Tag Archive for: 1000 Guineas

Fallen Angel seeking Classic redemption at the Curragh

Karl Burke is optimistic Fallen Angel can show her true colours when she gets a second chance at Classic glory in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas on Sunday.

The Too Darn Hot filly is already a Group One winner at the Curragh, having signed off an excellent juvenile campaign with victory in the Moyglare Stud Stakes in September.

She was sent off favourite to provide her trainer with a first Classic success on home soil on her seasonal reappearance in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket three weeks ago, but finished only eighth of 16 runners, albeit beaten less than five lengths by the surprise scorer Elmalka.

While keen not to make excuses for his star filly’s underwhelming performance at Headquarters, Burke is quietly confident of an improved effort on Irish soil this weekend.

Karl Burke has high hopes for Fallen Angel
Karl Burke has high hopes for Fallen Angel (Mike Egerton/PA)

He said: “She came out of Newmarket really well, she’s in great shape and I’m very happy with her, so fingers crossed she can run a bit better for us on Sunday.

“She just wasn’t good enough on the day in the Guineas, it’s as simple as that, but she looks in really good form and she’s obviously proven on the track (the Curragh). Hopefully the ground will be decent and we’ll see what happens.

“We’ll learn a little bit more about her and I’d be very hopeful she can run a big race for us.”

The likely favourite is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Opera Singer, who has not been seen in competitive action since her scintillating display in the Prix Marcel Boussac at ParisLongchamp last October.

With a spring setback having delayed the Justify filly’s three-year-old debut, the Ballydoyle handler has warned she will not be at concert pitch, with a trip to Royal Ascot for next month’s Coronation Stakes already identified as her next objective.

“Opera Singer will run but she will improve a lot from it. She didn’t have a straightforward spring, but we’re hoping if we got her started, we would have her right for Ascot,” said the Ballydoyle handler.

“She’ll run a nice race, hopefully. She has done very well physically, but she did have a setback in the spring which cost us three weeks and if you get cost three weeks, it usually costs you two months, so that’s where we are with her.

“She’s in good form, Dean (Gallagher) is riding her every day and seems happy, so she is coming.”

O’Brien also saddles Buttons, Pearls And Rubies and the supplemented Everlasting, as he looks to add to his record haul of 10 victories in Ireland’s first fillies’ Classic of the year.

Paddy Twomey fires a twin assault, with the unbeaten A Lilac Rolla joined by stablemate Purple Lily.

A Lilac Rolla (left) on her way to victory at Leopardstown
A Lilac Rolla (left) on her way to victory at Leopardstown (Brian Lawless/PA)

A Lilac Rolla made it three from three in a Group Three at Leopardstown on her most recent outing, while Purple Lily steps back in trip to a mile after being narrowly beaten over 10 furlongs in the Salsabil Stakes at Navan.

Twomey said: “They’re two nice fillies with two nice profiles, they’ve ran three times each and progressed every time. We’ve got two good riders and we’re looking forward to Sunday.”

The once-raced Leopardstown maiden winner Azada bids to provide Dermot Weld with a third successive victory in the race following the recent wins of Homeless Songs and Tahiyra, while the Willie McCreery-trained Vespertilio turns out just two weeks after finishing a close third in the French 1000 Guineas.

“She seems in great form and when it’s on your doorstep, you have to take a chance,” said McCreery.

“I hope they don’t get too much rain, I think she’s better on better ground, but she won’t mind as long as it’s not too soft.

“We’re hopeful that if she puts in the same run as she did in France, we’ll be there or thereabouts.”



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Monday Musings: Of Bubbles Burst

When they get beat, the Coolmore Classic hotpots, especially in the 2000 Guineas, they make a proper job of it, writes Tony Stafford. Auguste Rodin’s capitulation a year ago, preceding as it did two Derby victories, had a variety of explanations to soften the apparent finality of it. City Of Troy’s tame drift away from the action from a long way out, may be less easy to explain.

I wasn’t the only one with egg on my face, having championed his two runs on the same piece of Suffolk real estate, albeit a few furlongs apart, last year. The Superlative Stakes win from Haatem was, well, superlative. His Dewhurst romp was a tour de force, leading all the way then sprinting up the last furlong with Haatem again well behind.

