Sunday, 4 May 2008

1000 Guineas

Following on from my Grand National and Scottish Grand National pieces for Texperts, here's something I just put together for the 1000 Guineas tomorrow. I'd wanted to do something for the 2000 Guneas but I didn't get time.

Sunday May 4th (may the fourth be with you!) sees the 195th running of the 1,000 Guineas Stakes, the second classic of the season and the first leg of the Fillies' Triple Crown. Natagora (right) is the hot favourite for the race.

Looking at the recent trends, it’s difficult to pick up on much. Kieren Fallon has ridden four winners in the last eleven races, but he doesn’t have a ride this time out. No other jockeys have any real form in this race and similarly, there are no real trainers to watch. Saeed Bin Suroor has trained two winners in the last decade, but we’re talking 2002 and 1998, while John Dunlop has trained three 1000 Guineas winners, but we have to go back to 1980 for the first of them and 1990 and 1991 for the other two. Frankie Dettori was on board both the Saeed Bin Suroor trained horses, as ever and so their entry Laureldean Gale seems the obvious starting point. I would love to pick her and for her to win, chalking up another victory for the trends, but I just can’t see it. As impressive as she was on debut, last time out she made a right old hash of it and was 8th of 10, notably behind Savethisdanceforme who also runs tomorrow.

The only trend of note is the SP of the winners in recent years. Six of the last ten winners, in fact six of the last eight winners, have returned between 10/1 and 14/1 and last year’s 5/4 favourite was a class act, running the race in a record breaking
time. So last year’s one-off aside, recent history suggests avoiding the shorter price horses and picking something from the middle of the market. The two obvious ones to consider based on that then, are the Aidan O’Brien trained pair Savethisdanceforme (best price 11/1 at the time of writing) and Kitty Matcham (BP 12/1).

As it happens, both of these fillies look open to improvement. Savethisdanceforme notched a 4th place in a Group 1 race and was narrowly beaten into 2nd place on heavy ground, over 8 furlongs at the Curragh. On that, she seems a capable sort and her stamina is proven. Interestingly though, the vastly experienced and talented Johnny Murtagh, who had first pick of the two, chose Kitty Matcham. On bare form, the filly looks like she might have a bit to find, but her breeding is very impressive (her mother was pretty useful over 8f and she’s sired by Rock Of Gibraltar) and Murtagh is a massive positive, especially given his awesome ride on Henrythenavigator in yesterday’s 2000 Guineas and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him complete a double.

Murtagh’s stats are impressive. The trainer and jockey combination has landed 27% of races in the last 12 months and for 2008 so far, they have a 28.57% strike rate - 7 rides, 2 wins and 2 places. If you’d had £1 on all of Murtagh’s rides in the past year, you’d be £88.80 better off and if you’d followed him for the last 12 months at Newmarket only, you’d still be £31.37 to the good (at a respectable strike rate of 18.75%).

I simply can’t get on with any of the horses with bigger prices than Laureldean Gale and although I’m ruling them out for the win, I’m by no means suggesting there’s nothing in there that could run a place. Max One Two Three could land the each way thieves a few bob, for example, but I’m trying to pick a winner!

So let’s look at the shorter priced fancies. As I mentioned earlier, John Dunlop has trained a few 1000 Guineas winners in his time, but his charge tomorrow faces a very late fitness check after finding her sore on Friday morning and she’s not exactly been injury free during the last twelve months. They’re going to leave it as late as possible but the trainer has said that both he and the owner are “anxious to run her if [they] possibly can”, which doesn’t fill me with confidence. If they’re going to run her at less than 100%, she’s not going to win and so is best avoided.

Spacious looks a threat under current co-champion jockey Jamie Spencer. The trainer and jockey enjoyed a couple of good results at Ascot the other day and they may be finding some form. If you’d followed them as a pairing from the start of the year, you’d have won 26.09% of your bets, but you’d only be £3.05 better off, backing each runner at a £1 stake. She won’t mind the softer ground should it rain overnight and will be more than capable on the good ground that we saw yesterday. A leading candidate, but the major downside to this one is that she hasn’t run for 234 days and may be a shade rusty.

Infallible is the main rival to the favourite, winning the Nell Gwyn (a well respected 1000 Guineas trial) but the time wasn’t particularly spectacular and only two horses since 1990 have won that race and gone on to win the 1000 Guineas in the same year, so I don’t read too much into that. Must also be noted that she’s only raced twice and inexperience might be an issue. That said, if anyone can keep her under control, Jimmy Fortune can. He boasts a 33.33% strike rate at Newmarket since the turn of the year plus his rides have returned a £30.60 profit (£1 level stakes).

The favourite Natagora looks a really exciting prospect and probably deserves her status as favourite. Coupled with a jockey boasting a 42.86% (28 rides) strike rate on turf since the turn of the year, she’s looking a difficult one to beat. There are however some serious doubts about whether she will last the 8 furlongs. Noone doubts her sprint credentials and she won well last time out over 7f, on heavy ground, but will she last the 8? I think the doubts over the trip alone mean it’s worth opposing her at 3/1 (at the time of writing) but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see her win!

So then, time to stick my neck on the line. Here’s my 1-2: Kitty Matcham followed by Natagora.

Best of luck to anyone having a punt and don’t blame me if you lose!

15:20 Newmarket
Kitty Matcham
1.5 pts e/w

1 comment:

TheHat said...

Sweet post. I'll be on Natagora. GL.