Heady Action Gets Underway at Newmarket

   Heading into a weekend when celebration is the keyword in Britain, Newmarket’s three-day QIPCO Guineas Festival begins on Friday with some action designed to build the intensity towards the main events. Fittingly, the fixture’s opener is the Listed Newmarket S., the race once used by the Derby-winning icons Shirley Heights (GB) and Slip Anchor (GB) and this year hosting one of The King and Queen Consort’s outside squeaks at a blue riband runner in Circle Of Fire (GB) (Almanzor {Fr}). Just a Salisbury novice winner at present, the colt bred by The Queen who derives from Juddmonte royalry has that additional edge of being with Sir Michael Stoute, who proved in 2022 that the art of expertise and longstanding experience still counts for plenty in the kiln of modern-day racing.

What Next For Waipiro?
   Another unexposed colt in the Newmarket S. is the Ed Walker-trained Waipiro (Ire) (Australia {GB}), who looked so assured over this 10-furlong trip and track at the Craven meeting. A half-brother to the Hong Kong star Waikuku (Ire) (Harbour Watch {Ire}), the bay promises to spark pre-Derby excitement at the Upper Lambourn set-up much as English King (Fr) (Camelot {GB}) did three years ago. “We want to find out sooner or later if he is a horse who could be lining up at Epsom, so really he needs to be winning this in order to do so,” Walker said. “He’s got to take another step forwards, he took a big step forwards from his debut and he’s got to take another tomorrow.”

Another Hurricane Season In The Offing?
Even if the Newmarket S. does not host a genuine Derby colt, five races in there is the chance to witness one who has already traversed that particular terrain in Hurricane Lane (Ire) (Frankel {GB}). Clearly, the horse who failed to beat a rival in Newbury’s G3 John Porter S. is a shadow of the one who bounded out of Epsom’s Blue Riband two years ago and completed a not-inconsequential treble of Irish Derby, Grand Prix de Paris and St Leger and went close in an Arc. Will cheekpieces focus that racing mind to tune back in with the outstanding physicality? The G2 Jockey Club S., one of Newmarket’s most consistently uncompetitive yet undeniably intriguing annual happenings, will tell us.

Charlie Appleby has come to use the two racecourses of the town’s Heathland almost as his private domain in recent years and this is another big afternoon, especially with Godolphin’s champion 2-year-old of 2021 and G1 Irish 2000 Guineas hero Native Trail (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) also in action in the G2 bet365 Mile. Switched from the flooded Sandown and much-changed in make-up from the version that was due to take place a week previously, it is one of two races saved from that fixture and now an ideal launchpad for the colt who looked to have the world at his feet as he went to post for the Saturday Classic 12 months ago. With a pair of colts engaged in the Newmarket S. and the course-and-distance conditions winner Majestic Pride (GB) (Shamardal) in the seven-furlong Listed King Charles II S., this is very much another day at the office for Moulton Paddocks but there is certainly no contempt in this familiarity with this verdant landscape perfectly complemented by the army in royal blue livery.

Ballydoyle Big Guns Drawn Together In Guineas Poser
   As the confirmations for Saturday’s G1 Qipco 2000 Guineas were unveiled on Thursday morning, Aidan O’Brien made the only scratching of the race as he took out Cairo (Ire) (Quality Road) but more importantly affirmed that there would be no ducking out of an encounter between two of the most talented colts to have raced for the stable in recent times. While the destinies of the TDN Rising Stars Auguste Rodin (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) and Little Big Bear (Ire) (No Nay Never) are certain to play out independently of the other after the mile Classic, this is where they will both begin their keenly-anticipated second-season odysseys and by an act of strange fortune they were positioned alongside each other in stalls 12 and 13 respectively.

As expected, Ryan Moore has picked the potentially “special” one who comes back to England having fired his salvo the G1 Futurity Trophy in the autumn, while Wayne Lordan takes his longstanding behind-closed-doors link-up with the brilliant 2-year-old master of 2022 Little Big Bear into the open for the first time. Following The King’s momentous Coronation on Saturday, talk of Crowning in this sphere will evolve around the lore of Britain’s Triple, not achieved by a colt since Nijinsky in 1970. It was notable how enthusiastic O’Brien was for Auguste Rodin’s prospects of this daunting feat in his Great British Racing press conference this week.
“Obviously the Triple Crown is a very hard thing to do, but sometime it would be great to do it,” he said of the colt whose pull is so potent it meant that Ryan Moore was remarkably deserted a champion 2-year-old who would have been hot property in most of the preceding renewals. “It is a difficult type of horse to find, because they have to have a lot of class and they have to have pace enough to run in the Guineas. It is really class that those horses have to have. It’s pure class and class gives them stamina and gives them speed. We just thought that, at the moment, he fits into that bracket really well.”

What Effect The Draw?
Quite where Auguste Rodin and Little Big Bear sit if the race becomes tactical, as it can on the Rowley Mile, remains to be seen and an unclear weather forecast leading up to Saturday does invite the possibility of watering and the prospect of favoured patches of ground. Twelve months ago, much was made of the meeting’s bias toward low numbers with Coroebus (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) upstaging Native Trail as they came from opposite ends of the draw on good ground. There is also the question of where the early pace lies, with Juddmonte’s G1 Dewhurst S. hero Chaldean (GB) (Frankel {GB}) who was so comfortable from the front at two being draw in stall three and Ahmad Al Shaikh’s G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud winner Dubai Mile (Ire) (Roaring Lion) certain to help force the pace in six.
This is a tough Guineas to predict in terms of tactics, but as far as providing a level playing field it is Clerk of the Course Michael Prosser who has the responsibility. “We have just lightly watered the final eight furlongs, which is the quickest part of the course,” he said in his update at noon on Thursday. “The forecast has changed, basically. At this time yesterday, we were forecast rain first thing in the morning and obviously into the afternoon, so that forecast now advises those showers will be coming later. We have put down 4mm to maintain the position. The final eight furlongs is all but done.”

“Even the Saturday forecast has changed and the volumes don’t look as significant, although there is a more organised band of rain coming through mid-morning Saturday through to lunchtime,” he added. “What we’re being told this morning is that there might be a dry interlude during racing, which will be really helpful if that is how it unfolded.”

Buick Opts For Silver Over Style…
With memories of 12 months ago fresh in the mind, William Buick has had another difficult choice to make in the 2000 Guineas as he bids to atone for missing out on Native Trail (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}). While the lure of the unbeaten TDN Rising Star and G2 Gimcrack S. winner Noble Style (GB) (Kingman {GB}) is obvious, he has stuck with the G3 Solario S. and G3 Autumn S. winner and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Silver Knott (GB) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), who will part from the middle stall in seven. “Noble Style is a Gimcrack winner and unbeaten, so he’s a high-class horse too, but he’s stepping up two furlongs to a mile,” he told QIPCO British Champions Series as he justified his choice of the colt already proven at the trip.

The post Heady Action Gets Underway at Newmarket appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.