So how could Haatem turn that around so emphatically, third behind only previously unbeaten Godolphin horse Notable Speech and his own stable-companion, second favourite Rosallion? Just over three lengths behind Charlie Appleby’s second and William Buick’s first 2000 winner, he was now 13 lengths in front of the odds-on favourite, who trailed in ninth of eleven.

Aidan O’Brien professed himself shocked and so would most of the massive crowd, one which gridlocked the always slow-motion Newmarket High Street for hours before the 1.10 p.m. meeting start. Talk might have been of records but there were a few there when Nijinsky started his Triple Crown journey more than 50 years ago, too, and not quite as many cars either!

The filming media behaved as if they were there to attend a Royal family meltdown or a PM taking his leave in front of Number Ten. Apparently unflappable as he was being saddled, there was a paparazzi feel as the lenses pointed his way right in his eyeline as the final touches were being completed. Agitated Newmarket staff shooed away many of the regular Coolmore supporters across to the other side of the horse path, but the cameras were allowed to stand their ground.

Considering this was a race with several previously unbeaten opponents, including the winner – three for three at Kempton, so making his turf debut – his price was either dangerously short (as it proved) or even a little generous, given the expectations.

If anyone can bring a horse back from such an unexpected reverse, Aidan O’Brien is the man and he has before, but talk of another Frankel now looks fanciful.

It’s four weeks to the Derby and we were all talking in the paddock beforehand that his pedigree is more that of a Derby horse than a Guineas type. We’ll have to see. He’s 8/1 now. Last year after a similar reverse, Auguste Rodin was only 3/1 and we know what happened at Epsom with him!

The Coolmore boys stayed up late on Saturday night to watch the Kentucky Derby in which they had two interests, a 100% involvement in second-favourite Sierra Leone and 75% of the Todd Pletcher-trained Fierceness. Todd’s runner faded away after a prominent start but the Chad Brown trainee Sierra Leone must be rated a very unlucky loser.

Held up on the rail around a dozen lengths behind the pace set by Track Phantom until making a move at the end of the back straight, jockey Tyler Gaffalione found himself in a tight position around the turn and was forced to go very wide.

Meanwhile Mystik Dan under Brian Hernandez made a run for home on the rail while Sierra Leone began his wide, late and rather erratic surge in company with the Japanese-trained Forever Young on his inside.

By the time they reached the post, the camera showed there were pixels between the trio and a verdict of nose, nose in favour of Mystik Dan, trained in Lexington by Kenny McPeek, gained the verdict. That nose makes a massive difference: initially £1.7 million between the two top prizes but also his potential as a stallion when he departs racing, presumably to Coolmore’s US branch, Ashford Stud in Lexington. Ashford is home of the only two Triple Crown winners of the last half century, American Pharoah and City of Troy’s sire Justify. They expected two more – one here and one over there.

It truly was the Maktoum family’s weekend, for after the success of Sheikh Mohammed’s Notable Speech on Saturday, Ahmed Al Maktoum, his younger brother won the 1000 Guineas with 28/1 outsider Elmalka, trained by Roger Varian and ridden by Silvestre De Sousa.

In a wide open market, in contrast to the one-eyed appearance of Saturday’s Classic, the fillies’ equivalent offered the prospect of a quintet of potential winners as they came to the last furlong. Until just before the line, two young overseas trainers were entitled to believe their fillies would win.

Ramatuelle (Christopher Head, France) looked sure to hold on but she was challenged late, initially by Porta Fortuna, Donnacha O’Brien/Tom Marquand, but only too briefly as Elmalka finished fastest of all having trailed the field early in the 16-runner contest.

Two others merit a mention. Fourth under a typical, but in this case just too late, Jamie Spencer ride was the David Menuisier filly Tamfana, while Ylang Ylang kept on well for fifth under Ryan Moore, the Aidan O’Brien inmate not getting the clearest of runs. She’ll be set for running over further, maybe in the Musidora next time at York – just guessing on that one.

Elmalka, a daughter of Kingman, was third previously in the Fred Darling Stakes (or whatever appellation it now goes by) at Newbury, where she had rallied to finish close up behind Folgario and Regal Jubilee. The Fred Darling runner-up also started at 28/1 yesterday but finished well down the field for the Gosdens. No doubt Marco Botti, trainer of Folgario, must have wondered why she wasn’t in the line-up.

