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05/05/2012 – 2000 Guineas/Kentucky Derby/SA Derby/Hollindale Stakes Previews

May 5, 2012

The first weekend after the Sydney autumn carnival – and yet we still have Group 1 action! I’m writing this from London, where I’m spending some great quality time with my dad. He’s flown over from Singapore, so I’m enjoying it immensely – even though I’ll see him in 10 days when I go to the Singapore Airlines International Cup!

I’ve decided to have a look at five different races around the place today, including two international features. I’ll be writing about the Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville, the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) from the Gold Coast and the Listed Rowley Mile (1600m) from Hawkesbury, while I’ll be focusing on the 2000 Guineas from Newmarket here in the United Kingdom and the Kentucky Derby across the Atlantic in the United States.

I’ll also have a quick look at other highlights on those respective cards.

Here’s my look at a bumper Saturday of racing worldwide:

MORPHETTVILLE

Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m)

The South Australian Derby is always a fascinating race – but not always because of the talent that lines up. In fact, it is sometimes the lack of depth that makes it so intriguing. It occasionally throws up a Cups horse – Mummify won the Caulfield Cup in 2003 following victory in this race – but many years the form fails to stack up. It will be interesting to see what happens this year.

STRIKE THE STARS comes into the race with the best form. At his most recent start he finished fourth toEthiopiain the Australian Derby, while his only run in the anti-clockwise direction produced a brilliant second to Mosheen in the Australian Guineas. I think, now he’s had the run at 2400m, he’s the one to beat. In fact, I’d be very surprised if he missed a place. The only horse I can see beating him is TOHUNGA. This son of Zabeel, out of the former top Kiwi mare Justa Tad, is trained by the very much in-form Gai Waterhouse. He’s only coming out of a benchmark 65 at Kembla Grange but he has plenty of scope and is a stayer of the future. Another son of Zabeel, ZABEELIONAIRE, has promised much but has not delivered. He may have won two of his last three but he’s still been grossly disappointing this campaign. If he runs up to his spring form, he’d be going very close but I’m still wary on his current form. For fourth, I don’t really want to offer a tip but I’ll throw in NICONOISE who is at huge odds (fairly) but has shown enough promise at times to suggest he could run a race.

1 – STRIKE THE STARS
17 – TOHUNGA
3 – ZABEELIONAIRE
12 – NICONOISE

Also on the card…

The New Boy has been going well this preparation without winning and looks like he should win the Listed Adelaide Guineas (1600m). One time Newmarket Handicap fancy Decircles resumes in the Peter Elberg Funerals Handicap (1100m).

GOLD COAST

Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m)

This weight for age feature looks a little bit below the class offered up in the last couple of years, nevertheless it looks a competitive affair. As has been the case with much of our weight for age racing over the last 12 months, I think the imports look to have it here. But I’m not going with the favoured import. I think FORETELLER has been good at his two runs this preparation. He’s been looking for this distance and he’s ready to peak third up. He looks the one for me. MAWINGO was very good at Flemington at his Australian debut. He has a lot of scope based on his European form and he looks like he’ll be a contender in the big races come the spring. They will be hoping he wins here to qualify him for the Caulfield Cup. Based on the amount of money that has come for him, you’d think he’ll be going close. SHEZ SINSATIONAL, who was just beaten in last year’s Queensland Derby, has been in great form this season in New Zealand – winning races like the Zabeel Classic and the New Zealand Stakes at weight for age over 2000m, as well as the Auckland Cup, a handicap over 3200m. She was electric first up and if she brings that form to Queensland she’ll be hard to beat. And for fourth, go the old timer SCENIC SHOT, who rocketed home behind Ginga Dude in an on pace dominated race two weeks ago. He looks on track for a big performance in the Doomben Cup in two weeks time.

9 – FORETELLER
12 – MAWINGO
13 – SHEZ SINSATIONAL
1- SCENIC SHOT

Also on the card…

The Group 3 Gold Coast Guineas (1200m) is a feature every year, with a number of horses going on to bigger and better things. Winners include Eremein and Kings Chapel (when the race was over 1400m), as well as Fashions Afield, Gold Edition, El Cambio, Chakvetadze and Military Rose. It seems established form is the way to go for this race. Therefore, I’ll be having something on Florentina, who matched it with the best fillies in Sydney during the spring. I also hope to see Didntcostalot run well for his connections.

The Listed Prime Minister’s Cup (1300m) is the first chance for potential Stradbroke lightweights to reveal their hand. I’m expecting this race to be perfect for the local Fillydelphia, who I think is more a sprinter-miler than a 2000m type. Metallurgical is the other one who looks at big odds.

The Listed Gold Coast Bracelet (1800m) promises to reveal more about the Queensland Oaks, with most fillies heading to the Doomben Roses in two weeks. To my eye, it looks a two horse race between Miss Artistic, the NZ Oaks winner, and the emerging Pretty Pins. I’d be having something on Pretty Pins, who looks a very nice horse in the making. You’ll be hearing more about her in the coming months.

The Listed Silk Stocking (1200m) for the fillies and mares is a competitive event, if not overly classy. Beethog has won on this day the last two years, winning the Gold Coast Guineas in 2010 and this race last year. Despite her poor run first up, she’s surely worth a ticket at 50-1.

The Listed Ken Russell Memorial Classic (1200m) for two year olds is named for jockey Ken Russell, who tragically died at Rosehill in the mid-1990s. It’s always a great race, and this year looks to be no exception. I was keen on Hoss Amor but she is scratched, so instead I’ll expect Sizzling to run a huge race.

I’ll also be keen to see the very promising Rocker as he progresses through the grades in the third race, the Surfers Paradise RSL Benchmark 90 Handicap over 1200m.

