Horse Racing Tips

Timeform 1000 Guineas Preview: Skitter can scatter her rivals

Newmarket stages the first fillies' classic, the 1000 Guineas, on Sunday
Newmarket stages the first fillies' classic, the 1000 Guineas, on Sunday

"...she improved all season in the hands of Patrick Prendergast and wound up completing a hat-trick of group-race wins..."

Timeform on Skitter Scatter

Timeform preview Sunday's 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and pick out their best bet.

Unlike the 2000 Guineas which has lost several of its main contenders over recent weeks and months, most of the fillies who have been prominent in the 1000 Guineas betting over the winter remain among the sixteen still entered at the five-day stage. Another big difference between the two classics is that the 2000 betting had a red-hot ante-post favourite in the now-absent Too Darn Hot, whereas until recently no clear leader had emerged among the fillies in the 1000 betting.

All that changed two weeks ago after the once-raced Qabala shot to favouritism after winning the Nell Gwyn Stakes in which late support made her favourite that day too. The Nell Gwyn was run at just an ordinary pace, so Qabala did well to come from where she did after a slow start, making up plenty of ground in the last quarter-mile to lead in the final furlong. Qabala had won a maiden over the same seven furlongs on her only previous start and the way she finished last time suggests another furlong won't be a problem. She'll also be among the least-exposed in the field, but will need to improve again to become a second classic winner for Roger Varian.

The bare form of the Nell Gwyn is nothing special and it will be a surprise if one of the beaten fillies can turn the tables on Qabala, though last year's fourth in the Nell Gwyn Billesdon Brook went on to win the 1000 Guineas at odds of 66/1. Mot Juste, Angel's Hideaway and Look Around filled the frame in the Nell Gwyn, the first two of those having also finished one-two in last year's Oh So Sharp Stakes. Angel's Hideaway has had plenty of chances, but Qabala's stable-companion Mot Juste is open to more improvement stepping up to a mile for the first time.

The other main trial, Newbury's Fred Darling Stakes which was run on soft ground, went to Dandhu by a short head from Iconic Choice, with Star Terms less than a length away in fourth. All three would need to improve to make any impact, while the winner might struggle to confirm that form with the other two who over this extra furlong.

Qabala makes the most appeal of those who've contested the main trials in Britain, but it's often top two-year-old form that counts most in the 1000 Guineas. Aidan O'Brien has four entries, all with group-winning form at two, with Fairyland just about the best of them on what she showed last year, winning the Lowther and Cheveley Park Stakes in close finishes. However, she has raced only over six furlongs, and everything about her, pedigree and looks included, suggest she's a sprinter. Just Wonderful has bits of form that would make her a leading contender, notably her beating of Dandhu in decisive fashion in the Rockfel Stakes, but her overall profile isn't that convincing for a potential classic winner. Hermosa was second in the Fillies' Mile but she's bred to be suited by middle distances this year and looks more likely to go for the Pretty Polly Stakes later on the same card instead. Fleeting completes the Ballydoyle quartet and is still something of an unknown quantity, finishing only third to Just Wonderful in a Group 3 at the Curragh before going off at 12/1 when coming from last to first to beat Star Terms in the May Hill Stakes at Doncaster, looking more of an Oaks filly.

The Oaks also looks a more likely classic than the 1000 Guineas for Joseph O'Brien's Iridessa, though she could easily run a big trial for Epsom back at the scene of her biggest win. By Derby winner Ruler of The World, she stayed on well under a patient ride when beating Hermosa a length and a half in the Fillies' Mile here in October. Iridessa has also had a prep run this year when she shaped better than the bare result, caught wide over an inadequate seven furlongs, in the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown.

Between them, the O'Briens senior and junior had no fewer than eight of the field in the Leopardstown race but none of their fillies proved a match for the Sheila Lavery-trained Lady Kaya who was a ready winner having had everything else off the bridle turning for home. By sprinter Dandy Man, she's not certain to be as effective over a mile, but there's encouragement from her dam in that regard, and she's the type who could be overpriced for a smaller yard.

Besides advertising her own Guineas claims at Leopardstown, Lady Kaya paid a compliment to the filly who beat her in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh last September. Skitter Scatter had already been out twice by this time last year, but she improved all season in the hands of Patrick Prendergast and wound up completing a hat-trick of group-race wins. She had already had Lady Kaya, Iridessa and Hermosa behind her in the Debutante Stakes over the same course and distance, and accounted for Hermosa again, with Just Wonderful further back, when giving a two-length beating to Lady Kaya in the Moyglare. Those efforts are some of the best form on offer in Sunday's line-up when Skitter Scatter will be making her first start since John Oxx took over the Prendergast string.

Antonia de Vega looked promising when following in the footsteps of Billesdon Brook by winning last year's Prestige Stakes at Goodwood, but she has a bit to prove after sustaining an injury when last in the Fillies' Mile, while this looks a very stiff task for Garrel Glen who lost her maiden status in a very ordinary race by Newmarket standards on her last start in October.

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