Unbeaten in five starts as a juvenile initially in Italy (four wins) and then one in France, trained by Marco’s relative Stefano, she has the Coronation Stakes as her sole entry at this stage. Six races unbeaten will make her an interesting wildcard into that always-significant Royal Ascot midsummer Group 1.

I must thank the Editor for drawing my attention to, and therefore helping me follow, this tortuous link. Back in 2007 the most impressive winner of the Coronation Stakes, and a filly that never raced again, was Indian Ink. Trained by Richard Hannon senior, ridden by Richard Hughes, and in the colours of Raymond Tooth – she won by six lengths slaughtering such as Finsceal Beo, and the rest.

Yesterday, in the colours of Clipper Logistics in the 40k newcomers’ race for 2yo fillies, her daughter River Seine (by Soldier’s Call) ran a highly promising second for Karl Burke to Godolphin’s Mountain Breeze, Buick’s pick of three for Charlie even if she sported the nominally third-choice red cap. River Seine could well make a visit to the scene of her mother’s finest hour, but she will have to find a fair bit to turn yesterday’s form around. Karl Burke will give it a go, no doubt.

Of all the performances over the two days at Newmarket, I have to point to Hughie Morrison’s Ben and Sir Martyn Arbib homebred Stay Alert, who ran away with the 1m1f Dahlia Stakes, tracking the Gosdens’ 6/4 favourite Running Lion into the dip and then drawing away with the rest trailing behind.

Hughie Morrison kept her to high-class opposition last year when her best performance had been a two-length second to Via Sistina in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. Most observers thought she was an unlucky loser that day and the subsequent exploits of the winner which precipitated a sale for 2.7 million guineas at last year’s December sale made her the one to beat yesterday.

Via Sistina was bought by Australian interests and has already won and been second, the latter in the Queen Elizabeth Cup at Randwick in Sydney last month. Her debut win at £310k was worth more than either Guineas race and her second place of £454,000 in the QE Cup was only 130 grand short of the combined total of our first two Classics.

If she had won, the prize would have been £1,577,000. No wonder my good friend and one of the most experienced observers of the racing scene here and overseas for many years says, “We’re a laughing stock! Just get rid of off-course bookmakers – they won’t let anyone have a proper bet anyway – and our racing, which is the best in the world, will take off.” 

* Just a note. While talking of bookmakers who won’t take a proper bet, I’ve just received a copy of well-known former Rails bookmaker Stephen Little’s entertaining autobiography. He was someone who did take a bet as “From Bicycle to Bentley” reveals.

The foreword is by his long-time friend Sir Mark Prescott and it’s published by Pen and Sword Books in Barnsley S70 2AS. My pal Sir Rupert Mackeson has been instrumental in getting Pen and Sword to fill what had become an alarming gap in the production of books with a horse racing theme. Well done, Rupert. As much of it overlaps my time in racing, for me it’s a great reminder of those wonderful days.

  - TS



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Burke confident Fallen Angel will stay Guineas trip

Karl Burke has never won a British Classic, but that could all change on Sunday when Fallen Angel goes for Qipco 1000 Guineas glory at Newmarket.

The daughter of Too Darn Hot won three of her four starts last season, travelling to Ireland and returning to North Yorkshire with Group One honours having picked up the Moyglare Stud Stakes on her final start of the year.

That victory established her as a Guineas contender and she is towards the head of the betting lists with dreams intact and the big race fast approaching following an encouraging racecourse gallop on the Rowley Mile last month.

Fallen Angel returns after her gallop
Fallen Angel returns after her gallop last month (Adam Morgan/PA)

Burke said: “From the end of last season, the plan was always to go straight to the Guineas. Steve (Parkin, owner) likes to keep the dream alive, the filly has run four times and she’s a clean-winded filly, so there was never really any need to go for a race.

“The mile holds no qualms, she should improve for the mile. If you watch all her races, she’s doing her best work at the end, she doesn’t do a lot when she hits the front and even in her racecourse gallop, Danny (Tudhope) gave her a little slap to keep her mind on it. She’ll probably stay further, to be honest.

