The first classics of the season are fast approaching and there are a pair of key trials coming up from our Newbury Tips on Saturday, plus another couple at Newmarket during the week from the Craven Meeting.
We have the Fred Darling for fillies and the Greenham for colts at Newbury with the Nell Gwyn and Craven at Newmarket on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
There was a prolific period between 1990 and 1999 when four winners of the Fred Darling went on to be victorious in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. Salsabil, Shadayid, Bosra Sham and Wince completed the double but none have managed the feat since.
A total of fifteen fillies will be aiming to tick off the first leg of the double and be the first in twenty years to follow up at Newmarket on May 5th. Headed by Dancing Vega, who could hardly have created a bigger impression when bolting up on her debut at Doncaster at the backend of last season.
So Perfect leads the dangers having been third in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes in September. But just one winning favourite in the past ten years means nothing can be discounted.
The last horse to complete the Greenham and 2,000 Guineas double was the magnificent Frankel back in 2011, but there have been a couple of near misses since then. Kingman was an impressive winner in 2014 over Night Of Thunder, before the latter narrowly reversed the form at Newmarket. In 2017, Barney Roy looked all class when winning the Greenham before filling the runner up position behind Churchill in the 2,000 Guineas.
Champion two-year-old Too Darn Hot sadly misses the race, but it gives it a more competitive look now. Hello Youmzain boasts some strong form from last season and ended the year with an impressive Group 2 win.
Boitron is two from two at this distance and looked a smart prospect last campaign while Mohaather won a Group 3 over course and distance to sign off the season in October and looks an improver.
A small period in the 1980’s proved excellent for the Nell Gwyn winner, with 3 winners in five years doing the double with the 1,000 Guineas in the shape of Fairy Footsteps, Pebbles and Oh So Sharp. But since then, only one horse has succeeded – Speciosa in 2006.
Mot Juste took her form to a new level when signing off last season with a course and distance Group 3 win over Angel’s Hideaway who could well be back for more.
An extremely solid yardstick as a two-year-old was Main Edition, who won the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and was generally consistent to a high level. Throw in exciting debut winner Fashion’s Star and we could have a very strong renewal of the Nell Gwyn Stakes.
A more than notable winner of the Craven Stakes last season, Masar could only manage 3rd when sent off favourite for the 2,000 Guineas, but got his deserved classic success in the Derby at Epsom. He couldn’t replicate Haafhd who is the most recent horse to do the Craven/Guineas double in 2004.
A number of unexposed types with bundles of potential hold entries here, none more so than Zakouski, who was impressive when beating a previous winner on his only start to date.
Set Piece and Kadar are another pair who are unbeaten and could be anything, while Royal Marine has achieved much more in already being a Group 1 winner in France on Arc weekend.
The Craven is always a quality race and is one to take note of with a view to the rest of the season and considering it’s over the same course and distance as the 2,000 Guineas, it’s an ideal trial.