Racing Expert & Columnist
Alex Hammond Blog ahead of 2000 Guineas weekend
Last Updated: 02/05/19 4:01pm
Alex Hammond thinks Madhmoon could give veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast a moment to remember at Newmarket this weekend.
The colts have been dropping like flies ahead of the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday - who do you think will win the colt's Classic?
Well the absence of Too Darn Hot, Quorto, Mohaather and the like has made it more of a conundrum that's for sure.
Aidan O'Brien looks to hold the key with the two market protagonists, Magna Grecia (Sky Bet's 100/30 fav) and Ten Sovereigns (9/2 second fav). The race will be run to suit one of them, but not both.
Vertem Futurity winner Magna Grecia is likely to want a searching gallop to make the most of his stamina and Ten Sovereigns is the exact opposite having racked up three wins as a juvenile, all over six furlongs, culminating in the Middle Park where he looked like a true speedball.
There's no doubt they have possibly the strongest claims on form, but I like two at slightly bigger prices. Madhmoon is a colt I really took to last season.
Kevin Prendergast's colt looks to have his quirks and it's disappointing that he was turned over in a Guineas trial in Ireland on his reappearance, but he has plenty of ability and the run won't have done him any harm. He's currently 7/1 with Sky Bet.
The other horse I like is Advertise, the mount of Frankie Dettori, who was in treble-winning form at Ascot on their Royal Ascot Trials Day on Wednesday.
Advertise has strong two-year-old form having finished second in the Coventry to Calyx (how impressive was he at Ascot?!), he won the July Stakes, got his Group 1 win in the Phoenix Stakes and wasn't disgraced in finishing second to Too Darn Hot in the Dewhurst.
His trainer Martyn Meade has suggested he could be overpriced at 8/1, and I'm inclined to agree.
The QIPCO 1000 Guineas looks very open too, where's your money going Alex?
It's the top two in the market that I like the most I'm afraid, so no prizes for originality.
Qabala is Sky Bet's 5/2 favourite and comes into Sunday's race having won the Nell Gwyn over seven furlongs last time out.
The extra furlong shouldn't pose any problems and the dry weather in the run up to the meeting is also in her favour. David Egan rode her to win at Newmarket last time out and keeps the ride on Roger Varian's filly as Andrea Atzeni is suspended; it could be a landmark day for the talented young rider.
Skitter Scatter is trained in Ireland, now under the name of John Oxx, as her previous trainer Patrick Prendergast has joined forces with the multiple Classic winning trainer as his assistant.
Oxx will be searching for a 12th Classic at Newmarket this weekend and his first for a decade. The filly hasn't had the benefit of a trial this spring, so there is an element of doubt over her fitness, but there is no one better at readying a horse for the big occasion than Oxx, ably assisted by the man who knows her best.
She was the leading juvenile filly in Ireland as her win in the Moyglare Stud Stakes showed and I hope she can carry that forward at three.
Purely at the prices, I'll stick with Skitter Scatter who is 11/2 with Sky Bet at the time of writing.
Chester's May Festival kicks off on Wednesday, what are you most looking forward to?
I'm really excited to be heading up to Chester for the first time in many years to cover all the action from the Roodee.
It's a unique and spectacular track and you need plenty of luck in running, but it also attracts top-class runners in the various Classic trials and the three day fixture is topped off by one of the most famous staying handicaps, the Chester Cup.
Viewers of Sky Sports Racing may have seen a couple of features recently highlighting the success at the track for trainer Andrew Balding and separately, jockey Franny Norton, so sticking with that duo won't see you go far wrong.
One thing to note is the draw as it's so important at Chester. The lower the draw the better on this tight left-handed circuit, so it's always worth checking that before getting heavily involved.
The big betting race is the aforementioned Chester Cup, which takes place over 2 mile 2 ½ furlongs and will see the horses pass the winning post three times; it's a great spectacle.
Ante-post favourite Austrian School has the honour of being a half-brother to Grand National hero Tiger Roll, but he's not guaranteed to line up on Friday, despite being 'well in' at the weights. He could instead step up in class and go for the Yorkshire Cup. We'll await trainer Mark Johnston's final call on that one.
I'm not sure if Cleonte will bid to go two better than his third place in the Sagaro Stakes behind Dee Ex Bee on Wednesday, but if he does, he's one from Balding's stable to note.
Willie Mullins may now be without his legendary jockey Ruby Walsh after he announced his retirement on Wednesday, but Mullins could have something to put a smile on his face with multiple entries in the race, including Sky Bet's 8/1 second favourite Low Sun.
Join us next week if you can, where Sky Sports Racing will have a knowledgeable team of presenters and pundits ready to unravel all the Chester races and hopefully point you in the way of a few winners.