6/4-favourite Churchill winning yesterday’s 2000 Guineas was a bit of a slap in the face and suddenly reasons to take on his stablemate Rhododendron in today’s 1000 Guineas are weak.
She isn’t Churchill, though, and she’s been beaten twice already in five starts so lacks a shade of his star quality.
She is obviously another of the Galileo family, who have farmed these Classic races in Britain and Ireland for a long time now, with Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore operation chief beneficiaries.
Rhododendron’s standout piece of form was beating stablemate Hydrangea and Urban Fox in last season’s Fillies’ Mile over course and distance.
She really stepped her form up a notch that day and hammered all bar Hydrangea, who was two or so lengths behind and well clear of third.
That was her first try at a mile so it’s not difficult to see where the improvement came from, and she’s very difficult to oppose with the presumption she’ll be in similar form despite no prep race for this.
Stablemates Hydrangea (1st) and Winter (2nd) contested a trial in Ireland recently and do arrive with the benefit of a prep, and while we know all about the former, the latter has been well backed since and the market seems to favour her more.
O’Brien could feasibly train the 1-2-3 in this race for a second year running so the big price about Hydrangea (14/1) looks each-way value, however stable jockey Ryan Moore rarely gets his decision wrong in these races and I can’t see either beating the favourite home.
It’s hard to gauge the value but SkyBet effectively lay odds of around 60/1 via two 100/1+ tricasts that O’Brien trains the 1-2-3 for each of the following eventualities:
I can really see either happening so, speculatively, I’m backing both with 0.25pts.
If Rhododendron’s form-lines are to come up short then I have to say the Nell Gwyn Stakes trial form looks strong this year – while the form doesn’t tie in with the favourite’s to leave them somewhat unexposed.
That trial was won by a 12/1 shot in Daban for Dettori and Gosden, and she’s now 7/1 third favourite and unbeaten.
Keen early on, she eventually settled before landing the race a shade cosily from Hugo Palmer’s Unforgettable Filly with a nice turn of foot.
I like both of their chances given there were some good horses beaten in behind.
Andre Fabre had sent over Pamplemousse from France who finished fourth – and he very rarely sends a bad one to Newmarket – whilst the third, Poet’s Vanity, had strong two-year-old form having been beaten by subsequent Group One winner Wuheida on debut before notching two nice wins including a Group Three at Newmarket.
Further back was Group One winner Brave Anna for Aidan O’Brien and dual-Group winner Roly Poly for the same yard.
There’s plenty of substance to that form, then, so perhaps the winner and second aren’t getting the attention they deserve.
If it were a match you’d have to back Unforgettable Filly at 25/1 versus Daban’s 7/1 quote, given both will improve for the run and less than a length separated them.
It’s a difficult call that could easily land egg on my face, but I’ve been taken by Palmer’s comments both directly after the Nell Gwyn and in the run up to this race.
Initially he confidently said “she’ll tighten up for that and you should see a different filly on Guineas day” whilst he’s had this to say on the eve of the big one:
“I think Unforgetable Filly will improve hugely from the Nell Gwyn, where she was beaten only half a length by Daban.
“She’s come on a ton from that and looks fantastic, so I can’t quite get my head around how Daban can be 5/1 second favourite and she’s 25/1 – I think she’s massively overpriced on that basis, and she is crying out for a mile.
“The ground has also come in her favour – it simply cannot be fast enough for her – and she can have no excuses with the draw, so I think she’s primed to run a very big race.”
It’s interesting he expects the mile to bring out improvement given her pedigree is all sprinter, but she wasn’t stopping last time out and he knows better than I do.
SkyBet offer four places 1/5 odds and 25/1, which, whist speculative, I think looks pretty good.
Recommended 1000 Guineas bets:
0.5pt each-way Unforgettable Filly @25/1, 15:35 Newmarket, Sunday (SkyBet)
0.25pt tricast: 1st Rhododendron, 2nd Winter, 3rd Hydrandgea with SkyBet (around 110/1)
0.25pt tricast: 1st Rhododendron, 2nd Hydrangea, 3rd Winter with SkyBet (around 125/1)