Matt Brocklebank splits stakes between three horses in an open-looking QIPCO 1000 Guineas market, including a 50/1 shot for Aidan O'Brien.
Antepost Angle: QIPCO 1000 Guineas
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Dandhu put down a tidy marker for the QIPCO 1000 Guineas with victory in Saturday’s Fred Darling at Newbury, after which she was cut to a general 12/1 for the fillies’ Classic.
Gerald Mosse seemed at pains not to give her a particularly hard race on her first run since September so it bodes well for the rest of her campaign that the daughter of Dandy Man was still able to edge out Iconic Choice, So Perfect and Star Terms.
If you’re wanting to be harsh then only a couple of short-heads and three-quarters of a length split the first quartet, but it looks solid enough form despite the runner-up going into it rated 101 after a nine-race juvenile campaign.
Dandhu’s victory did, however, pay a pretty significant compliment to one of her potential Newmarket rivals, namely Just Wonderful, who had a length and a quarter to spare over David Elsworth’s filly in second when winning the Rockfel over seven furlongs of the Rowley Mile last season.
Just Wonderful spearheads the Aidan O’Brien challenge on the Guineas, according to the current prices at least, and she can certainly be excused a relatively disappointing effort when blown away by Newspaperofrecord in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf when last sighted.
She had, however, been beaten 10 lengths by Skitter Scatter in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh prior to Newmarket, and it’s that race which appears to represent the strongest single piece of form from last term.
Skitter Scatter, denied narrowly by So Perfect over six furlongs earlier in the summer, improved plenty for the move up to seven as the year wore on and signed off with three straight wins, culminating in a stunning two-length defeat of Lady Kaya, with Hermosa, Zagitova, Main Edition and Beyond Reason all beaten off, along with seventh home Just Wonderful.
With Lady Kaya coming out to win Leopardstown’s 1000 Guineas Trial so easily from Happen and the penalised Fillies’ Mile winner Iridessa, she looks the key horse to focus on and Skitter Scatter is a perfectly fair 10/1 favourite (Coral) following her switch from Patrick Prendergast to John Oxx (after the pair joined forces, with Oxx the official licence-holder) in the off-season.
But the Lady Kaya form also leads back to FAIRYLAND and she may represent a touch of value at 12/1 (General).
She had Lady Kaya two and a half lengths in arrears in sixth when winning the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket on September 29 and that strictly looks very close to Skitter Scatter’s level, if not quite on a par.
O’Brien’s imposing daughter of Kodiac was said to have been suffering a bit physically through the middle of the summer - “they were all very sick” was the trainer’s assessment following the Cheveley Park – so it reflects pretty well that Fairyland was able to win four of her five starts at two.
She was obviously a very forward juvenile, winning twice in May including an easy victory against the boys at the Curragh, but the way she finished the season has to give plenty of encouragement that she’ll be able to train on and make the grade at three.
She was chinned in a three-way go for the Albany Stakes – Main Edition scoring at the Royal meeting – but stepped up to beat The Mackem Bullet in the Lowther Stakes at York, and the same horse in the Cheveley Park.
With So Perfect back in third that day and previous top-class winner Pretty Pollyanna fourth, there’s loads of substance to it.
The Mackem Bullet has since joined Wesley Ward and won a couple of times, while reports from America suggest she could be heading back to Britain for another crack at Fairyland in the Guineas.
She is now at least proven over a mile but Fairyland appeared to just outstay her last year and there’s every chance O’Brien’s filly, whose half-sister Now Or Later stayed a mile, will get the trip on decent ground at Newmarket.
Described as “straightforward and uncomplicated” by O’Brien, he’s also on record as saying the Ballydoyle team have always seen Fairyland staying further and, given her size and scope at two, she could end up being a crack miler this time around.
O’Brien - who has 13 horses still engaged this year - has won the 1000 Guineas on four occasions, including with fillies who returned 25/1, 12/1 and 9/1 (Minding was far more 'findable' at 11/10) and two of Fairyland’s stablemates look worth backing to small stakes at much bigger prices as well.
Both represent a similar Lady Kaya form line after they caught the eye doing some decent late work in the recent Leopardstown Trial.
The fourth ZAGITOVA was ridden by Ryan Moore on the day and went off the shortest price of O'Brien’s five runners in the race.
She has always been well regarded and, despite coming up short at the highest level last year, this was a run on which she can surely build.
She was 2/1 favourite to beat Skitter Scatter in the Debutante Stakes but was outpaced by that rival on a couple of occasions over seven furlongs last season, while she was palpably off-colour when beaten out of sight in the Fillies’ Mile.
However, the pleasing comeback run suggests she’s over whatever may have been troubling her in the autumn (O’Brien put it down to a long, tough year) and the daughter of Galileo is just the type to outrun her odds (50/1, Betfair/Paddy Power) when thrown into the heat of a Classic.
The other one I’m keen to have a tiny piece of is SECRET THOUGHTS (33/1, General) who might have a touch of her dam Chicquita’s quirkiness, but also possesses a huge amount of latent ability.
Chicquita won the Irish Oaks and is closely related to Ribblesdale winner Magic Wand so the further Secret Thoughts goes the better this year.
That instantly makes her quite exciting given she was able to win a six furlong maiden at Naas last June before getting within three lengths of Skitter Scatter in the Silver Flash Stakes.
She was 14/1 under Wayne Lordan in the aforementioned Guineas Trial back at Leopardstown earlier this month, but kept on at the finish to be fifth despite getting into a brief barging match early on and coming five-wide off the home bend.
There must be a slight chance she swerves Newmarket entirely and heads straight down the Oaks route (entered in the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas over 10 furlongs) but the way she travels through her races suggests she could definitely do some damage over a mile first before having her sights raised in terms of stamina.
It certainly wouldn’t be a huge shock to see her step up massively when faced with a mile and reverse form with Lady Kaya, who is as classy as they come but looks all speed at this stage.
Posted at 1100 BST on 14/04/19