The Gp 1 Irish 2000 Guineas is the highlight of a wonderful day of flat racing in Britain and Ireland this afternoon with Newmarket Guineas’ winner Magna Grecia going head-to-head with last season’s leading juvenile Too Darn Hot – who had a hard race when making his reappearance over an extended 10f in the Dante just nine days ago at York.
The betting suggests it is a two-horse race with Aidan O’Brien’s classic winner 13/8 with BetVictor and John Gosden’s colt – whose stamina gave way on the Knavesmire and returns to a mile today – 11/8 market leader. Both main protagonists are drawn wide enough, and I am going to take an each way chance on Phoenix Of Spain (3.35) even though the selection is making his belated seasonal reappearance.
The selection cannot afford to get too far back under Jamie Spencer from stall one and did finish behind both market leaders last term – albeit just a head behind Magna Grecia in the Gp1 Vertem Futurity at Doncaster back in October. The selection is 14/1 with BetVictor and I hope it is a big day for the yard of Charlie Hills.
Hills’ also saddles Battash (4.00) in the Gp 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock and the 5-year-old has a record first time out of 111 including when giving weight and a beating to his rivals in the corresponding race 12 months ago.
The confident selection – 5/4 favourite with BetVictor – gave the admirable Mabs Cross 8lbs when winning here last season and is 10lbs better off this afternoon although Michael Dods’ mare has improved in the interim period.
Tom Dascombe’s Kachy should give jockey Jim Crowley something to aim at and the selection has had his wind tweaked since he finished fourth to Mabs Cross in the Prix l’ Abbeye at Longchamp. Note the selection is 6lbs better off for three-quarters of a length with the mare on that Paris run.
In the opening 2m Handicap Eden Rose (2.15) must prove she can be as equally effective on turf as she is on an all-weather surface having improved out of all recognition since stepped up to two miles for Mick Channon.
The selection is 5lbs higher than when landing the Queen’s Prize at Kempton and who knows how far this progressive filly can go. The selection is 5/2 at BetVictor and I feel she remains potentially well treated.
Awe (2.50) pulled hard and didn’t have the smoothest of passages when second at Ascot over 7f on his reappearance. A 4lbs rise looks harsh but he is well drawn, carries little weight and today’s faster ground holds no terrors. He is likely to need luck in running, but at 11/2 with BetVictor he is an each way recommendation.
Island Of Life (4.35) was desperately unlucky on all-weather finals day over 7f at Lingfield on Good Friday but is taken to reverse form with winner Heavenly Holly – given a rare winning ride from the front by Ryan Moore – back on turf. The 3-y-old Signora Cabello was a leading juvenile last term, but her reappearance at Ascot was underwhelming, and she is overlooked.
At Cartmel, I was disappointed with Tonto’s Spirit (3.50) last run having his first start for Dianne Sayer. The hope is that he can return to the form of his chase debut when he jumped soundly when runner up to the promising novice Destrier of Dan Skelton.
The King’s Baby (4.25) may face a battle for the lead this afternoon with at least two other potential front-runners in the field but I hope to see his jumping win the day having made all at Stratford last weekend. The selection carries a 7lbs penalty today, but he is taken to follow up as long as his leading amateur jockey does not get embroiled in a battle for the lead.
Magical (3.50) is difficult to oppose in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh tomorrow and in the Irish 1000 Guineas I hope to see Just Wonderful (4.25) improve past her stablemate Hermosa who made most to win the Newmarket classic.
At 7/1 with BetVictor I would be disappointed if she didn’t give her stablemate more to think about than was the case at HQ and she is the each way selection. Note stable jockey Ryan Moore jumps ship to Hermosa leaving Donnacha O’Brien – who rode the winner at Newmarket – to take over on Just Wonderful.