Great Britain-Ireland Preview: Godolphin duo head 2,000 Guineas field

April 29th, 2022

As the United States’ oldest continuously-run sporting event, the Kentucky Derby, gets closer, a major racing event with a 66-year longer run has its latest renewal this weekend.

April 30 sees the 214th running of the first leg of the English Triple Crown, the one-mile 2,000 Guineas (G1). Its arrival is also a sign that the European flat season has arrived in earnest, and it’s followed a day later by the fillies’ equivalent, the 209th staging of the 1,000 Guineas (G1) over the same distance.

For good measure, the weekend’s racing at Newmarket also features a Group 2 race, a Group 3, and two Listed stakes races.

Below are some spot plays for the weekend.

Newmarket, Saturday, April 30

Race 1: Kilvington Stakes (Listed), six furlongs, fillies and mares

Some good mares have paid up for this race, but the most notable is the Japanese-owned three-year-old filly #7 Flotus. Second in the Cheveley Park Stakes (G1) behind Tenebrism last season, her connections have decided to start in sprint company rather than step up to a mile for the 1,000 Guineas. If she is at her best, she should win. #6 Umm Kulthum and #1 Gale Force Maya look the best of the others.

  • $20 win: #7 Flotus
  • $1 trifecta: 6, 7 with 1, 6, 7 with 1, 2, 5, 6, 7

Race 4: Palace House Stakes (G3), five furlongs, 3-year-olds and up

The biggest question for punters is whether they like the proven form of horses racing for the first time this season, such as #1 Hurricane Ivor, #4 Came From The Dark, and #9 Tis Marvellous, or those that have had a warm-up run like #10 Twilight Calls. The latter was very impressive in winning here April 14 carrying 132 pounds, and though he is unproven in stakes company, he should have a big chance. But with the track surface looking to be good, I’m going with #1 Hurricane Ivor, who beat many of his opponents at Newbury in the World Trophy Stakes (G3) last year.

  • $10 win/$30 place: #1 Hurricane Ivor

Race 5: 2,000 Guineas (G1), one mile, 3-year-old colts and fillies

Though it has a good field, the betting is dominated locally by Godolphin’s unbeaten #10 Native Trail. A dual Group 1 winner last season, he returned in good style to win the seven-furlong Craven Stakes (G3) April 13. Native Trail can hit flat spots about three furlongs out and take a while to get to full speed, but when he does he has overwhelmed his opponents in the last furlong. He shapes as though a mile will be no problem; his biggest danger could be to a horse with a sharper turn of foot.

In this sense, his biggest danger looks to be his own stablemate #4 Coroebus. He would be unbeaten but for losing concentration in his second race, the Royal Lodge Stakes (G2), being beaten near the line after establishing a huge lead; he remedied that in the one-mile Autumn Stakes (G3), winning easily. He looks very good, but the fact that No. 1 Godolphin rider William Buick has settled on Native Trail could be telling. Nonetheless, if he starts at anything approaching the 5-1 that was on offer in England this week, he’ll be great value.

Ten-time 2,000 Guineas winner Aidan O’Brien has two strong challengers in #9 Luxembourg and #12 Point Lonsdale; the latter will need to turn his form around with Native Trail from last year’s National Stakes (G1) in Ireland, where he was comfortably beaten, while Luxembourg is unbeaten and can’t be ignored but is regarded as a better prospect for next month’s Derby (G1) at Epsom.

The other major challenger is #11 Perfect Power, a dual Group 1 winner over six furlongs last year. He resumed in style in the Greenham Stakes (G3) at Newbury April 16, staying seven furlongs easily, and though he has a bit to find on form with Native Trail, he could be at reasonable value.

In short, Native Trail probably is the one to beat, but I’m going to go with Coroebus for value and take both in exotics.

$10 win/$30 place: #4 Coroebus

  • $1 trifecta: 4, 10 with 4, 9, 10, 11 with 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12

Newmarket, Sunday, May 1

Race 3: Pretty Polly Stakes (Listed), 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-old fillies

An interesting race in that many of the fillies here have been racing on all-weather tracks. Juddmonte Farms’ Crenelle may go out favorite, but I like the look of #7 With The Moonlight, who ran well to take third in the Listed Montrose Stakes at her final start last year.

  • $10 win/$20 place: With The Moonlight

Race 4: Dahlia Stakes (G2), 1 1/8 miles, 4-year-old and up fillies and mares

The early money here is on Sir Michael Stoute’s #7 Ville De Grace, the winner of her last two as a three-year-old, including the Pride Stakes (G3) here Oct. 8. If fit, she should go very well. #3 Dreamloper was Group 1-placed last year in the Sun Chariot Stakes, but this is her first start beyond a mile, so she needs to be taken on trust. By contrast, #4 Ebaiyra has proven herself internationally, finishing third in the 1 1/2-mile Hong Kong Vase (G1) and the 1 5/16-mile Neom Turf Cup (G3) in Saudi Arabia; her biggest question is whether the trip is too short. However, she has won at 1 1/4 miles at Group 2 level in France, so I’m going to go with her for this race.

  • $10 win/$30 place: Ebaiyra

Race 5: 1,000 Guineas (G1), one mile, 3-year-old fillies

This is looking like a hard race for the English to keep at home, with six of the top seven in betting trained in either Ireland or France. The leading chance is probably #11 Tenebrism, unbeaten in two starts and winner of the six-furlong Cheveley Park Stakes (G1) last year. Her biggest challenge could be staying a mile. Stablemate #12 Tuesday is well up the betting as well, despite her only victory being a Nass maiden, but it was over a mile and it was clear-cut.

Also representing the Irish is #3 Discoveries, winner of the seven-furlong Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) last season after having beaten Tuesday on the latter’s debut and Homeless Songs, a nice winner on resuming at Leopardstown April 2.

There is some interesting form that American followers may be aware of. The leading English-trained chance is Godolphin’s #13 Wild Beauty, who beat future Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner Pizza Bianca in the Natalma Stakes at Woodbine; the race also features the French-trained #7 Malavath, second in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, and #6 Juncture, who won a leg of the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, the Patton Stakes, on the Dundalk all-weather.  Wild Beauty has the best form of the trio but against her was a disappointing fifth in the Fillies' Mile (G1) at Newmarket; however, she wasn’t far from second and may have been feeling the effects of her trip to Canada.

Incidentally, Malavath won on resuming in France this year for trainer Francis-Henri Graffard by 1 1/2 lengths from #14 Zellie, who also makes the trip to Newmarket for Andre Fabre.

It's a very open race, but with doubts about Tenebrism’s stamina I’m going with Malavath, who looks ready for the race.

  • $10 win/$20 place: Malavath