Thursday, April 26, 2012

A mile in May

By Stephen Dwyer

It is the youngest of the classics. 38 running’s of the St. Leger had taken place before the inaugural 1000 Guineas was held at Newmarket in 1814. Racing over a mile on the wide, galloping Rowley Mile Course , this year’s crop of elite 3yo fillies will meet on Sunday 6th May to earn the right to write themselves into history.

All of four centuries ago, King Charles II was a regular visitor to Newmarket. He would regularly ride Old Rowley, one of his favourite sporting horses on what is now called the July Course. Bothered by the problem of the sun getting in his eyes on this course, The King found a new stretch of turf. This became known as The Rowley Mile, the track on which the 1000 and 2000 Guineas are both run on each year.

Although restricted to fillies, the 1000 Guineas boasts the same prize money as the 2000 Guineas since 2001. Now an integral element of the 35-race British Champions' Series, the Qipco 1000 Guineas boasts a total prize fund of £350,000. It is an extremely competitive event and in recent years the results have been staggeringly close. In 2010 Special Duty was awarded the race in the stewards room when bumped in-running and beaten by a nose. Last year Blue Bunting won by 3/4 of a length,  Natagora won by 1/2 length in 2008, pulsating finishes are now the norm.

The 2012 renewal of the 1000 Guineas promises to be another exciting contest. Aidan O’ Brien bids to claim his second win in the classic with the current market leader, Maybe. Winner of the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Chesham Stakes both over 7f, Maybe steps up to a mile for the first time in the 1000 Guineas. By Galileo, the extra furlong should pose little difficulty for last year’s Champion 2yo filly and this exciting entry bids to extend her unbeaten sequence to six races. Maybe is out of Sumora, a Danehill mare, who is also a three parts sister to the 2011 Oaks winner Dancing Rain. Sumora was sold for 2.4 million Guineas to M.V Magnier of Coolmore and although Maybe is currently available at odds of 3/1 for the race, she is sure to go off shorter on the day.

Another interesting Irish runner is Lightening Pearl trained by County Meath-based Ger Lyons. Her target is the 1000 Guineas ever since she won the Cheveley Park Stakes over 6f on her final start as a juvenile. Although there are a questions over her stamina she has won over 7f and will certainly be quick enough.  Lightening Pearl only finished 2½ lengths behind Maybe in a Group 2 at the Curragh and at odds of 16/1 represents solid value.

Favourites have won three out of the last five renewals of the 1000 Guineas and Mahmood Al Zarooni who saddled Blue Bunting to victory last year bids to upset the chances of Ballydoyle. Al Zarooni trains Discourse, winner of the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket last August. Discourse ran on impressively under Frankie Dettori when justifying favouritism in the Sweet Solera Stakes over 7f but the form of that race has turned out to be very ordinary.  Clive Brittain’s Wahylah is the only runner who  who finished behind Discourse to subsequently win a race to date. Discourse also missed the remainder of her juvenile season with  an undisclosed injury and her pedigree suggests that she may be better over a longer trip.

It is worth noting that with three wins since 1998, Godolphin are the most successful winners of the 1000 Guineas in recent times. Another one of their runners, Lyric Of Light, enters the race with a live chance. Also trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, Lyric Of Light is another high class unbeaten filly. Despite a tendency to hang  in the final furlong of her races she won the Group 1 Shadwell Fillies' Mile at the end of last season.  Lyric Of Light never wins by much however, the distances that she has won her three races by are ¾ length, a neck and a head. She also holds an entry in the Oaks and is a filly that warrants closer inspection given her course and distance form and the records of her connections in the race in recent years.

As well as being the second classic of the season, the 1000 Guineas is the inaugural leg of the fillies’ Triple Crown. The fillies’ Triple Crown comprise of the 1000 Guineas, The Oaks and St Leger. Realistically not many fillies have a live chance of winning the triple crown this year and it is rare to achieve this. The  the last filly to win all three was Oh So Sharp in 1985.

Another interesting statistic to note on May 6th is that seven out of the last ten 1000 Guineas winners were trained in the UK and half of the last ten had won previously at Newmarket on their last race. Despite the Ballydoyle contingent looking particularly strong this year, Godolphin have made a good start to the season and are sure to go close. It has also been confirmed that both Lyric Of Light and Discourse will not have a preparatory run before the 1000 Guineas but there will be little doubt they will be fully tuned on the day.

The French too will not be without their say. They boast a good record in the race and without a doubt a filly to take serious note of is Jean-Claude Rouget's Mashoora. She was bought for 280,000gns at the 2010 Tattersalls yearling sales by Shadwell and is a full-sister to Lowther Stakes winner Silk Blossom. Mashoora won the Prix Imprudence  in eye catching style in April of this year. The Prix Imprudence is a major 1000 Guineas trial and the manner in which she won this race at Maisons-Laffitte  was imperious. Under a hands and heels ride from Christophe Soumillon  she was soon clear and heavily eased crossing the line. Travelling over to Newmarket she will have no fear of the challenge on offer.

Challenges then from all corners, little doubt that the quality and competitive nature of the 1000 Guineas allows it to be the centrepiece of a strong seven race card.

Very shortly there will be a new Queen of Newmarket, exciting times on The Rowley Mile.

Trivia Box:
Fastest winning time:    
Ghanaati (2009) in 1m 34.22s
 Widest winning margin:
20 lengths - Mayonaise (1859)
 Longest odds winner : 
50/1 - Ferry (1918)
 Shortest odds winner :
1/10 - Crucifix (1840)
 Most runners :                
29 - in 1926

Race Details: 1,000 Guineas run at Newmarket: Sunday 06 May 2012
Race Odds (correct as of April 17th)
Maybe 3/1f
Wading 7/1
Discourse 8/1
Lyric Of Light 8/1
Mashoora 9/1
La Collina 12/1
Lightening Pearl 16/1
20/1 bar

(article copyright Betview Magazine)

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