The National Hunt campaign comes to an end at the weekend, and it’s always with a tinge of sadness that we wave jumps racing goodbye for six months or so.
But, there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and that’s because the flat season really kicks into gear now.
The first two classics, the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, will take place over Newmarket’s Rowley Mile early in May, and these tend to be cracking betting heats for punters with a keen eye for detail and a knowledge of the history books.
It is well worth doing your research ahead of the weekend, and here’s a couple of pointers that might help you to unearth a winner from these Triple Crown affairs.
2000 Guineas Facts and Trends
Not ones for traditional chronology, the 2000 Guineas takes place on the Saturday of the Festival, with the 1000 version coming 24 hours later.
The 2000 Guineas is open to three-year-olds of both gender, and is contested over 8f on the appropriately-named Rowley Mile.
This is the first of the Classic races of the season, followed by the 1000 Guineas, the Oaks, the Derby and the St Leger, and so there’s a handsome paycheque on offer for winning connections: nearly £300,000, to be precise.
Five of the last seven renewals have been won by the favourite, with prices ranging from 11/8 to 4/1.
Previous successes should be sort: 11 of the last 12 champions had won at least two flat races prior to their Guineas triumph, with 8/12 winning on their last outing.
And here’s an odd trend that you might not necessarily consider: only three of the last twelve 2000 Guineas winners had run previously in their winning campaign!
Trainers to Watch
Anyone who knows their flat racing will know that there’s a dominant force that tends to hoover up these big races.
Aidan O’Brien is the most decorated trainer in 2000 Guineas history with nine different winners, and recent renewals have been particularly kind for the Irishman with Gleneagles (2015), Churchill (2017) and Saxon Warrior (2018) all obliging.
He will be looking for the hat-trick this time around, and his connection with the Smith, Magnier & Tabor yard is always a great help. Their main entry, Ten Sovereigns, looks as though it might be tough to beat.
John Gosden is yet to saddle a 2000 Guineas winner, and his chances of a maiden triumph were dealt a blow in 2019 when his ante post favourite, Too Darn Hot, was not declared for the big race.
However, he still has Calyx in his armoury, and the Coventry Stakes winner is being well respected by the market with a price crash from 20/1 to 8/1.
Another trainer yet to get their name on the 2000 Guineas trophy is William Haggas, but his charge Skardu is quietly fancied after claiming glory in the Craven Stakes earlier in the campaign.
1000 Guineas Facts and Trends
The first leg of the Fillies’ Triple Crown takes place on the Sunday of the Festival, and only the best three-year-olds need apply.
Again run on the Rowley Mile, the 1000 Guineas was first hosted in 1814, and today the purse matches that of the 2000 Guineas at £500,000 in total and nearly £300,000 to the winner.
The 2018 edition was notable for a number of reasons, not least the champion: Billesdon Brook, a winner at a cool 66/1 with the bookies! Congrats if you were on.
That was the first 1000 Guineas win for Richard Hannon Jr, who followed in the footsteps of his father Richard who had won with Sky Lantern in 2013.
Only four favourites have won the last ten editions of this race, so unlike the 2000 Guineas it seems harder for the more fancied horses to get over the line.
Also, it’s noticeable that the winning horse tends to come from the second half of the stalls: of the last five champions, four had been in stall seven or higher.
Unlike the 2000 Guineas, it is less of a concern if your chosen fancy had run recently; indeed, eight of the last twelve winners of this renewal had run in the preceding 31 days.
Course and distance form can be key as well. Eight of the past dozen winners had turned out at least once at Newmarket before, and nine of them had at least one victory over the 8f mark to their name.
Experience is crucial too, with 10/12 champions having at least four races on the flat prior to their Guineas triumph and eight of those had won a Group 1-3 affair at some point.
Trainers to Watch
Four of the last seven editions of the 1000 Guineas have won by the Smith, Magnier & Tabor connection – no surprise there – with three of those saddled by Aidan O’Brien and the other by David Wachman.
The ante post favourite with the bookies is Qabala, trained by Roger Varian who is yet to saddle a 1000 Guineas winner. But the filly is yet to win over 8f and only has two runs to her name, so there is a clear ‘going against the grain’ when we look at the stats and trends of previous successes in this race.
Punters who prefer to follow the patterns may take a look at Just Wonderful (9/1). This bay horse has Aidan O’Brien on training duties and comes from the famous yard of Smith, Magnier and co. She’s already won at Newmarket before and has a success over the 8f distance, and so there are plenty of boxes ticked there.
Whoever you go for, good luck and enjoy a fantastic weekend of racing!