Great Scot! We have a bet in the 2000 Guineas
Every year the phrase "surprisingly weak renewal" is trotted out, perhaps unfairly, for the 2000 Guineas. This year the term is merited.
Too Darn Hot, long-time antepost favourite, is a non-runner having been discovered to have heat in his leg. He was obviously the correct favourite although my instinct is his relative lack of tactical pace means he could yet be best over 10f. A strong pace though there always is, I think people forget just how much of a premium is placed on quickening speed on this undulating course.
Of those that remain the question mark is predominantly the trip. Favourite Ten Sovereigns is almost certainly the most talented horse in the field, Calyx a close second, yet the strengths of each were their travelling and quickening speed over 6-furlongs. They are unlikely to be able to replicate that level of ability over a strongly run mile with their stamina ebbing away late, speed favouring though this track is.
Magna Grecia, the O'Brien second string, has trip concerns of his own albeit at the other end of the scale. He needed every yard of a furiously run, galloping mile at Doncaster to narrowly get the better of a patchy looking Group 1. I wasn't entirely unimpressed by that performance but it was with a view toward middle-distance trips. He will be found lacking under these conditions.
Similar trip concerns can be applied to Mohaather - whose tactical speed won him the day in the Greenham over 7f at Newbury - and Advertise, whose form is arguably strongest of anyone, but who was a forward 2-year-old unlikely to find himself hitting new levels over a mile now at three.
Skardu and Royal Marine represent the same form-line and the former should arguably be a shorter price. He travelled well through the Craven Stakes, quickened smartly and kept on well to out-battle Momkin. He's probably limited in ability terms but handles the track, finds himself with ideal conditions and an ideal preparation.
I can see the argument that he should be close to favouritism for all it really would be a poor renewal if he were good enough to win. Royal Marine was favourite for the Craven, and didn't disgrace himself in fourth, but he looked slightly less suited by the track being outpaced and rolling late down the outside. He looks a 10f horse in the making.
My selection at this stage is Great Scot from the Tom Dascombe yard. He was second behind Mothaather in the Greenham, unable to match the winner for tactical speed, but keeping on powerfully late in the day. He was running over a mile as a two-year-old, so would have found that trip sharp enough on reappearance and he'll improve for the extra furlong, and the likely strong pace.
The clock performance of the Greenham came out well compared to the other races on the card too as a nice bonus to the form, too. Again, it would have to be a weak renewal for him to get his head in front but that probably is the case and 66/1 is a definitely too big in a renewal this open. Avail yourself of it.
1000 Guineas always a tricky antepost market and this year is no different
I have distinctly less to say about the 1000 Guineas. I've always found it to be a particularly tricky race to find an angle into. Fillies seem to have a particular penchant to change, both physically and mentally, after their juvenile season and the unknowns make for a poor betting medium.
Qabala is the understandable favourite having won the Nell Gywn easily. The clock suggests that race was of questionable merit but you couldn't help being taken by how easily she won. She won in spite of a steady enough pace and shaped like she'd improve further for an extra furlong. She's clearly got a solid chance.
Aidan O'Brien is definitely slightly lighter on forward three-year-olds than usual this season, something that is no surprise given the profiles of many of them as juveniles. I wouldn't suggest that he doesn't have his usual firepower simply that his best types look to be slightly backward, middle-distance types. There are several in here. Fairyland isn't one such horse indeed the worry with her is that this trip will be too far. She was an early maturing type, prolific throughout her 2-year-old season but, whilst she shaped like she'd get 7f, the mile is a concern.
Of the others the John Oxx/Paddy Prendergast trained Skitter Scatter is of most interest. She began her career beating Sergei Prokofiev over the minimum trip yet shaped in her final juvenile start like a mile, or even further, would see her to best effect. That's arguably the best form on offer and she'd probably be my selection at this stage if I was forced.
That said, when you're backing antepost you need to ask yourself "what am I getting now that I won't get on the day" and the answer to that question in relation to Skitter Scatter isn't obvious. She won't run between now and then and there's nothing lurking to suggest that she'll be particularly well supported. I think she'll be a similar price on the day and, assuming she is, then you'd be wiser to back her then.
Follow Will on Twitter @StopwatchRacing