20 March 2009
You could look through all the pages I have ever written for the ‘News’ and you will always find that I am at my happiest at this time of year.I love the start of the flat racing season. This is the time I can start talking about the epic races ahead with some degree of certainty that they will be run and that those who say they are going to participate will be there.
National Hunt racing is a fine sport and is hoss racing at its very best. A titled lady, the dowager Duchess of Bedford, with whom I chat from time to time summed jumping racing up perfectly when she said the hosses make you feel so humble.
Jump racing is not for the faint hearted. The jockeys are magnificently brave but the hosses are braver. My beef with jump racing is that it makes my job of finding Saturday winners for you on a Tuesday virtually impossible. Hosses are multiple entered, meeting are called off and there is a general lack of information about what is running where until they come under orders.
So at this time of the year I breathe a sigh of relief when I can talk to you about the upcoming 2000 Guineas, the 1000 Guineas and the very first big handicap of the season, the Lincoln at Doncaster on Saturday week, with a bloody good idea of who will be in the field.
By comparison, the Grand National, the greatest betting race in the world is still a minefield of possible runners, probable non-runners, don't- knows and the weights could be anybody's guess.
The new favourite for the 2000 Guineas is Brian Meehan's Crowded House. The Racing Post Trophy winner has been installed as clear 6-1 favourite for the Stan James 2000 Guineas on May 2 although the trainer states that he is not certain to run.
However, the market is extremely confused.
Rip Van Winkle has been eased out of favouritism and can be backed at 8-1 from 6-1 while his fellow Ballydoyle candidate the champion European juvenile Mastercraftsman has come in to share joint favourite position with Crowded House with some of the bookmakers.
It is all bubbling under very nicely. Watch this space.
The 1000 Guineas market is dominated by John Gosden's Rainbow View. The trainer reports that she is still only cantering at this stage and will work up to speed with a full training gallop at Newmarket at the Craven meeting.
Like the colts the fillies are all under wraps until they can be brought up to full racing pitch in about a month's time.
A live outsider for the fillies Guineas is Alan Bailey's Aspen Darlin. A 33-1 shot in the ante post market. Her trainers describes her rather barmily as "A Posh Spice. Skinny as a rake but plenty of class." Class? Posh Spice? Not a word I would use but everybody to their own opinion.
Trainer Gosden could also have a winning hand in the Lincoln to be run on Saturday week with Expresso Star and Charm School both likely to line up. Both are owned by Princess Haya of Jordan and they share 10-1 joint favouritism with the bookmakers.
Gosden said that they both worked at the weekend and if they are in good form coming into the race they will both run. The big danger to them is last year's winner Smokey Oakey but he is set to shoulder a big top weight and the trainer states he is not certain to run.
The big race next Saturday is the Group 3 Winter Derby at Lingfield. My confident selection for the race is the Chris Wall trained Premio Loco who earned his tilt at the all weather crown with a fine win at Kempton last month in the Listed Ladybird Stakes.
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