April gives way to May this weekend as the jumps season gives way to the Flat. With attention now totally turned to the level it is time for the first Classics of the season at Newmarket. A wide open edition of the 2,000 Guineas takes top billing this weekend and is the feature race of the day on ITV Racing. The Guineas does have a good supporting cast earlier in the day though so there is a lot for horse racing fans and punters in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:50 “My Oddsboost” On Betfair Suffolk Stakes
Class 2, 1m1f
The betting market for the Suffolk Stakes has been reformed after some fairly well fancied horses defected but it remains a strong-looking handicap to kick off the day’s ITV Racing action. There aren’t too many races run over 1m1f and Charlie Appleby will hope that plays into the hands of Bright Melody who was last seen winning over this trip in Meydan in February.
Mark Johnston and all connected to Maydanny will also have reason to hope that they have found the perfect race for him to begin his season. The five year old had an up and downtime of it last year but he certainly retains all of the class required to win at a higher level than this. He has been caught for pace over a mile and not been able to hang on over 1m2f so this could be the Goldilocks trip for Maydanny who has run well fresh before and interests at odds of 11/2.
2:05 MansionBet Best Odds Guaranteed Conqueror Fillies’ Stakes
After making steady progress last year, Lilac Road was given a crack against some of the best juvenile milers at the end of the season. She ran about as well as you would expect of a 50/1 shot in the Fillies’ Mile but is by no means a horse to give up on. Indeed, William Haggas’s filly upset the odds in a three runner race on her all-weather debut earlier this month showing real grit to hold off the challenge of the odds-on favourite at Kempton.
That grit will be important as she takes on older horses in the Conqueror Fillies’ Stakes even as she is compensated on weight for age terms. The nature of Lilac Road’s run last time out suggested that she will be seen to best effect over slightly further than a mile but you can understand why she is staying over a mile for her first run on turf of the season. This could be another very positive step in the right direction for Lilac Road.
2:25 Betfair Palace House Stakes
Group 3, 5f
One of the main talking points from the opening weeks of the Flat racing season is the lack of top-class sprinters that have materialised. The Palace House Stakes rarely attracts superstars but with a potential lack of talent in the sprint division could one of the nine horses in the field for this Group 3 start on a path that leads to top-level success?
Ed Walker is hopeful that there is much more to come from Came From The Dark who is the 5/1 second-favourite for the Palace House. The five year old has shown flashes of very good form but still has a long way to climb up the ranks as he steps out of handicap company and into a Group 3. Walker already has a couple of different plans for Came From The Dark’s season subject to how he gets on at Newmarket. The lack of depth in the field suggests that it could be all systems go for Plan A after a second win of the season with Hollie Doyle back on board having partnered him to success in Newbury.
2:40 Cliff Stud Thirsk Hunt Cup Handicap
Class 2, 1m
The final declarations for the Thirsk Hunt Cup were a pleasant surprise to anybody looking forward to the race and involved with the course. Some of the market leaders were expected to defect to Newmarket but they’ve stood their ground at Thirsk and the race is all the more competitive for it.
Sir Michael Stoute is one of the trainers who had a big decision to make. He has decided to run Astro King in the Thirsk Hunt Cup where he will meet Nugget again rather than enter him for the Suffolk Stakes. Astro King got the better of that rival in Nottingham handicap earlier in the month. Nugget has since gone on to win which is good for his connections but it does mean that there has been just a one-pound change in the relative weights between the top two in the betting for the Thirsk feature. You’ve got to think that Astro King remains well treated off a mark of 95 and that he is the one to beat at a price of 9/2.
3:00 Betfair Exchange Jockey Club Stakes
Group 2, 1m4f
William Muir has taken advantage of the new rules allowing horses in Britain to be officially co-trained by partnering up with Chris Grassick. The partnership has some very good horses at their Lambourn base of whom Pyledriver can produce the most success this season. He had a long season as a three year old and while he fell short in both the Derby and the St Leger there are high hopes about him as he is set to be campaigned almost exclusively over his best trip of a mile and a half.
This Group 2 race is a nice place for Pyledriver to begin his four year old campaign. The small field should ensure that he has no traffic problems when he looks to pick them up from the rear of the field as is his preferred style of racing. He’s a very strong traveller with an excellent turn of foot and the big colt should have too much for his competition at odds of 9/4.
3:40 Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes
Group 1, 1m
The 2000 Guineas has not always been an easy race for punters to call in recent years. Since Frankel won the first Classic of the year at odds of 1/2 in 2011, winners have gone in at 40/1, 14/1 and 10/1. Four favourites have obliged in that spell but this year’s favourite, Wembley, is a bigger price than the favourite of the Grand National which shows just how open the 2000 Guineas is this time around.
Wembley (6/1) is trained by Aidan O’Brien, the man who has won five of the last nine renewals. He also has Battleground (7/1) who has a chance if the rain around Newmarket is on the heavy end of the forecast. Nobody has trained more winners of this race and O’Brien is once again backing himself to get Wembley and Battleground just right without the benefit of a prep race. However, neither of them really appeals at the prices but could the master trainer have one who is overlooked in Van Gogh who can be backed at 9/1?
Van Gogh didn’t always look like a potential superstar during his juvenile campaign but when he got it right he was very good indeed. The big colt was always likely to take a lot of work and his best performance of last season came when winning the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud by four lengths. That run came on heavy ground but he ran well on a firmer surface as well and providing his own prep has gone well at home he has every chance of at least running into a place at a decent price of 9/1.