“She takes everything in her stride and that’s why at home she probably gets a little bit lazy. She’s a bit of an idle workhorse at home, which is why we took her down to Newmarket and she stayed overnight, so it was a whole raceday scenario for her.”

This is not the first time the Spigot Lodge handler has headed to Newmarket with a leading Classic contender and Burke suffered 1000 Guineas heartbreak in 2018 when Laurens was denied by rank outsider Billesdon Brook.

Karl Burke is searching for his first British Classic
Karl Burke is searching for his first British Classic (Mike Egerton/PA)

Laurens would go on to provide her team with their sole Classic success in that year’s French Oaks, but Burke is now ready to open his account on home soil, as Fallen Angel is joined at the start by May Hill winner Darnation.

“She’s a different type of filly to Laurens, certainly in her work and in her run style,” continued Burke.

“Laurens was very exuberant, had a huge stride on her and used to work very well, whereas Fallen Angel is quite a lazy workhorse and saves her best for the track.

“We think we’re going to arrive there in good form. We’ve been lucky enough to win the French Oaks, we’ve been second in the English Derby and second in the 1000 Guineas with Laurens, so it would be fantastic to add a British Classic to the CV.”

Fallen Angel bypassed the season-ending Fillies’ Mile over the 1000 Guineas course and distance, with Aidan O’Brien’s Ylang Ylang taking advantage to bounce back to her best and put herself in Classic contention.

Ylang Ylang and See The Fire were involved in the finish of the Fillies' Mile
Ylang Ylang and See The Fire were involved in the finish of the Fillies’ Mile (Nigel French/PA)

However, it was Andrew Balding’s See The Fire who went into plenty of notebooks that day, having hung away her chance of victory and going down by just a length and a half in third, and she would be a popular winner for owner-breeder Jeff Smith.

Balding said: “We’ve been very happy with her. It’s obviously her first run of the year but we’ve been delighted with her so far and we keep our fingers crossed that if she brings her A game, she will be thereabouts.

“We’ve only really stepped her up the last five weeks, but she has done nothing wrong at home.

“I feel she’s right up there with the other fillies, but she’s still learning, so hopefully inexperience won’t be a problem. She’s certainly got the class to run a good race.”

It is not just Fallen Angel representing the north, with Nell Gwyn scorer Pretty Crystal supplemented into the contest for £30,000 earlier this week.

Pretty Crystal held off Dance Sequence to claim the 1000 Guineas
Pretty Crystal held off Dance Sequence to claim the Nell Gwyn (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Richard Fahey’s runner will have to prove her stamina on her first attempt at a mile, but Philip Robinson, racing manager for owner Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, feels there is no finer race for connections to roll the dice.

He said: “Why not (have a go) and I think we have every chance. She’s proved she likes and handles the track, which is always a big benefit, and I loved the way she battled when the Godolphin horse came at her in the Nell Gwyn. She’s got a big heart and that’s what you need in these races.

“She’s not guaranteed to get the mile, but you have to take your chance and I think, all being well, she will get the trip. If you are going to try, you may as well try it in a Guineas.”

Charlie Appleby’s Dance Sequence is backed to relish the extra furlong of this assignment, having chased home Pretty Crystal last month.

“She ran a lovely trial in the Nell Gwyn and naturally she is going to improve for it,” said jockey William Buick, who teamed up with the Appleby-trained Notable Speech to win Saturday’s 2000 Guineas.

“I think stepping up to a mile is really going to suit her and she finished really well last time.”

Dance Sequence is the 1000 Guineas mount of William Buick
Dance Sequence is the 1000 Guineas mount of William Buick (Nigel French/PA)

Appleby will also saddle the unbeaten Cinderella’s Dream, as Godolphin search for back-to-back race victories after Mawj struck last term, while Donnacha O’Brien will bid to join his father on the roll of honour, with Porta Fortuna not only a Royal Ascot champion but a course winner in the Group One Cheveley Park Stakes.

There is an international flavour to the race provided by Ramatuelle, with France’s Christopher Head attempting to add a British Classic to the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and Prix de Diane he captured in his homeland with Blue Rose Cen.

One of France’s leading two-year-olds last season – best known to a UK audience when pushing Vandeek all the way in the Prix Morny – she returned with a pleasing effort to finish second in the Prix Imprudence at Deauville, with her trainer hoping that will have put her spot-on for the big occasion.

