Newmarket Reflections

May 3rd, 2016 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

All winter I was thinking and telling people that of Aidan O’Brien’s favourite for the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, I preferred the chance of Minding to Air Force Blue, despite the former being available to back until relatively recently at around 11/4 as opposed to the colt’s even-money.

Yet for some reason I did not follow my own advice – not even a saver – as I became distracted by the chances of longer-priced options. I am not the first person to avoid the obvious, but then despite being right to oppose the favourite in the 2,000 Guineas I still didn’t back the winner Galileo Gold.

The horse I was keen on through the winter for the 2,000 Guineas was Blue De Vega, who was left in the race at the five-day stage but then withdrawn at declaration time because the trainer felt the colt needed more time. It was therefore a surprise to see him running at the Curragh yesterday – albeit in a 7f Listed contest rather than a Classic.

The race could turn out to have quite a bearing on the next few weeks, as the winner Awtad is highly regarded by Kevin Prendergast with the Irish 2,000 Guineas as his next target. Time may show that Blue De Vega ran very well, staying on strongly over this inadequate seven furlongs trying to concede the winner 3lb. I have long suggested that Blue De Vega is bred for middle distances, so this was a very good effort over just seven furlongs.

I am fairly confident that Blue De Vega will reverse form with the winner at level weights over a mile and that the 10/1 currently available for the Irish Guineas is fair each-way value if we knew he was a likely runner. Having had a torrid time with my handful of ante-post bets in the last few months I am wary of stepping in again, even though I retain my faith in this colt’s talent.

Looking at the market for the Irish 2,000 Guineas, I expect the connections of Galileo Gold to favour a crack at the Derby. Trainer Hugo Palmer is going to run the colt through a genetic speed gene test to see what that suggests, but Frankie Dettori seems keen to go for Epsom and that is sure to count for something.

I don’t think anyone should back Air Force Blue until more is known about his wellbeing. Unfortunately I was not at Newmarket to see the colt in the paddock, but to my eyes he never looked happy in the race and the market vibes beforehand – and the fitting on a tongue-tie – suggested misgivings of some sort. I am not privy to anything from the yard, but I indicated beforehand that something seemed to be amiss, perhaps related to the colt’s tendency to hang on occasions last season.

O’Brien has a host of other colts to call upon, including Hit It A Bomb, so the picture is far from clear.

I am surprised to learn that Guineas runner-up Massaat is more likely to go for the Derby. His dam is by Acclamation and although he is one paced and runs like a galloper he is not bred to stay the trip.

For me the Tetrarch form looks very solid and having missed Newmarket I assume the Irish Guineas is the main target for Blue De Vega. At 10/1 he would make great appeal if confirmed for the race.

Looking elsewhere at Newmarket I expect Folkswood to be earning black type before too long. The son of Exceed And Excel comfortably won this traditionally competitive 1m handicap by two and three-quarter lengths having shown very good form on the home gallops. His mark will rise from 89 to the mid to high 90s and there is enough stamina on his distaff side for him to get a mile and a quarter, perhaps further.


Bye for now