Kevin Blake's 1,000 Guineas Verdict: Elmalka can outrun her 25-1 odds

Betfair Ambassador Kevin Blake
Kevin Blake fancies a 25/1 shot in the 1,000 Guineas

It's the final day of Newmarket's Guineas meeting and all eyes are on the Fillies' Classic, and here with his Big Race Verdict is Kevin Blake...

  • First fillies' classic is a wide open affair

  • Top two in market can be opposed

  • Big-prcie filly has improvement to come

Ryan Moore Superboost (Ylang Ylang)

Ryan Moore was out of luck on City Of Troy in yesterday's 2,000 Guineas but the Betfair Ambassador holds leading claims of landing today's 1,000 Guineas aboard Ylang Ylang, and if you fancy the 3yo filly to finish in the top five today then you can back her at the super-boosted price of 6/42.50.

Back Ylang Ylang to finish Top 5 in 15:40 Newmarket @ 6/42.50

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With the Classic ball having been set rolling by the 2,000 Guineas on Saturday, the 1,000 Guineas will keep it moving at Newmarket on Sunday. The first fillies Classic of the season always presents a very deep challenge.

So many of the unknowns that we deal with in the 2,000 Guineas with regard to how well the contenders having trained on from two to three are also a big factor in this race, but there are arguably even more unknowns with fillies not just in terms of how they have trained on, but how forward they are at this early stage of the season.

Unlike the 2,000 Guineas, the fillies equivalent is a wide-open contest on paper with 16 declarations. With plenty of Group 1 juvenile form on show as well as less exposed potential improvers, it has all the ingredients to be a well up to scratch renewal of this historic race.

Pace could come from low-drawn horses

With regard to likely pace, there looks to be plenty of candidates to push forward, with much of the potential pace being concentrated in the lower-drawn half of the field.

Star Music (7) has been making the running in recent starts. Tamfana (4), Darnation (6) and Sacred Angel (9) have been racing prominently or making the running. Fallen Angel (5) and Ramatuelle (11) have been racing prominently and can help push the push.

Porta Fortuna (15) helped push the pace when winning the Cheveley Park Stakes. Regal Jubilee (8) helped push the pace in the Fred Darling last time.

Bare form questionable for Ylang Ylang

Of the leading contenders, the Aidan O'Brien-trained Ylang Ylang seems a fair starting point.

The daughter of Frankel looked one of the most promising juvenile fillies around when making all to win her first two starts last season including the Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown, but had a fair wobble when well beaten in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and again when making just late gains under a much more patient ride after missing the kick in the Rockfel Stakes.

That led her to the Fillies' Mile at Newmarket just a fortnight later where the step up in trip promised to suit, but she still had questions to answer having not gone on from the promise of the Silver Flash win.

The Fillies' Mile saw Ylang Ylang lift her form up to new heights. Again ridden with patience, she raced a little bit behind the bridle, but responded well and was making good headway into a challenging position only to be hampered and checked by the drifting Shuwari two furlongs out.

She briefly got unbalanced on the descent into the dip soon after that, but found her balance once at the bottom of the dip and began to make headway once again. Her progress proved to be relentless as she overhauled See The Fire and Shuwari close home to prevail by ½-length.

The form of the Fillies' Mile hasn't been tested in any meaningful way since then, but it represented a fair step in the right direction for Ylang Ylang.

Being by Frankel out of a Shamardal mare that stayed a mile-and-a-half as a three-year-old, she can very much be expected to have progressed over the winter. Mind, she will probably need to, as it could be argued that her bare form doesn't entitle her to be quite as short as she is.

Fallen Angel looks solidy but her odds are on the short side

The leading British-trained hope is the Karl Burke-trained Fallen Angel and she already has a verdict over Ylang Ylang in her bag, for all that it shouldn't be read too literally.

That win came in the Moyglare Stud Stakes on what was her fourth and last start of her two-year-old season. She was strongly challenged by a previous victim of Ylang Ylang in Vespertilio, but proved to be the strongest on the day by 1¼ lengths.

That was the culmination of the body of work characterised by run-to-run improvement. There will be strong hopes that Fallen Angel will be just as good, if not better, this season, but a cautionary note is that her dam didn't progress as hoped from two to three and her sire was not as dominant as a three-year-old as he had been as a juvenile.

Mind, those concerns are softened somewhat by Agnes Stewart's first few runners having all progressed well from two to three.

Like Ylang Ylang, Fallen Angel's form looks rock solid and actually ties in quite closely with her main market rival, but whether she should be quite so short with so many potential improvers in the field is open to debate.

Elmalka has plenty of scope to improve

Indeed, it is one of those potential improvers that I'm going to take a flier on in the shape of the Roger Varian-trained Elmalka.

She has a magnificent pedigree being by Kingman out of a two-time Group 1 winner in Nahrain that has already produced a multiple Group 1 winner in Benbatl.

She was aimed low for her debut in a fillies' maiden at Southwell in November, but was able to overcome greenness to show a sharp turn of foot and run out the ready winner.

Pitched in much deeper for her seasonal return in the Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury, Elmalka acquitted herself very well indeed. She again missed the kick by a few lengths, but was able to take a good position tracking the leaders.

It was all going smoothly and she looked to be winding up to deliver a challenge only for Hollie Doyle on Folgaria to appear on her outside and bar her path to the outside. This resulted in her getting locked in a pocket that she couldn't remove herself from until there was just 100 yards to race.

She tried, but it was just too much ground to make up in such a short strip of remaining ground and she finished a ½-length third on the day.

While the Fred Darling from looks to fall a fair way short of the strongest form on show in the 1,000 Guineas, the run from Elmalka was very encouraging for one so inexperienced and considering how well she shaped. She seems sure to improve not just from that run and experience, but also for the longer trip of the 1000 Guineas.

She is a very big price, 25/126.00, but she looks to have enough scope to improve to make those odds very interesting for those in search of one at a bigger price.

Back Elmalka, E/W 4 Places, in 1,000 Guineas @ 25/126.00

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