“The run was important, as she’s a filly who holds a lot of energy and it will make it better to control her. She’s full of energy and really has a strong heart, which we saw last time,” said Head.

“The ground was awful, she was keen but she still finished the race, which makes us think the Guineas will suit. We’re not worried about the travel, she’s an easy filly.

“It’s a strong field. When we come to England or Ireland, we know we are going to face the best in Europe.

“Of course, we come with a certain humility and it’s not the same type of track, so we take that into account, but we feel the filly has something special that could actually suit that type of track, although you can’t be sure, as we are against the best horses and trainers in Europe.

“She’s really special because she’s really precocious. Justify is a tremendous stallion in the making. She’s special for me because she’s pretty much the only one I have made as a sprinter, following the sprint programme, so training her at three is a challenge.

“But it will show it is possible to have a big season at two and a very nice season at three. We did it with Blue Rose Cen, but it wasn’t the same profile.

“She always showed a lot in the mornings and of course everything is about the mind – and she has a strong one.”



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Fallen Angel leads 1000 Guineas contenders

Karl Burke’s Fallen Angel tops a field of 16 for the Qipco 1000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket on Sunday.

The grey is bidding to give her trainer a first British Classic success and comes into the race highly regarded after three victories as a two-year-old.

Amongst them were her racecourse debut, the Sweet Solera and the Moyglare Stud Stakes, and whilst she has not run so far this term she did please connections in a racecourse gallop at Newmarket earlier in the year.

Her jockey Danny Tudhope is searching for his first Classic and said: “Group One wins are hard to come by. I think I’ve had 10 or 11 of them, but a Classic would be the icing on the cake. I’ve never come close in one, but I’ve mainly ridden outsiders and Fallen Angel would be my biggest chance by far.”

Aidan O’Brien has just the one runner declared in Ylang Ylang, third in the Rockfel last year and the winner of the Fillies’ Mile over course and distance on her final start last term.

Godolphin have two fillies on the list, both trained by Charlie Appleby, with Nell Gwyn runner-up Dance Sequence joined by the unbeaten Cinderella’s Dream.

Appleby told British Champions Series of his two runners: “Dance Sequence had a nice trial in the Nell Gwyn, where she still showed her rawness. With the step up to a mile and the experience she gained there I’m very confident she’s going to be running a big race.

“Cinderella’s Dream is four from four and gave us some entertainment at Meydan in the winter, where William (Buick) had to take his feet out of the irons for half of the race but she showed her class in what she achieved. She’s a tough little filly and she definitely deserves to be in the line-up.”

Pretty Crystal (yellow) got the better of Dance Sequence in the Nell Gwyn
Pretty Crystal (yellow) got the better of Dance Sequence in the Nell Gwyn (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Pretty Crystal was the winner of the Nelly Gwyn for Richard Fahey and stands her ground after being supplemented, with Christopher Head’s Ramatuelle flying the flag for the French.

French trainer David Menuisier, who is based in England, is represented by Tamfana, whereas Andrew Balding saddles Fillies’ Mile third See The Fire.

The Irish contingent is completed by Donnacha O’Brien’s Porta Fortuna, with Burke also responsible for another runner in Newtown Anner Stud’s Darnation.

Richard Hannon has declared Star Style, who makes her second career start in the race, with Roger Varian set to run Elmalka and John and Thady Gosden due to saddle Cheveley Park’s Regal Jubilee.

Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Rolica, Charlie Johnston’s Sacred Angel and Richard Hughes’ Star Music complete the line up.



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Ramatuelle seeks to capitalise on Parker’s winning touch in Guineas

Christopher Head has cited the winning mentality brought by former NBA star Tony Parker as a positive influence ahead of Ramatuelle’s Qipco 1000 Guineas bid on Sunday.

The filly will have a special guest in her corner as French football World Cup winner Thierry Henry will be among Parker’s entourage on Sunday, and Head, who hails from French racing royalty himself, is looking forward to the occasion.

“Having Tony Parker in the circle is something special. He brings a sportsman’s attitude and a winning attitude and it’s really a pleasure to have him around. I can’t wait to meet Thierry Henry, too. I’m a fan of all sports,” he said.

