With less than two weeks until the 1000 Guineas, thoughts have rightly turned to finding some decent value within the race. But, you have to say that the division is really open this season, especially with the untimely death of Chriselliam, who had the potential to be a true great, having won here and in America last season. She’d have been towards the top of the market in this race had all being well and it’s left a rather big vacuum in the Classic’ generation. What will fill this void? I’m mainly going to focus on 1000 Guineas entrants for now, but there’s some in here that will be really exciting at middle-distances.
The 1000 Guineas Favourite
Rizeena, the 1000 Guineas favourite (Pic: Mirror)
The obvious starting destination is that of the Clive Brittain trained Rizeena, who currently heads the market for the 1000 Guineas. Her record of 4/8 and never being out of the frame in her juvenile season shows exactly what she is, remarkably consistent and almost a sure thing to be “there or thereabouts” on the Rowley mile. Some of her defeats have come to the aforementioned Chriselliam, the remarkably precocious No Nay Never, Vorba and Lucky Kristale. As you’ll be aware, some of these names she’ll be reappearing against at Newmarket and it just shows how open this division is, with rivals beating each other throughout the season. Though Rizeena is awfully consistent and a multiple Group 1 winner, you’ll have to be against her at odds around 4/1. Yes, she’s consistent and will run her race, but she doesn’t strike me as having real star quality. Personally, I’d want to be looking for a filly a bit more flashy and although she’ll most certainly pay her way this season, I just feel something will beat her.
Bracelet (L) and Balansiya (R)
For opposition, a fair starting point could be to look to Ireland. The John Oxx My Titania and the Aidan O’Brien trained Tapestry are towards the top of the market and the former, I believe deservedly so. Sired and running in the same colours as Sea The Stars, she’s 3/3 and although it was only a Group 3 over 7f that she won last September, she and the runner-up pulled well away from the rest and she shapes as she’ll continue to improve for the further that she goes. The vibes from her stable are good and you would definitely expect progeny from Sea The Stars to improve this season out of all recognition and she could well her sire’ first chance of a Classic winner. Odds of 8/1 aren’t necessarily prohibitive, even though you have to taken plenty on trust. Tapestry seems to be the main hope of Ballydoyle and was behind Rizeena last time at Newmarket, being promoted from 3rd after interference. She looks classy but will almost certainly be more of a threat around Epsom later in the season, she looked a fair bit one-paced over the mile last season and I’d hazard a guess that if she had a different trainer, she would be double the price.
Other contenders from Ireland include one of my main horses to follow this season in Balansiya, who was beaten in her trial at Leopardstown in March behind well-touted Oaks prospect Bracelet. It was slightly disappointing that Balansiya was beaten but the ground was likely all wrong for her (connections always said she’d be better on better ground) and she was very impressive on the eye when winning her maiden, settling the race in a matter of strides. Market vibes for Newmarket aren’t particularly great at the moment, but if she’s declared closer to the time, then she’ll be definitely worthy of interest on the basis that she’ll appreciate the conditions and has always shaped to me that she’ll be a top-class filly. If she doesn’t go to Newmarket, I still feel she could be a top-class filly this season and will be a force to be reckoned with wherever she shows up next. Bracelet is also a possible for the Guineas and is well-worth following this season too. She’s slightly under the radar at the moment and could be well worth following closely too, especially when upped in trip.
Of the home-grown, UK contingent, Lucky Kristale would be a popular winner coming from the relatively small-stable of George Margarson. She’s belied quite handsome odds on occasions as a juvenile as she’s frequently been underestimated, very possibly due to her connections. She looks a fine filly and has a real burst of speed. She should stay a mile but does genuinely shape as if she’ll be better over shorter distances. Connections have always said they’d be no problems with the trip and their opinion is obviously respected but a mile is a big step up, and I do really think that it will be a step too far at a Group 1 level. 3yo sprinters obviously have a hard time of things, but her future may lie at those trips. There’s also Ihtimal, who picked up the UAE Oaks at the Dubai Carnival. Quite possibly, the regular “concern” about Godolphin horses starting the season slowly may be negated by the fact she’s already being on the track this year. She also won by 10 lengths and was mightily impressive, even though she probably did not beat very much. She’s entitled to take her chance, but faces much tougher opposition here, on a completely different surface and meets rivals who haven’t had the stress of having to have done plenty of travelling through the early part of the year.
Sandiva, the winner of the Nell Glyn at Newmarket got things done in workmanlike fashion that day and after an expensive purchase by current connections, is another who may well be underestimated. She was very well thought of last season and although she disappointed in France on her last start, it’s possibly a fair assumption that she didn’t handle the ground that day. With a much sounder surface likely, and her attitude not a question, she has every right to take her chance and although hardly shaping like a horse we will be talking about in ten years, she could be one to go very well in a race such as the Guineas at quite handsome odds. J Wonder also won her “trial” and is very well-thought of by Brian Meehan. She started life in nurseries off a mark of 79 and won hilariously easily. She didn’t immediately step up when tried in Group company as a juvenile but has evidently improved from two to three. She’s still in the betting for the 1000 Guineas but have to improve once again and although possible, you’d have to be sceptical of her picking up a top-level Group 1 and will find her level in less well contested group races. The horse she beat at Newbury, Al Thakhira has a slightly similar profile, having being well-beaten when runner in the Breeders Cup last season. She looks to be pretty decent too but just under the level you’d think to be a winner of a top Group 1 in the UK, especially as she’s shown previously that softer conditions may suit. She may be one to keep an eye on in the French Guineas, alongside any further races with cut/or in France. Amazing Maria is an unexposed one for Ed Dunlop, who belied her average looking pedigree when hacking up at Goodwood last year, after being given a good ride. She’s reported to enjoy faster conditions but good ground at the slower side of good didn’t harm her chances last year. I’m not sure why she didn’t show up in the Nell Gywn and as an immediate betting proposal, I’d have to air on the side of caution, but she looks a terrific physical specimen and will be a really exciting horse for this season when next seen.
