The Trials are under way for the first classics of the 2015 flat racing season. John Gosden’s Faydhan flopped in the Free Handicap this week while there were victories for Kool Kompany and Osaila in the Craven and the Nell Gwyn Stakes respectively. Here is an update on the current market leaders.
Aidan O’Brien’s Found is a strong favourite for the 1000 Guineas on the strength of her impressive victory in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac last October.
She quickened to beat Ervedya and Jack Naylor decisively and the form has since been boosted by the runner-up. Ervedya won the Group 3 Prix Impudence in very soft ground and is likely to head to Newmarket for His Highness The Aga Khan. She handles the ground so well that day that there must be a slight concern that she will struggle on a faster surface.
Found had beaten her stable companion Together Forever at the Curragh on her debut before finishing third to Cursory Glance in the Moyglare. That race was on good to firm ground over seven furlongs with the pair separated by Lucida. Together Forever went on to win the Group 1 Dubai Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket and is also on course for the Guineas. Richard Hannon’s Osaila was just edged out of fourth place on the line. She won the Nell Gwyn Stakes by a short-head from the persistent New Providence on her seasonal reappearance.
Beautiful Romance ran on well to finish third and is currently thought most likely to lead the Godolphin challenge. That was only her second start having won her maiden at Doncaster by nine lengths last October. She is trained by Saeed bin Suroor who also has brilliant UAE Guineas and Oaks winner Local Time entered in the race.
Veteran trainer Barry Hills has elected to go straight to the Guineas with Salisbury maiden winner Fadhayyil, runner-up to Lucida in the Rockfel Stakes. She enjoyed a racecourse gallop at the Craven meeting, the same preparation that was employed successfully with Ghanaati in 2009.
Richard Hannon could also have a second string to his bow with Tiggy Wiggy. She was a brilliant two-year-old but is not guaranteed to get a mile. She runs in the Fred Darling Stakes over seven furlongs, after which a decision will be made about the Guineas.
Latest odds (16.04.15) 5-2 Found, 9-1 Together Forever, 10-1 Ervedya, 12-1 Lucida, Osaila, 14-1 Fadhayyil, 16-1 Beautiful Romance, Malabar, 20-1 bar
Ballydoyle also dominate the market for the 2000 Guineas, despite the eclipse of John F Kennedy in his trial. The hot favourite is Gleneagles, the winner of the Grand Criterium at Longchamp, although later disqualified and placed third.
That was the fifth consecutive race in which the son of Galileo had passed the post in front. He had been particularly impressive when winning the seven-furlong National Stakes at the Curragh. Not unlike Australia last year, the horse has been the subject of heavy ante-post support this spring with his price crashing from 10-1 in early March to around 5-2.
He could be joined in the race by stable companion Highland Reel, another progressive son of Galileo. He won a minor race at Gowran Park by eight lengths in July and followed up by winning the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
Richard Hannon’s Ivawood suffered his first defeat when beaten by Charming Thought in the Middle Park in October and bids to redeem his reputation in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury. He will be joined in the field by stable companion Estidkhaar, a disappointing favourite in the Dewhurst. That race was won by Belardo in a first-time hood and he will also make his reappearance at Newbury for new owners, Godolphin.
Racing Post Trophy winner Elm Park will go straight to the 2000 Guineas, although he is widely regarded as a Derby prospect. His victories at Newmarket and Doncaster are more often responsible for producing Epsom contenders but Balding is convinced that he has the speed to be competitive in the first colt’s classic. He has won on all types of ground but any ease in the going would probably be in his favour.
One of the earliest classic trials was at Leopardstown where Zawraq emerged an impressive winner for Dermot Weld. The son of Shamardal is out of a Sadler’s Wells mare and connections believe he will definitely make a Derby colt. A final decision on his participation at Newmarket is yet to be made.
Golden Horn earned quotes of 16-1 after winning the Feilden Stakes at the Craven meeting for John Gosden. However, his future looks likely to be over middle distances with the Dante Stakes or the French Derby mooted as possible targets.
The Guineas could also receive the added interest of an American raider in the form of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hootenanny. Trainer Wesley Ward brought him over to win at Royal Ascot as a two-year-old and he could run at Newmarket if he impresses at Keeneland in his trial.
Latest odds (16.04.15) 9-4 Gleneagles, 9-2 Ivawood, 8-1 Highland Reel, 12-1 Zawraq, 14-1 Elm Park, Flaming Spear, Ol Man River, 16-1 Golden Horn, Belardo 20-1 bar