Romance stays on powerfully to win the Listed Whitsbury Manor Stud/British EBF Lansdown Stakes for @LeveySean and @rhannonracing at @BathRacecourse… pic.twitter.com/uaV6k7cq1Z
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) April 21, 2023
However, she miraculously made up ground around the outside of the pack at Bath with its long, sweeping bend to finish a good third behind Happy Romance who finished sixth in a Group 1 over in Meydan the race before Bath.
In her two-year racing career, she beat Eve Lodge, a subsequent Group 3 winner, and Wild Beauty, a subsequent Canadian Grade 1 winner, on debut over five furlongs at Ascot before her sixth in the Queen Mary the following month.
Speedy! Showcasing filly Get Ahead cost 200,000 guineas as a yearling, is a sister to the Mill Reef winner Alkumait, and impresses on debut for Clive Cox and Adam Kirby at @Ascot… pic.twitter.com/TDcSV7YTHV
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) May 7, 2021
Two good races behind White Lavender, now rated 108, and Mitbaahy, now rated 109, in her three-year-old career read well, but it is her last victory in a handicap at Goodwood that was the most impressive as she gave seven pounds away to Silky Wilkie, who reappears on Saturday, to win by two lengths – the runner-up would go on to win a handicap off a 15lb higher mark running to an RPR of 114.
Now in receipt of three pounds from the Karl Burke four-year-old and with Rossa Ryan booked to do the steering, I think the four-year-old son of Showcasing is worthy of this Group 3 challenge.
Beware of the Bear
Over the last few months, there has been one horse who gathered all of the pre-Guineas chat.
Quotes about the infamous triple-crown have been thrown about before he has even hit the track this year but it seems like Auguste Rodin is the Ballydoyle hopeful for this year.
His Vertem Futurity win was good, admittedly, but there is a case to be made that the horses in behind didn’t run their true race and the hustle and bustle of a Guineas could just find him out.
Of course, he is good, but at 7/4, I am inclined to look away.
And where I am looking is not too far away as I’m with his stablemate LITTLE BIG BEAR at 11/2 with William Hill.
His form is the best coming into this race and his win in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes last August was breathtaking to beat Persian Force, Shartash, and Bradsell.
"That was mightily impressive!"
An absolutely spectacular display from Little Big Bear ???? in the @keeneland Phoenix Stakes @curraghrace – with Bradsell only fourth@coolmorestud | @Ballydoyle pic.twitter.com/43xQdmXjqJ
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) August 6, 2022
Of course, the big question coming into Saturday is to whether this son of No Nay Never will get the Rowley Mile.
Taking a look through his pedigree, the speed comes from his sire’s side; he’s a No Nay Never who was a Group 1 winner over six furlongs, however, his dam, Adventure Seeker, has produced five other horses who have won races ranging from seven furlongs to two miles.
Even his damsire, Bering, was a high-class 12-furlong horse so you would hope that the influence of his dam’s side will allow him to stay the full eight furlongs.
The ‘will he stay’ argument can be applied to plenty more in here – Sakheer and Noble Style – but with the way he went about his races over six furlongs last year, I would be hopeful that he can apply his brilliant self to the Guineas better than a few others and he is my pick for the 2000 Guineas.