City Of Troy: Calm in the pre-parade ring at Newmarket
City Of Troy: Calm in the pre-parade ring at Newmarket

Newmarket paddock notes from the QIPCO 2000 and 1000 Guineas

Timeform's David Cleary shares his paddock notes from the QIPCO 2000 and 1000 Guineas last weekend.

Those of us that take their eye off Flat racing once the traditional turf season ends, concentrating on jumping, may need to rethink our strategy after events on the Rowley Mile last weekend. Both Guineas were won by horses that made their debut on the all-weather after the November Handicap had been run. The same is true of the first two home in the Pretty Polly Stakes, Friendly Soul and Kalpana, and it's not out of the question that one or other of that pair could add a further classic to the synthetics starters Group 1 haul.

Kalpana had made rapid progress since winning at Wolverhampton in January on debut, her powerful performance in scoring in a handicap at the Craven meeting suggesting she was destined for much better things. Such was the impression created that she was sent off at odds on in the listed Pretty Polly. She was able to improve again, running to a level good enough to win an average renewal of the race but not good enough to get the better of the once-raced Friendly Soul.

The maiden Friendly Soul had won at Kempton in December was a pretty ordinary affair. However, she was running for a stable with a fine record in the Pretty Polly, had been given Royal Ascot entries, including in the Coronation Stakes, and had learnt more than enough to hold off the sustained challenge of the favourite. The pair pulled well clear of the rest, recording a good overall time in a well-run race, the form on a par with that shown by the 1000 Guineas principals later in the afternoon.

Both Friendly Soul and Kalpana are good-looking fillies with plenty of substance to them, who stood out against their six opponents. Both shaped as if they will stay a mile and a half, though Kalpana would be the more certain to do so on pedigree. Neither of them is in the Oaks, but would be worth supplementing. Friendly Soul does have an entry in the Prix de Diane, so a trip to Chantilly could well be on the cards instead.

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In any case, the Gosden yard has other options for Epsom. Perhaps the most interesting is the Siyouni filly Siyola, who made a taking debut in landing a novice at Sandown the previous week. Siyola, another attractive filly with scope, showed signs of inexperience, but the penny dropped just in time for her to overtake her stable-companion Beeley close home. She can be expected to improve significantly. The Listed Fillies' Trial at Newbury in a couple of weeks might be a good option.

Back at Newmarket, another debutant filly who created a good impression was Sea Just In Time, who won the valuable maiden that opened the meeting with plenty to spare. Unlike the fillies named earlier, Sea Just In Time isn't that substantial, but she found a good turn of foot to beat some promising rivals comprehensively. She might not be ready in time for the Oaks (would need supplementing too), but she'll be up to tackling listed/pattern company sooner rather than later.

As for the Qipco 1000 Guineas itself, there were a couple of encouraging efforts by Oaks candidates, Tamfana and Ylang Ylang. Fourth home Ylang Ylang is a fair bit shorter than Tamfana, who was a smidgin ahead of her, in the ante-post lists, though that's surely more on stable and perceived chance coming into the race than anything else. In terms of physique, Tamfana has quite a bit more about her.

In terms of performance, Tamfana and Ylang Ylang both shaped as if they will be well suited by stepping up in trip. However, one of the two really ought to have won and it wasn't Ylang Ylang. Tamfana travelled well under a typically patient Spencer ride, but she was in behind horses when she needed to make her move and had to switch outside. Although she made rapid strides late on, it was just all too late.

The Guineas was well run and four of the first five came from a fair way off the pace. The exception was Ramatuelle. I wasn't the only practitioner of the dark arts that was sure they would have egg on their face as she looked home for all money with a furlong to run. She was deeply unimpressive in appearance/physique beforehand, yet ran a cracker. Whether it was her rider kicking on too soon or her stamina ebbing away that avoided pundit embarrassment remains to be seen. Ramatuelle is in the Coronation Stakes and the Commonwealth Cup; I'd be tempted to drop back the quarter mile for the latter.

The Guineas paddock pick was probably Star Style, but she looked to have learnt the wrong lessons from her debut win at Newbury and dropped away after racing freely in front. She probably needs calmer waters for the time being.

The ante-post favourite Fallen Angel looked to have done well since last autumn and she travelled better than most, but was closer to the pace than ideal and faded late. She's worth another chance.

In the 2000 Guineas the previous day, all eyes were on City of Troy. There were differences of opinion on how well he looked – I thought he looked fine and he was relaxed as well – but there was no doubt that he hadn't made the sort of progress physically that one might have hoped. His performance was too bad to be true, and neither of the explanations offered on the day – getting upset in the stalls and getting tired – is convincing. Let's hope City of Troy is more Auguste Rodin than Air Force Blue.

The race still went to a really exciting prospect, Notable Speech, in a well-run affair that played to his strengths, showed a bright turn of foot, coming from off the pace to score in dominant fashion. He is barely four months into his career and looks set to improve still further. That will make him hard to beat wherever he goes, including tackling older rivals in the second half of the campaign.

After a below-par bunch of three year olds last summer, Charlie Appleby's yard looks to hold a better hand this time round. Although the unbeaten Endless Victory flopped badly at Newmarket and the exciting Hidden Law suffered a sad fate at Chester, Arabian Crown looked a credible Derby candidate when landing the Classic Trial at Sandown the previous week.

Arabian Crown looked to have done well since last year, settled well in the lead and saw the mile and a quarter out thoroughly. He's likely to stay another two furlongs and his demeanour suggests Epsom will be fine too.

I really liked Prince Rasam in the paddock for the Classic Trial, but he was just too immature to cope with this level at such an early stage of his career. Rather like Star Style, a drop to a less demanding grade is likely needed to get him back on an upward curve.

The main Derby pointer at the Guineas meeting, given the flops of City of Troy and Endless Victory, came from Caviar Heights. His wide-margin success in the Newmarket Stakes isn't easy to assess – it's possible nothing else ran their race – but he would appear to have improved significantly for an extra two furlongs. Physically he's more a three year old as well, and although he has a mixed pedigree, the stouter side would clearly appear to be dominant.

Among the older horses, there were surprise results in both the Jockey Club Stakes and Palace House. The latter race was messy and seven of the eight finished in a heap. It's hard to believe it's strong form. The one horse that might be of interest out of it is Twilight Calls, one of just two making their reappearance. Sweating and on his toes beforehand, he was doing his best work late on.

Twilight Calls has twice made the frame in the King's Stand and another good account, in what is now the King Charles III Stakes, is on the cards.

Talking of KC3, he and the Queen could well have a live contender for the Hardwicke Stakes. Desert Hero made a highly encouraging return over an inadequate trip in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown, clawing back the winner Okeechobee at the line after getting done for foot.

Finally, back at Newmarket for one of the best two-year-old performances I've seen this spring. Pinatubo's close relation Mountain Breeze made a winning debut in a race that has gone to a subsequent Queen Mary winner and an Albany third in its previous two runnings. Mountain Breeze has plenty about her for a pre-Ascot juvenile, perhaps more than her sibling, and the Albany looks sure to be the target.

I said finally, but finally finally a definite thumbs up for having the stalls in the centre of the course on all three days at Newmarket, which made for some very fair races.

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