“Generally, what I love about being a trainer is that I have access to a lot of people who have had a lot of success in life and now they have horses. I have the privilege to talk to them to find out their ingredients to success.”

Parker is a member of the Infinity 9 syndicate who part-own Ramatuelle, the Prix Robert Papin winner who will be running over a mile for the first time this weekend.

Head said: “Tony has the team in mind and knows how to push the people around him for success. It was important for me to have advice from him, he’s an athlete and I’m training athletes. He always gives very good advice. Having Ramatuelle with him is something special.”

The trainer has already proved the apple has not fallen far from the tree. His father, Freddy, is a former champion jockey who won the 1000 Guineas twice, once on the brilliant Miesque (1987) and four years earlier on Ma Biche, trained by his sister, Criquette. His grandfather Alec is a legendary figure in French racing, too.

“It is big shoes to fill, but it comes with a lot of advantage and I don’t care about the disadvantage,” he said.

Christopher Head's father, Freddy, was a champion jockey and trained the likes of Goldikova and Solow
Christopher Head’s father, Freddy, was a champion jockey and trained the likes of Goldikova and Solow (Steve Parsons/PA)

“It’s important to have your own personality as a trainer. I’m not training like my grandfather, nor my aunt, nor my father, it’s new with what we have in horse racing today but it was important to have this level of horse regarding the heritage of everything they have been teaching me from the beginning. I hope I’m not going to leave a black mark on the family. So far it is OK, I’m in the standard!

“Of course the name means so much to so many people and we have been trying to hit that expectation. When you have such a name in racing, you have to make it work. When I try something it has to work, so I keep that mentality with my horses and my team because we need to have no failure during the process.

“Of course we are working with horses, but we have to be 100 per cent sure to make the best of them.

“I had the best years of my life working for Criquette and my father, they’ve been mentors and are still helping me every day with the decisions I make. They’ve been perfect with me because they haven’t cast too much shadow on me but they are still available if I have any questions, so I want to thank them for that support and I hope to make the best out of this generation of the Head family.”

Big Rock won on Champions Day for Christopher Head
Big Rock won on Champions Day for Christopher Head (John Walton/PA)

Head has already tasted big-race glory in the UK when Big Rock put up a startling display on Champions Day at Ascot. However, the owner subsequently moved all his horses to a different trainer.

“Winning in the UK is pretty much an objective for any French trainer because it is where horse racing is the most important. The atmosphere is amazing, I’ve never felt anything like it before when Big Rock won, that was something special. If I have the horse, I will come to the UK for sure with the right horse,” said Head.

“You can’t teach a horse how to race at Newmarket before getting there but it is OK because what we see in a morning, I have a feeling the beginning of the race is the most important and looking at her I think she will be (OK) there.

“I know she’s by Justify, but I don’t know how far she will stay for now. We will just concentrate on the mile as there is a nice programme and even for sprinters, whatever happens there will be something for her but the Guineas is the main objective.”



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‘Solid chance’ for Marquand to make Guineas impact this weekend

Tom Marquand is confident Iberian and Porta Fortuna have what it takes to make their presence felt in their respective bids for Guineas glory at Newmarket this weekend.

Four years on from breaking his Classic duck aboard the Joseph O’Brien-trained Galileo Chrome in a behind-closed-doors St Leger at Doncaster, the leading rider is delighted to have a chance of “swinging the bat” in both the Qipco 2000 Guineas on Saturday and the 1000 Guineas 24 hours later.

The Charlie Hills-trained Iberian won two of his first three starts last season, most notably seeing of a pair of subsequent Group One winners in Sunway and Rosallion in the Group Two Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in September.

Having subsequently bounced back to his best with victory in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, Rosallion is widely considered the biggest threat to red-hot favourite City Of Troy in the colts’ Classic, whereas Iberian is a 25-1 shot after failing to fire behind the latter in the Dewhurst Stakes in October.

However, Marquand is happy to forgive the Lope De Vega colt one disappointing performance and believes he can outrun his odds after delighting connections in a racecourse gallop at the Craven meeting last month.

“He showed up to a good level on a couple of occasions last season and was probably most impressive in the Champagne. He’s got a good turn of foot and I galloped him on the racecourse the other day and he felt great,” he said.