HAWKESBURY

Listed Rowley Mile (1600m)

The only fitting way that this race can end up is if Gai Waterhouse, the queen of the 2012 Sydney Carnival, can quinella the race. She has a very good chance of doing this. I think, however, that she can win the race with the rejuvenated WESTERN SYMBOL. If you’d told me I’d have him in a race like this at the start of the carnival, I would have scoffed. But he is going very well. He’s heading towards the Brisbane Cup and I now think Gai may have another good Kiwi import on her hands. FAST CLIP is a bit hit and miss but his Doncaster run was very good. Goes up in weight substantially here, but drops a lot in class. Still, prefer the stablemate on the up. ALMA’S FURY was good behind Fast Clip in the Doncaster Mile Prelude when not much made ground and he’s had three weeks between runs, while I’ll be keen to see how WAZN goes for Chris Waller first up.

2 – WESTERN SYMBOL
1 – FAST CLIP
7 – ALMA’S FURY
6 – WAZN

Also on the card…

The Listed Darley Crown (1300m) ironically features two Darley scratchings! They still have one runner though, and I think that’s as good a lead as any. Load up on Screen!

In the Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m), Landing is a short priced favourite as he has been very impressive in remaining unbeaten. However, I can’t quite believe the price around Pied a Terre and I’m happy to take him at the double figure quote!

NEWMARKET

Group 1 2000 Guineas (a1600m)

The first of the English classics for 2012. Run over the straight mile at Newmarket, it is hard to believe the flat season is already here again. This race creates legends. Last year, it was the freakish Frankel who turned on one of the most incredible displays I’ve seen, leading out comfortably and opening up a fifteen length gap on the field at the halfway mark. He won very comfortably and remains unbeaten. Two seasons before that, it was another legend in Sea The Stars who began his remarkable three year old season in style. Therefore, this is the stepping stone to greater heights – even though this is a pretty big mountain to climb in the first place!

This year’s race looks strong, with Aidan O’Brien particularly looking to have a strong hand. I do think it isIreland’s race to lose, but I’m going to look outside of the favourite, who had a setback over the winter. Instead, I’m going to go for BORN TO SEA – the half brother to Sea The Stars and Galileo. He looked a good type inIrelandas a two year old, albeit a galloper who would make a better three year old. I think he’ll be heading to Epsom after this but I’d love to see him win here. CAMELOT is the favourite and deservedly so, given his big win in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy (1600m) at Doncaster in October. He’ll be better suited in theDerbybut no reason he can’t run well here, and the market suggests he’ll run a big race. Big chance for Aidan O’Brien. The stablemate POWER looks more a miler but I don’t think he has the class of Camelot. But the fact he’ll be more suited at the distance could have an influence. For fourth, throw in the each way chance FENCING, who ranks below Camelot on performances last year but looked to have improvement in him as a three year old. I think this will be a very good edition of the Guineas.

3 – BORN TO SEA
5 – CAMELOT
11 – POWER
8 – FENCING

Also on the card…

Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden returns in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes (a2400m). He looks set to go off as third favourite behind Grand Prix de Paris winner Meandre and the emerging Fiorente. Also in the field are OTI Racing’s Cumberland Lodge Stakes winner Quest for Peace, a likely Melbourne Cup contender this year, and  last year’s English St Leger winner Masked Marvel. In a race of many chances, Quest for Peace looks at good odds given his brilliant win in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes. I’d be willing to have something on him to beat the Melbourne Cup winner.

CHURCHILL DOWNS

Group 1 Kentucky Derby (a2000m)

The Kentucky Derby, the Run for the Roses, is America’s great race. Known by American sporting enthusiasts as the “most exciting two minutes in sport”, it is a great occasion. It is legendary – from the crowd’s stirring rendition of My Old Kentucky Home to the customary mint juleps, it is one of the world’s most famous racedays on and off the track. But as always, much of the action revolves around which three year old will prove his mettle in this race of much importance.

I’m not a huge American racing fan. I think there are a lot of flaws with their industry and I don’t know if they have a sustainable model moving into the future. Nevertheless, I’m still in awe of the Kentucky Derby. I cannot wait to stand trackside at Churchill Downs one day.

Anyway, to this year’s race – as usual, how open!!! The Racing Post is calling this “the most accomplished field for at least a decade” while ESPN says “a compelling case can probably be made for half the field”. Bodemeister, who did not run as a two year old, is the current favourite following his thumping victory in the Arkansas Derby. However, the horse I was really taken with in the lead ups was Blue Grass Stakes winner DULLAHAN. His effort to come from a long way back to gun down Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen, showing a tremendous turn of foot, was very commendable. I think he has the ideal style for a Kentucky Derby and I’m keen to back him. His main danger to my eyes is UNION RAGS. I was with a few American journos in Dubai when he ran third to Take Charge Indy and they believed he was hard done by. He certainly lost no admirers that day. He’s being touted as a potential contender for the Triple Crown, so I’d love to see him win here. The ghostly grey HANSEN, I have to include given I rank Dullahan so highly. He beat Union Rags in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on this track last year but I’m not sure if he’s at his best. However, the connections are supremely confident. And BODEMEISTER comes in next best, but he’s under the odds in my opinion. At each way value, UAE Derby winner Daddy Long Legs (for Aidan O’Brien and Ireland) and Creative Cause look the next best. But I’m very keen on the prospects of Dullahan!

5 – DULLAHAN
4 – UNION RAGS
14 – HANSEN
6 – BODEMEISTER

Enjoy the next 24 hours of fantastic racing – and cheer home the mighty Blues (ie Chelsea) in the FA Cup Final in the early hours of Sunday morning!!!

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