Miss France (pic: Sky Sports)
With the UK and Irish horses not springing out, it’s not unlikely that the best of the fillies will come from France. We saw this last season with Treve and French horses are lingering towards the head of the market for the early season Classics. Miss France looked the part last season, winning with plenty up her sleeve than the winning margin suggests at Newmarket in the Oh So Sharp stakes. She found herself at a single figure price in the betting for the Guineas at Newmarket, especially as that win came on faster ground. However, she was disappointing in her seasonal reappearance back in France, on ground that should have suited that day. In her defence though, the race didn’t really pan out as she’d have liked and was not given a particular tough time of things anyway. She’ll likely be cherry ripe for Newmarket and seen as though her price has doubled since she got turned over in France, perhaps unnecessarily so, she looks overpriced. Other French candidates include Vorda, who was a winner of the Cheveley Park last season and was narrowly beaten in the race Miss France took part in earlier this year. I’d compare Vorda to Lucky Kristale in terms of shaping though the mile will be a tough ask. She was narrowly worn down late on over 7f and doesn’t really spring out as a strong stayer at that trip, not least she’ll be taking on a mile. She’s high-class but isn’t really looking like a big player in terms of Classic success (either here or in France) this season.
Non 1000 Guineas – UK and Irish exciting fillies
Cambridge (R) winning on debut
Some of the principles in the betting for the 1000 Guineas are also in the betting for the Oaks and a couple have been mentioned above, such as Bracelet. She looks capable of holding her own at a mile and and at further, so is potentially one of the more versatile horses in the list and one you can quite imagine lining up at Epsom at a very short price. As we’ve already mentioned her, I’ll look to some other fillies who will come into their own over much further than a mile. Taghrooda is prominent enough in the betting considering she’s only ran once but her maiden success indicated that she’ll really come into her own over middle-distances and from a strong staying dam, she’ll likely have no concerns stamina wise going forward. One I’m more excited about at the prices is the Charles Hill trained Cambridge, who was green enough on debut and looked for a long while that she wouldn’t be troubling the principles before absolutely flying home late on to get up. That was over a mile and that trip then looked awfully sharp for her. She’s out of a Cheshire Oaks winner and from her physical appearance, she’ll be a much better three year old. At current odds of around 25/1, there are much worse ante-post bets available.
Non 1000 Guineas – French and German exciting fillies
Diamond Dove (Pic: Baden Racing)
Other horses that look extremely exciting but will swerve Newmarket who are based in Europe include Lesstalk In Paris. She won her trial last time out in a race that was pretty farcical in terms of pace, but did it well enough. She’ll be relatively short for the French Guineas you’d ought to think and shapes as if she’ll be much better if getting a fair race pace, but knowing French racing, this isn’t guaranteed. I wouldn’t be surprised if she came over to the UK considering ground ought not to be a problem later in the season and I’d suspect she’ll have a fairly big reputation by then, so looks one to follow closely. Indonesienne was behind Lesstalk In Paris on her last two starts and although she’s one to also prosper over better run races, I think it’s unlikely she’ll improve past her previously mentioned rival. Royalmania finished behind Indonesienne last October and has dodged that rival since then, picking up a Listed event a couple of weeks ago. She seems to go especially well on better ground and I wouldn’t be horribly surprised if connections supplemented her for the Newmarket contest. If so, she’ll be a fair player and odds of just 16/1 at the moment, even without an entry, show that bookmakers are airing on the side of caution with her at the moment. Looking outside of France, Diamond Dove was one of the top juveniles in Germany and won the traditionally strong Preis der Winterkoenigin with plenty in hand at the end of 2013. On pedigree, she’ll find a mile at three sharp enough and will find her place at further, but for the German breed which is really prospering as of late, she looks an exciting new star over middle-distances this season. She should also be capable away from the heavy ground, so that ought to open up new avenues should connections seek them.
As you’ll have seen by the above post, finding the 1000 Guineas winner is a real struggle. I’ve seen professionals within racing call the result “rather random” on occasions and I’d go along with that view for now. No doubt I’ve missed the winner, but I do feel that the likes of Sandiva, a horse who knows how to get the job done by getting her head down and trying, won’t be far away from winning such a race and at quite big odds. Miss France too, has been underestimated for a run that she’ll surely be better for and is worthy of support at a double figure price. I think others are far more exciting for the future though. Balansiya has a big year ahead and should be supported wherever she goes to, especially if getting the better conditions that she ought to really enjoy. Longer term, Epsom Oaks principle Bracelet, that got the better of Balansiya at Leopardstown and Diamond Dove, a “dark-horse” entrant to this list from Germany, as well as the exciting looking Cambridge of Charles Hills all ought to improve significantly this season and leave a real mark, the latter being a sensible betting proposition at 25/1 for the Epsom Oaks. She could turn out to be a real star this year. Amazing Maria has an exciting physical appearance and should be making a name for herself in the top races whilst Lesstalk In Paris should improve for a properly run race and even so, has shown herself perfectly capable of winning a falsely run race. She can really make her mark in France and in the UK too if an opportunity arose.