The first Classics of the British season – the Qipco 2000 and 1000 Guineas – are scheduled to take place at Newmarket on the first weekend of racing’s return, June 6-7.
There remains a certain element of having a bet blindfolded on either race right now, but nevertheless here are four elements to factor in when looking ahead to Newmarket.
The Ballydoyle conundrum
Trainer Aidan O’Brien mentioned a number of potential runners for both Classics this week but there is still plenty of water to pass under the bridge yet.
Arizona and Wichita were labelled as possibles to take on Pinatubo in the 2000 Guineas, but there is the added complication of the Irish Classic less than a week later and Royal Ascot hot on the heels of that.
The waters are muddy but Arizona remains most likely to take on Pinatubo, with the thinking he would continue on to the St James’s Palace Stakes.
The same can be said for the fillies. Along with Love, So Wonderful and Peaceful, O’Brien has a clatter of classy fillies to factor into his plans.
Last season trainer Jessica Harrington raced a number of very talented fillies and finding suitable opportunities for them now presents its own challenges.
Millisle, last season’s champion two-year-old filly, is pencilled in for the 1000 Guineas while Albigna is more likely for the Irish 1000 Guineas. Alpine Star had been going to France but can no longer do so due to restrictions, so could be rerouted.
When choosing the likely destinations for her fillies, Harrington can be assumed to have chosen Newmarket for Millisle as she is proven at the track and that if she didn’t stay the trip, she would have an extra week to prepare for the 6f Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
Alpine Star may well be more of an Oaks type but should not be underestimated if rocking up for either race.
Even with the opposition likely to be reduced, 2000 Guineas favourite Pinatubo and 1000 Guineas market leader Quadrilateral don’t appeal as value at even money and 3-1 respectively.
Pinatubo set the world alight last season but there have been many exceptional two-year-olds that have failed to train on, and his small size is a worry. Arizona would look the most obvious danger to him and he is a double-figure price.
There won’t be the same worries about Quadrilateral training on but whether she represents value at 3-1 remains to be seen.
Love has attracted some each-way support but Alpine Star could be something of a forgotten filly.
The French raider
British and Irish runners will not be permitted to run in France but French participation should be allowed at Newmarket, which makes the Andre Fabre-trained Alson interesting.
Alson was with Jean-Pierre Carvalho last year, and he thought the horse was essentially a seven-furlong type who got outstayed by Victor Ludorum in the 1m Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.
Many horses who didn’t quite stay a mile at two can strengthen up and get the trip at three but it could be something to factor in when considering the French raider.
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