“Without that last run, he probably wouldn’t be the price that he is. He’s a nice-sized horse so you’d like to think improvement will come from a winter under his belt and I’m looking forward to getting back on board him.

Iberian after galloping at Newmarket
Iberian after galloping at Newmarket (Adam Morgan/PA)

“To be perfectly honest I think he’s pretty versatile with ground. I’ve galloped him on faster ground and when I rode him in the Champagne it was quite hard work that day. I think his run in the Dewhurst was more down to the fact he’d danced a couple of big dances and it might have just caught up with him.

“I’d like to think he’ll run a big race, he’s put Rosallion, who is one of the big talking horses in the Guineas, behind him before. Obviously they thought Rosallion underperformed at Doncaster, but it still gives you a bit of confidence that the form has held up and the Champagne winner going into their three-year-old season is something to look forward to.”

In the fillies’ version, Marquand is set to partner Donnacha O’Brien’s Cheveley Park Stakes heroine Porta Fortuna for the first time.

The daughter of Caravaggio’s stamina is not assured, but she was only beaten half a length into second over a turning mile in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita on her most recent outing and Marquand feels the fact she is already a Group One winner on the track is a huge positive.

He added: “It’s a massive ride to pick up. That course form counts for plenty, as we all know, and she was only beaten half a length in America, which was obviously a great run.

“It’s great to be getting the leg-up on what is a class filly. There is a question mark about the trip, but Newmarket is a track where if you don’t have enough speed equally you’re in trouble.

“She’ll need to prove she stays over a straight mile, hopefully she can.”

Porta Fortuna (right) winning the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket
Porta Fortuna (right) winning the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket (Tim Goode/PA)

Following another profitable winter campaign in Australia, Marquand admits it would be the perfect start to the British season if he can bag one of this weekend’s Rowley Mile Classics.

“We all look at this meeting as when our really busy period starts and the two Guineas are the first real ‘biggies’ that you come across at the start of the season,” he said.

“It’s hard to find horses for races like that and I’m hoping that I’ve found two that will at least give me a solid chance of swinging the bat in both races.”



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Burke backing Fallen Angel to claim Guineas glory

Karl Burke is in bullish mood ahead of Fallen Angel’s bid for Classic glory in the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday.

Owned and bred by Steve Parkin, the daughter of Too Darn Hot won three of her four starts as a juvenile last season, rounding off her campaign with a dominant display on Irish soil in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh in September.

Connections opted for a racecourse gallop at Newmarket’s Craven meeting rather than running in a Guineas trial this spring and Burke believes his star filly is cherry-ripe ahead of her return to the Rowley Mile this weekend.

Fallen Angel returns after her gallop
Fallen Angel returns after her gallop (Adam Morgan/PA)

“Fallen Angel looks in great shape. She needed that gallop at the Craven meeting and came out of that really well and took a big step forward,” said the Spigot Lodge hander.

“Fitness-wise she needed to have a good racecourse gallop and that will have brought her on and it will just sharpen her mind a little bit as well. They go up and down the same gallops here in Middleham all winter and it’s good to get them away and concentrate their minds, I suppose.

“She had four runs last year and travelled to Ireland and she travels well, but a racecourse gallop just puts their game day head on I suppose and definitely brings them forward.

“She did a good piece of work on Friday, she’ll have a little blowout tomorrow (Tuesday) and that’ll just about be her really, we’re very happy with her.”

Fallen Angel is the 3-1 favourite with Coral, with Aidan O’Brien’s Ylang Ylang and the Charlie Appleby-trained Dance Sequence also prominent in the market at 4-1 and 5-1 respectively.

Ylang Ylang finished last of nine as a hot favourite for the Moyglare before bouncing back to land the Fillies’ Mile, while Dance Sequence was narrowly denied by Richard Fahey’s Pretty Crystal – who was on Monday supplemented for the Guineas at a cost of £30,000 – in the Nell Gwyn less than three weeks ago.

Burke added: “I think they’ve got us to beat, I really do. The formbook says they have, I know Ballydoyle will give you plenty of excuses for Ylang Ylang’s defeat in the Moyglare, but she’s got nine or 10 lengths to make up on us.

