Newmarket Guineas weekend is that part of the horse racing calendar when the flat season begins in earnest as the national hunt equivalent draws to a close in the UK.
Both the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas usually define the best of the three year old milers for the remainder of the season whereas some of those horses finishing well to occupy the minor places are often mentioned as potential middle distance contenders.
Ante-post favourite in the colt’s classic is KINGMAN who is already being described as possibly the new ‘Frankel’ after two impressive two year old victories and then a convincing winner of the seven furlong Greenham Stakes. (see video below)
Owned by Khalid Abdullah, who also owned the mighty Frankel, he appears likely to be a formidable challenger for the main mile races and current odds of 6/4 on Betfair may shorten even further for Saturday.
His main opponent in the market is the Aidan O’Brien trained Australia who disposed of the much vaunted Free Eagle by six lengths at Leopardstown in September. He has not raced this season, but there is just the suspicion that this Galileo colt will appreciate a longer distance. Odds of 7/2 with Paddy Power are offered for his chances on Saturday.
Stable mate War Command won the Coventry Stakes by six lengths and suffered only one subsequent defeat before claiming the Dewhurst Stakes in October. With breeding suggesting that a mile distances will be ideal, he may represent better value in this race than Australia and is quoted at 10/1 with William Hill.
Unbeaten Toormore won the Craven Stakes and will have no problem with the Guineas distance but he may just lack that extra touch of class displayed by Kingman and Ladbrokes price him at 7/1.
At the same Newmarket meeting, Shifting Power created a good impression when winning the European Free Handicap. That race was staged over seven furlongs and the manner in which the unbeaten Richard Hannon horse finished the contest suggests the extra furlong of the 2,000 will play to his strengths. The 40/1 offered by Skybet appears decent each way value, although he is the stable second string behind Toormore.
For the fillies in the 1,000 Guineas, Rizeena leads the market at 4/1 with Paddy Power. Trained by Clive Brittain, she experienced a fairly busy two year old campaign and was beaten by Chriselliam in her final race over a mile at Newmarket, but that followed a cosy victory in the Moyglare Stakes at the Curragh.
Rizeena is by no means certain to be effective over this distance, and having been well beaten in her debut race last season, odds of 4/1 with Paddy Power do not seem very appealing.
Perhaps worth more consideration is the John Oxx trained My Titania who is a daughter of Sea The Stars. After a promising second on her debut at Leopardstown, she won her two subsequent races in a manner indicating that a mile and possibly further would suit. Odds of 10/1 are offered by SkyBet seem acceptable.
Nell Gwyn Stakes winner Sandiva may also be an interesting contender especially at odds 20/1 with Boylesports. Assuming that the going does not become too soft, she has decent each way claims although a mile may be the limit of her stamina.