The long awaited, first classic of the flat season is upon us, The QIPCO Guineas Festival, on the stunning grounds of Newmarket.
The momentous festival will go off on Saturday, with the dual between Dawn Approach and Toronado in the 2,000 Guineas set to be the major contest of the day.
Dawn Approach has looked incredibly impressive in his unbeaten six runs and goes in to the race as leading contender with a bit in hand over this field on the back of the Dewhurst victory. Richard Hannon’s Toronado is also unbeaten and with Richard Hughes booked, it looks to be one of the most exciting battles of the meeting. A P O’Brien has a healthy stand in the race with Cristoforo Colombo, the choice of his son, Joseph. Seamie Heffernan will ride Mars for O’brien who is extremely well regarded and Moohaajim is another in with a chance of an each way place behind the two hugely respected favourites.
The Qatar Bloodstock Jockey Club Stakes involves only four horses, all of whom can realistically win in what is sure to be an extremely tight contest. Dandino is the slight favoured of the four and he and Wigmore Hill are both coming here on the back of Group 1 entries latest. Universal edged out Noble Mission in a Group 3 at Newbury last month, but the latter will be hoping to pose a much larger threat here.
Noble Mission won the Qatar Racing Newmarket Stakes in 2012 and Joe Fanning and Windhoek will be hoping to follow in similar footsteps in Saturday’s penultimate race. High Octane is another sure to go well and 1m2f should suit him. Centurius won well last time out but will have to improve hugely here and if Unsinkable can run to his full potential he poses a serious threat on the stylish favourite, Windhoek.
Paul Hanagan rides Heeraat in the Group 3, Pearl Bloodstock Palace House Stakes and will be hoping for back-to-back wins in this race after last year’s victory aboard Mayson. He warrants respect as does Tangerine Trees who will need to improve on Musselburgh success. Pearl Secret should offer more here, excusing his latest win and should feature prominently if doing so.
The opening race of the meeting provides a competitive betting market with the prolific-performing Richard Hughes aboard the favoured Rye House for Sir Michael Stoute. He is sure to run well after finishing runner-up to Rule Book in June. Basseterre should also be there about from a decent stall two, following his consistent and improving season. Boonga Roogeta and Whispering Warrior are both unbeaten in two runs and symbolise good value for money.
The Two Year Old Handicap is likely to be a wide open contest of thirteen runners. Last year’s race saw a top three all of reasonably long odds and low weight, so Brazen looks a good bet at reasonable value. The likes of Agerzam and Fils Angels have to be respected with proven quality, but another who looks sure to run well is Secretinthepark under champion jockey Richard Hughes, who is faultless at present.
The final race of the day features a decent field, with Country Western and Glean the two runners with most appeal. Both have had impressive starts to the season, however Country Western has a slight edge after two stylish wins. Arzur and Ayaar are both suited and have claims for a chance of an upset in what is sure to be a tricky betting heat.
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