Charlie McCann of BetVictor.com previews the weekend’s racing and picks out his best bets
Aidan O’Brien saddles three of the ten colts who will go to post for the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket this afternoon, including short-priced favourite Churchill, as he bids to land the first classic of the year for a record eighth time.
Churchill won his last five juvenile starts including two at Group 1 level but at 5/4 with BetVictor he is reluctantly overlooked despite optimistic noises coming out of Ballydoyle. The favourite ended his 2-y-old campaign by winning the Dewhurst Stakes but the last three O’Brien winners of that contest (Beethoven, War Command and Air Force Blue) never went on as expected.
The each way nod goes to the unbeaten Martyn Meade-trained Eminent (3.30) who followed up his win over today’s C&D with another win over the Rowley Mile when landing the Craven Stakes last month. The selection, a son of the great Frankel, is an 11/2 shot with BetVictor and is taken to give his sire a classic winner with his first progeny.
BetVictor were 12/1 during the winter for Frankel to sire a classic winner in 2017 but that has been cut to 7/2 on the eve of Guineas’ weekend with Fair Eva and Queen Kindly in the field for Sunday’s 1000 Guineas.
Today’s card begins with a fiercely competitive handicap over nine furlongs and Sir Michael Stoute’s progressive Ballet Concerto (3/1 at BetVictor) must go close given the lightly-raced 4-year-old has won three of his last four starts. Jim Crowley, however, also gets the leg up on Next Stage (1.50) who was one of my flat horses to follow at the beginning of the season and I see no reason to desert him despite a 6lbs rise for landing a mile contest here last month. The selection is 7/2 at BetVictor and I think he can make up into a Group class performer this season.
Seventh Heaven (2.55) carries a 3lb penalty for her Gp1 successes last season in the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks but she is taken to land the Jockey Club Stakes for Ballydoyle having ran an excellent race on her reappearance in the Sheema Classic out in Dubai on ground (yielding) which had gone against her following heavy rain.
The selection is 5/4 at BetVictor and has most to feat from Stoute’s Royal Ascot winner Across The Stars. The Newmarket handler has saddled the winner of this Gp 2 contest eight times but I would be disappointed if this Sea The Stars colt was good enough to beat the O’Brien filly even with her 3lbs penalty.
In the last the form of Son Of The Stars (5.20) recent Chelmsford win was franked by the win of the runner up (Prosper) at Ascot earlier in the week and an 8lbs rise might not be enough to prevent him maintaining his unbeaten record, having also scored on debut at Kempton back in December. I think there is much more to come from Eagle Creek this summer but he may struggle to give 6lbs to the selection who is 13/8 at BetVictor.
There is a valuable 3m Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter and I hope to see Join The Clan (3.55) follow up his recent Fakenham success although it is fair to say an 8lbs rise looks harsh given it was a modest contest. Good ground clearly suits and the selection has always promised to make up into a decent chaser.
Optimistic Bias (5.05) is only 5lbs higher than when scoring over C&D on soft ground last month and could follow up for James Evans and Liam Tredwell who got a good tune out of the former Jonjo O’Neill inmate last time.
In Sunday’s 1000 Guineas Fair Eva (6/1 from 8s) is the subject of favourable home reports from Beckhampton but Rhododendron (3.35) was a ready winner of the Fillies’ Mile and will take some beating if in the same mood as when taking her field apart back in October. She is 7/4 with BetVictor and does have by far the best form in the book although her stablemate Winter has also attracted significant support in the build up to the fillies’ classic.
Somehow (2.20) won a listed contest at Naas just a week ago and can confirm last August’s Curragh form with Skiffle who may find this nine furlong trip just on the sharp side this term. The selection made the running for stablemate Minding in last season’s Oaks but she looks a Group performer in her won right and gets the vote in the Dahlia Stakes.
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