The first British Classics of the season take centre stage at Newmarket this weekend with fantastic renewals of the QIPCO 2000 and 1000 Guineas the two feature contests.
There is a stack of excellent racing on the undercard of the three-day QIPCO Guineas Festival at Newmarket, all of which will be shown live on Racing TV, and I have picked out five horses to follow at the meeting. Best of luck.
A son of Teofilo, Nations Pride was a dual winner on the all-weather last season but returned to action with a smooth success at Meydan in February. Interestingly, he went off as the Godolphin second-string on that occasion, but that performance highlighted his electric turn of pace.
With only four runners, he should be suited by this small field and whilst Craven third Yoo Ha Mal, and the unexposed Subastar, are legitimate contenders, Nations Pride is taken to come out on top.
Trainer Michael Dods has a fine record with sprinters over the years and Gale Force Maya looks another exciting prospect for the Denton handler.
The six-year-old progressed through the ranks last term, culminating in a short-head second in Listed company at Newmarket in October. She returned to action with a narrow success at Newmarket this month, again highlighting her effectiveness at the track.
This race was immediately nominated as the next target and whilst she takes on the thoroughly unexposed Flotus, and Umm Kulthum, she is a sprinter at the top of her game who has a good chance of scoring again.
Trainer Henry Candy is no stranger to success with sprinters and he looks to have a serious performer on his hands in the shape of Twilight Calls.
Smart last year, he could sometimes prove a tricky ride – he was gelded over the winter – but the son of Twilight Son returned with a cosy success at Newmarket this month where he looked a rejuvenated character as he travelled with menace throughout before quickening up in fine style to score.
Given the way he races, he will need luck in running, but that gelding operation could be the making of him going forward. This is his stiffest test to date against seasoned sprinters such as Tis Marvellous, but I think he’s up to the challenge.
For many, this rests between stable companions Native Trail and Coroebus. The latter was awesome last season and impressed on his return in the Craven where he powered clear close home.
The unexposed Coroebus could be anything and he sparkled on his final start last year. Their chance is obvious as they look to provide Charlie Appleby with his first success in the Classic contest.
However, write off Aidan O’Brien at your peril. The most successful trainer in the history of the QIPCO 2000 Guineas with ten victories, his two runners are Point Lonsdale and Luxembourg.
The latter is of serious interest having gone unbeaten in three starts last season and is final start as a juvenile was a ready victory in the Vertem Futurity Trophy. Despite his high head carriage, he knuckled down to the task well to score on there and that victory came on soft ground
He will certainly enjoy the sounder surface at Newmarket on Saturday, but he clearly has to step up to trouble the Godolphin duo. However, O’Brien will have his charge thoroughly prepared for this assignment despite more aims down the line and can lower the colours of the two market leaders.