Marten’s Perspective: The Cloudy Classic Picture
April 21st, 2015 | Marten's Perspective
For example, Gleneagles is now as short as 6/4 for the 2,000 Guineas despite not having run this season. The same comment applies to stable-companion Highland Reel, who is an 8/1 shot, with Greenham Stakes runner-up Estidhkaar the subject of support following his promising effort at the weekend.
Elm Park is biggest at 12/1 with Ladbrokes, despite failing to impress in a pubic gallop after racing at Newbury on Friday, while Dermot Weld’s impressive Leopardstown winner Zawraq is unlikely to run at Newmarket. Ivawood, who in my view is uncertain to stay a mile, has over four lengths to find with stable-companion Estidhkaar while there has not been any news from Ballydoyle about Ol’ Man River.
Hamdam Al Maktoum, who owns Estidhkaar, also has Greenham winner Muhaarar and Intilaaq. Charlie Hills has hinted that Muhaarar is more likely to run in France while Intilaaq, who beat a well-regarded colt in Keble by eight lengths, recorded a very fast time. He would be the most interesting of the less-exposed colts if this were his chosen route.
Charlie Hills, who has a line to the Greenham form through the winner, has Dutch Connection to call upon while Kool Kompany prefers to dominate, which won’t be easy in the Guineas.
Looking ahead to the Derby it is hard to defend the poor run of John F Kennedy in the Ballysax Stakes. Afterwards Aidan O’Brien said the colt would not have enjoyed the soft to heavy ground, and the yard is now in better form, but the colt’s high head carriage is an added cause for concern.
Horses trained in Ballydoyle dominate the Epsom market, with Ol’ Man River, Highland Reel, Sir Isaac Newton and Giovanni Canaletto valid contenders. Of these I like Highland Reel, who is expected to run in the Guineas, and Giovanni Canaletto, who was most impressive when winning a maiden at Leopardstown last October by a wide margin. Highland Reel is bred to stay the trip but will need to settle better than he did last year.
The obvious Derby contender away from Ballydoyle is Zawraq, who is closely related to useful performers at trips up to a mile and a quarter. The son of Shamardal is quite a lazy sort, so there is every chance he will stay the Derby trip. At around 8/1 he would probably qualify as the best opportunity at this stage for those keen to have a bet.
Elm Park is not as certain to stay as some have made out. Having said that, he is related to hurdlers and runs as if he will. Of the others, Golden Horn and Intilaaq are interesting – with the latter not cast-iron to get the mile and a half.
The 1,000 Guineas betting is also headed by a horse that has not raced this spring. Found impressed both with her attitude and talent last season and it is right that she stands as 5/2 favourite. Next is stable-companion Together Forever, who has also not yet appeared, while there has been recent interest in Jim Bolger’s Lucida, who couldn’t handle the soft ground behind Together Forever in the Fillies’ Mile.
Barry Hills would have been pleased with the way Fadhayyil worked at Newmarket and the Aga Khan’s Ervedya impressed when winning on her return at Maisons-Laffitte. Jellicle Ball will be backed to reverse Fred Darling form with Redstart, with the extra furlong expected to suit her. Malabar needs watching given how unlucky she was against Found in France last autumn.
Others to keep tabs on are Agnes Stewart and Sir Michael Stoute’s Sympathy.
Words has been my long-term selection for the Oaks, although she stands at 16/1 against stable-companion Found, who is a top price of 4/1. For me Words has the stouter pedigree. John Gosden holds a strong hand with Newbury winner Star Of Seville, who will run next in an Oaks trial, and the aforementioned Jellicle Ball.
Last weekend’s maiden winner Fluff could be anything, while both Malabar and Agnes Stewart are bred to stay the trip.
I am reluctant to offer firm guidance at this stage – my final thoughts will be in next week’s Online Preview – but it would not surprise me if one of the Classics were won by something from ‘left field’.
The market movements in the next few days, as horses do their final piece of work, are likely to be extremely interesting.
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