This evening’s Irish 1000 Guineas is, arguably, the weekend highlight but we start our preview at Sandown where I think Ascension might be a vulnerable market leader in the 7f handicap unless the ground turns good to soft or worse.
If that is the case, I will certainly be jumping ship from Impressor (2.05) who has had a wind operation since finishing third in the Horris Hill on heavy ground last autumn. The form took a knock when the winner – Kenzai Warrior – failed to give his running in the 2000 Guineas last weekend although I am convinced, he is much better than that as his race was compromised by an untidy start. Charlie Appleby’s Well Of Wisdom is well drawn for one who likes to lead but I hope he helps set the race up for Marcus Tregoning’s colt who is 11/2 with Boylesports
One of the most interesting runners of the weekend is the returning Sunday Sovereign – backed from 11/4 to 9/4 on Friday – who has his first start for Roger Varian having been off the track since a beaten market leader in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot 12 months ago. The colt showed blistering speed for much of the race but was a bit keen and failed to get home. This 3-y-old only race looks an ideal starting point and he remains a promising sprinter.
The vote, however, goes to Lazuli (2.40) who came clear with Smokey Bear at Newmarket in a hot handicap last weekend over 6f. The return to the minimum trip is no concern and he can pick up the Varian sprinter inside the final furlong. He is 10/3 with bet365.
Exec Chief is a horse I have plenty of time for, but I have heard a good word for Solid Stone (3.15) in the competitive 10f handicap. Sir Michael Stoute’s four-year-old finished runner up over C&D back in July and that form has been boosted by the subsequent exploits of the winner Maamora who is now rated 11lbs higher. The selection is 5/2 with bet365.
Champion jockey Oisin Murphy has a good book of rides at Doncaster and I hope to see James Tate’s Publicist (1.05) build on the promise he showed at Newmarket last week in the 6f juvenile Maiden. The John Gosden trained newcomer Isle Of May is bred to be smart, but he lacks the experience of the selection which may prove crucial.
Joyful Mission (3.25) was keen to post and failed to get home at Goodwood over 10f when last seen back in August. He has been gelded in the interim period and drops back to a mile on his seasonal reappearance for Sir Michael Stoute. Murphy takes over in the saddle and he has been dropped a couple of pounds for his last start.
Edraak was visually very impressive when sprinting clear of his field at Newcastle over 6f last week on what was only his second career start. The winning time was nothing special, however, and he steps up in trip reverting to turf.
Gale Force Maya (2.15) has yet to win over 7f but she has won first time out in both seasons so far and she gets the each way vote for Michael Dods. The filly began last season on a mark of 64 and begins this tern fully 21lbs higher. She may not yet have reached her ceiling and was put in at 5/1 with William Hill on Friday afternoon.
The form of Favorite Moon’s (4.30) third at Wolverhampton back in the autumn has been franked by the first two so far this term and there is every chance that the William Haggas-trained colt will improve for the step up to 12f this afternoon.
The winner of the Wolves race – Celestron – is trained by John Gosden and he saddles Indigo Lake who is a lightly-raced son of Frankel but has a bit to find with the selection through Hughie Morrison’s Kipps. The 9/4 with William Hill didn’t last long and, at the time of writing, he was around about a 13/8 shot.
In the Irish 1000 Guineas Albigna is reported to have worked extremely well in the build up to the classic by those near the yard of Jessica Harrington and jockey Shane Foley appeared bullish when asked about het on Racing TV earlier in the week. The form of her Prix Marcel Boussac success at Longchamp on Arc day has not worked out, however, and at 7/4 she is overlooked.
The form of the Mick Halford team is a worry but I was impressed with the winning debut of Ridenza (7.15) at Leopardstown last August and she is taken to land each way support in what looks a sub -par renewal of the race. The filly won despite fracturing a pastern during the race and was operated on the morning after her debut success. I would have preferred the filly to have more experience than just the one career start and the trainer was keen to get a run into her before the Guineas, but it was not meant to be. A good run from stablemate Sinnawann in the colts’ race on Friday would be a positive sign.
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