The Grand National was only three weeks ago and after this weekend two of the five British Classics will have taken place. The 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas are run over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket on Saturday and Sunday and track form could be key to identifying potential winners. Masar and Soliloquy won the trials at the Craven meeting at the headquarters of the Flat and they could follow up and win two the races that matter most for horses aged three over eight furlongs.
The 2,000 Guineas is mainly for colts but fillies are also eligible but very few are entered. The 1,000 Guineas is confined to fillies and colts do not qualify for the race. These two Classics are the first leg of the respective Triple Crown. The Derby at Epsom in June and the St Leger at Doncaster in September are the other races for colts. The Oaks and St Leger complete the treble for fillies but the achievement for both genders is rare. Nijinsky (1970) and Oh So Sharp (1985) are the last male and female horses to win the Triple Crown.
A horse must be at his or her best over one mile in May, 12 furlongs in June and one mile six furlongs in September. Keeping a horse fit and in peak condition on three specific days is difficult but beating the best Flat horses aged three over three distances and a span of four months is tough and that’s why Triple Crown winners are few and far between. Saxon Warrior for the boys and I Can Fly for the girls are potentials but a lot water will flow under the bridge from now until September.
Saxon Warrior went into winter quarters as the favourite for the 2,000 Guineas after winning the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last autumn. However, the value of the form is questionable and other horses have risen up the pecking order with impressive trials this season. Saxon Warrior is running for the first time this season at Newmarket on Saturday and there could be fitter horses in the field so the Derby could be a more realistic target. Gustav Klimt like Saxon Warrior is trained by Aidan O’Brien who has won the race seven times.
The O’Brien horses will be trained to the minute and the trainer knows what it takes to win Group 1 races for which he set a world record last season. However, Masar is preferred as the horse is proven on the straight course at Newmarket and handled the undulations in the Craven Stakes. Seven winners of the race have run in the 1,000 Guineas in the last ten years and none have won it and five have been unplaced but Masar can break that trend by winning the 2,000 Guineas.
Clemmie is another O’Brien horse and ante post favourite for the 1,000 Guineas but won’t run in the race on Sunday. The horse had the strongest juvenile form but injury prevents confirmation in the fillies’ Classic. Happily now has the best form and is the sister of Glenaagles who won the 1,000 Guineas so the pedigree is right. The horse won a Group 1 race in France last season but had no luck in running in the Breeder’s Cup. However, Soliloquy won the major trial over the course and is the filly to back in this year’s 1,000 Guineas.