There is a real buzz around Newmarket ahead of the two-day Guineas meeting and a feeling that the flat season is really under way now. It won’t have gone unnoticed to you all how small the fields at Newmarket on Saturday. Five of the eight races have seven or less runners before any further non-runners. I suppose it’s a mixture of fast ground and so much racing on offer that has caused it. John and Thady Gosden don’t have a single runner on the card and Sir Michael Stoute only saddles the one. Anyway, I’ve four nice rides to look forward to including Mystery Smiles in the big one itself.
⚡ I’ve also recorded a Zoom Room with Bill Esdaile with more thoughts on the big race CLICK HERE TO WATCH NOW
Here are my Saturday thoughts …
1.15pm IF YOU DARE
My first ride of the day is If You Dare for Mark Johnston in the opening six furlong handicap. There are only the six runners and I’ve never actually ridden him before. However, he won nicely back at Southwell in March and if he can convert that form to turf, he could be competitive. Creative Force won well here last time and sets the bar pretty high.
1.50pm (Suffolk Stakes)
No ride for me in the second where I’d give Maydanny a big chance, again for Mark Johnston. I won a nice handicap at Goodwood on him last summer (pictured below) and he will relish the fast ground. Bell Rock and Bright Melody are both easy to fancy too in what looks a good race.
2.25pm (Palace House Stakes)
Unfortunately, I’ll be watching the Palace House from the weighing room, but if I wasn’t I’d like to be riding Emaraaty Ana for Kevin Ryan. He’s had a couple of runs to put him straight for this and appears to be hitting form at the right time. Lazuli deserves to be favourite after a nice run in Dubai, while the likes of Came From The Dark and Arecibo both bounced back to form last time.
3.00pm (Jockey Club Stakes)
Only five runners where Sir Ron Priestley looks the one to beat. He won well at Nottingham after a long absence and will be tough to catch from the front. Al Zaraqaan looks a smart prospect though, so it promises to be close.
3.40pm MYSTERY SMILES (2000 Guineas)
Someone mentioned to me yesterday that Mystery Smiles is a 100/1 shot! I couldn’t believe it, 25/1 maybe, but surely not 100/1. I don’t know anything about bookmaking, but he certainly doesn’t feel like a 100/1 chance to me. His price suggests he is a no-hoper and he is anything but that. Admittedly, he has a bit to find on the best of these and was a little behind Master Of The Seas in the Craven (finish pictured below). However, he was third that day and was running on nicely at the death. He’ll improve for that and I certainly expect him to outrun his odds. Looking at the rest of them and obviously the eye is drawn to Ryan Moore’s mount Wembley. The one I like though is Battleground who has that man Frankie Dettori in the saddle. Being by War Front he will love a fast ground strongly run mile and he’s the one if it’s not us.
4.15pm CHIL CHIL
Chil Chil showed plenty of promise on her opening run of the season here a few weeks ago when she finished a neck behind Count Otto. She’s gone up 4lbs for that, but we know she handles the track and conditions, so she should go well.
4.50pm (Betfair Newmarket Stakes)
The smallest field of the day line up for the Newmarket Stakes with just the four runners. It’s hard to rule any of them out though with Secret Protector getting the vote after a good run here last time.
In the last I partner Longlai, again for King Power Racing, who was a good winner at Beverley last week. He was a two-year-old we really liked last term and the gelding operation seems to have been the making of him. Despite the fact that he has to race off a 7lbs higher mark in a better race, he should be bang there if in the same mood.