Newmarket Guineas Antepost Preview: Some big prices appeal in the Fillies' Classic

Newmarket racecourse
It's Guineas weekend at Newmarket this Saturday and Sunday

The first Classics of the season will be run at Newmarket over the weekend, and here to take an early look at both the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas is our resident tipster Tony Calvin...

The Qipco 2,000 Guineas has seen more hefty drop-outs than a nudist beach full of disrobing sunbathers, so it is perhaps only fitting that ante-post favourite Too Darn Hot heads the list of notable absentees, along with the other major Group 1-winning winter fancy Quorto.

Calyx, impressive winner of the Coventry, has declined the invitation and heads to Ascot on Wednesday instead, while connections of Persian King have also strangely decided to keep the recent Longchamp scorer at home in France.

Andre Fabre's colt would probably have been favourite if he had been given the green light.

Injury has also claimed the Greenham winner Mohaather in recent days, and the race now has a very winnable feel to it.

Lot to like about Magna in the 2,000, bar his price

Pin-pointing the winner from a sea of 24 largely unexposed five-day entries is the hard part, though.

The Ballydoyle pair of Magna Grecia and Ten Sovereigns head the market, with the former just shading favouritism, for the moment at least. But a lot can change late on, as last year's winner Saxion Warrior reportedly only blossomed in his work on the week of the race.

Stamina is the question mark for the Middle Park winner Ten Sovereigns as he goes beyond 6f for the first time, but that is no concern for Vertem Futurity scorer Magna Grecia.

The only blot on his dance card was a defeat to the aforementioned Persian King on fast ground over course and distance - the French colt's no-show here is very puzzling - and there is a lot to like about him, bar his price, which looks a bit skinny now.

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Money for Madhmon while Haggas could have a good'un

The movers in the market, into single figures, over the past week or so have been Madhmoon and Advertise.

Madhmoon was beaten by a second-tier Aidan O'Brien horse in Never No More on his comeback at Leopardstown, though he was carrying a 3lb penalty there and the soft ground may not have suited.

He has to be given a serious chance on his fast-ground defeat of Broome, just chinned by Royal Marine in the Lagardere and an 8-length winner of the Ballysax on his return, over a mile at Leopardstown last season.

I loved his trainer's comments after that win - "He will keep getting me out of bed over the winter" - and he makes more appeal than the Dewhurst runner-up Advertise at the current prices. I can fully see why the money arrived for the Irish colt.

Talking of cash, there was plenty of it around for Skardu before his head defeat of Momkin in the Craven, suggesting that his trainer's comments that he had left a fair bit to work on maybe have to be taken with a tiny pinch of salt.

It was a very good effort from a horse having his second run though, given he had to make his ground from the rear, and William Haggas could have a good one on his hands. Mind you, plenty will fancy the fourth, Royal Marine, to turn the form around given his, shall we say, rather eye-catching run in behind.

A race I can leave alone for now

The other horse we should mention is Godolphin's unbeaten Al Hilalee (in the same ownership of Persian King), who was supplemented for this race on Monday after apparently impressing in a gallop at Meydan last week.

But this is a race that I can leave alone until I see the final field on Thursday, though I would be leaning towards Madhmoon at the moment, even if his price has been ebbing away. There is an outsider I have got my eye on if he is confirmed, but we can revisit that on Friday.

Before we touch on the 1,000 Guineas, I should mention the ground.

It is currently good to firm at Newmarket and the forecast looks dry as a bone, which is why they watered on Sunday (12mm) and doubtless will again before the weekend if nature doesn't intervene.

Qabala the correct favourite but a few at bigger-prices catch the eye

I admit to having a small 1,000 Guineas tickle at 8s on Qabala after her Nell Gwyn win, as she was powering away at the finish of that 7f trip and this extra furlong looks sure to suit.

Again, I'm not sure that I buy into the fact that she wasn't pretty straight there. The money flooded in for her before the race, which suggested she would not lack for fitness - Roger Varian said she was still wintry in her coat - and that was in stark contrast to the market weakness of her stablemate and runner-up Mot Juste.

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I have no problems with Qabala being favourite, but 3/1 looks a touch skinny to me, and looking back at the Newmarket race I struggle with Angel's Hideaway being 10 times her price on the exchange.

Now, I fully appreciate that her stamina is far from assured (as well as her having the relevant class) but things went badly for her at Newmarket - she played up in the stalls, blew the start and had to make her challenge on the wide outside - and I wouldn't be laying her at half the price she is currently on the exchange.

She is firmly in my sights for Saturday's tipping column, as is Iridessa at around 9/1.

Like Madhmoon, Iridessa didn't sparkle behind Lady Kaya over 7f on soft at Leopardstown on her return. But that race has proved a good trial for this Classic in recent years, and that actually led me to back the runner-up, Happen, for this contest at 40+ on the exchange.

I was gutted when she was taken out last week - I suppose she must have had a setback, and the price probably should have raised an eyebrow, come to think of it - but Iridessa shaped okay there, too.

She returns to the track, trip and ground of her Fillies' Mile defeat of Hermosa, and I think she could be very hard to kick out of the frame.

But, again, let's see what the final field brings us.

Apologies if the introduction conjured up some nasty images, by the way.


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