Classic Clues …

April 23rd, 2018 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there,

The main trials for the Newmarket Classics were run last week, with perhaps more negative than positive clues emerging from them.

It has all been about Charlie Appleby in the opening weeks of the season – with Godolphin’s other main trainer Saeed bin Suroor playing a secondary role these days.

Soliloquy ran to a mark of about 110 in beating the 105-rated Altyn Orda in the Nell Gwyn Stakes. The daughter of Dubawi had run twice last season, winning an Ascot novice stakes on her second start when she beat Sheikha Reika, who went on to win a maiden in good style last week. With Lubinka, a winner at Lingfield earlier this month, in third that is beginning to look like a very good race.

The trainer said afterwards they were “confident” coming into the race even though the filly is not in the Guineas. Now priced at a top price of 10/1 I expect her to be supplemented for Newmarket.

The fillies were out again in the Dubai Duty Free on Saturday at Newbury, where Bath winner Dan’s Dream ran to a mark of about 105 in beating Richard Hannon’s Tajaanus. This didn’t strike me as potential Classic-winning form, with the winner out of a Royal Applause mare and far from certain to stay a mile.

The most impressive winner of a trial I’ve seen this season was Masar, who strode away to win the Craven Stakes by nine lengths. I accept that Roaring Lion probably ran below form – he was just edged out for second by White Mocha, who is rated 19lb inferior – but even so it takes something rather special to win any Classic trial by such a wide margin.

The time was comfortably the quickest of the three races run over the Rowley Mile that day and afterwards Charlie Appleby said, again, that he had been “confident” beforehand that the colt would either win or finish a good second to the favourite.

Last season Masar ran five times, landing a novice stakes on his Goodwood debut before running third to September at Royal Ascot. He then won the Solario Stakes at Sandown before finishing third to Happily in the Prix Jean-Lagardere and sixth to Mendelssohn in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar.

His poor run at Meydan in March was excused on the grounds that it was intended to “take the gas out of him”.

Masar is bred for the mile and should probably, on this evidence, be clear favourite to win the Guineas.

As for Roaring Lion he is becoming hard to warm to. He hung in all his races last season and at Newmarket last week never seemed at ease with himself. He will improve for the run – John Gosden said he was only 80 per cent fit – but he may need everything to fall right.

The Greenham Stakes at Newbury failed to impress. The portents were unfavourable for Expert Eye in the morning, with a marked drift in the betting. He never travelled or quickened as he had done at Goodwood last year although Sir Michael Stoute seemed fairly relaxed about the performance afterwards, expressing satisfaction that the colt behaved himself in the preliminaries and stalls.

It appears that Expert Eye is not reproducing the high quality of form he can display at home. Connections will make up their mind about the Guineas in a few days.

The winner James Garfield is a thoroughly likeable colt. The son of Exceed And Excel finished a couple of lengths behind Masar at Del Mar last season after not getting a clear run. In my view there is probably not that much between the two colts, but the colt that most impressed me in the Greenham was Raid.

David Simcock’s son of Havana Gold is bred to stay beyond a mile – perhaps even a mile and a half – so it was no surprise to see him doing such strong late work. I expect him to prove the pick of this field by the time he is racing over a longer trip.

Elsewhere at Newbury on Saturday it was frustrating to see Adamant just fail to get up in the closing 1m 2f handicap.

My news was that this lightly-raced son of Dalakhani was the most fancied of Sir Michael Stoute’s runners last week but it looked as if Ryan Moore was a little surprised at how well the horse picked up after seemingly held a quarter of a mile out.

Unfortunately the horse will be raised two or three pounds for this, but he is just the sort of horse Sir Michael excels with and a good handicap will come his way.

As for Gustav Klimt – my long-term selection for the 2,000 Guineas in the Dark Horses Annual – he did everything I expected of him at Leopardstown. He is a very tough colt with a turn of foot on better ground, but at 5/2 he is now short enough.

Bye for now