“Obviously Charlie’s filly got beat the other day and that form doesn’t look strong enough to win a Guineas. I’m sure Charlie’s horse will improve, but on all known form I think we deserve to be favourite.

“Fallen Angel is very versatile ground-wise, anything from soft to good to firm would suit – I think the ground will be perfect whatever it is.”

Darnation in action at Doncaster
Darnation in action at Doncaster (Tim Goode/PA)

Burke also left in Darnation, winner of the Group Two May Hill Stakes at Doncaster in September before finishing fifth in the Prix Marcel Boussac on Arc weekend at ParisLongchamp.

However, she appears far from certain to line up on Sunday, with Burke leaning towards a tilt at the French Guineas the following week.

“She’s a very good filly on soft and heavy ground, there’s no doubt about that, she proved that last season,” he said.

“It was very much up in the air whether we’d leave her in this morning. I spoke to connections and they were keen to leave her in and see what the weather does.

“She had a racecourse gallop after racing at Wetherby on Sunday on heavy ground and galloped very well. She’s fit and ready to go, the favourite would be to wait until the French Guineas but we’ll just play it by ear and see what happens Thursday morning with the ground.

“As we know, Newmarket can dry up very quickly and I don’t want to waste a run with her.”

Ryan Moore and Ylang Ylang after winning the Fillies' Mile at Newmarket
Ryan Moore and Ylang Ylang after winning the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket (Nigel French/PA)

The addition of Pretty Crystal leaves a total of 20 still in contention for the first fillies’ Classic of the year.

Ylang Ylang is one of three possible runners for O’Brien along with Content and Brilliant, while Dance Sequence looks set to be joined by unbeaten stablemate Cinderella’s Dream.

Donnacha O’Brien’s Porta Fortuna, Christopher Head’s potential French raider Ramatuelle and See The Fire from Andrew Balding’s yard also feature.



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Porta Fortuna on course for 1000 Guineas

Porta Fortuna is on course for the Qipco 1000 Guineas having pleased trainer Donnacha O’Brien in a recent racecourse gallop.

The Caravaggio filly won the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot in June but showed she was far from just a precocious type when winning the Cheveley Park at the end of September.

Stepped up to a mile for the first time at the Breeders’ Cup, she went down by just half a length to Chad Brown’s Hard To Justify in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

“She’s done well over the winter and we had her at Leopardstown for a day away on the Guineas Trials day and she went very well,” said O’Brien.

“We’re very happy with her and aiming for Newmarket.

“She barely won a maiden on heavy but all her best form is on quick ground, so I’d say the better the ground the better for her.

“She ran well over a mile at the Breeders’ Cup, but a Newmarket mile is different than around Santa Anita.

“We are happy to give it a go and if it doesn’t work we can always come back (in trip).”



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Attraction remains the last Classic angel of the north

It is 20 years ago since Attraction blazed a trail to 1000 Guineas glory at Newmarket – the last Classic winner trained in the north.

Trained by Mark Johnston and bred by her owner, the Duke of Roxburghe, out of his once-raced mare Flirtation and the sire Efisio, nobody could have predicted the heights she would go on to reach.

Especially when she began life as an early two-year-old at Nottingham in April, with perhaps the height of ambitions ending at Royal Ascot.

They would be achieved, via Thirsk and then the Hilary Needler at Beverley before she bolted up in the Queen Mary, winning by three lengths.

She only ran once more as a juvenile, when she was even more impressive in the Cherry Hinton, her first spin over six furlongs.

Kevin Darley with Attraction after the 1000 Guineas
Kevin Darley with Attraction after the 1000 Guineas (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Her season ended prematurely there and she was not sighted again until the Classic, via a racecourse gallop at Ripon which has almost gone down in folklore.

What made Attraction stand out from the rest – apart from her inherent ability – was her unusual action, with her legs seemingly heading off in all directions, but it certainly did not slow her down.

The man who rode her in all but the first three of her runs was Kevin Darley, who said: “I only rode her once that year before the Guineas and that was when she had her racecourse gallop at Ripon.

“When you rode her, she actually felt balanced, it just felt right, but you could obviously see one leg flicking out to the right and the other to the left.

“Looking at her, you wouldn’t have thought she’d want quick ground, but the one time she ran on soft in France, she couldn’t handle it at all, she was happy just feeling herself on a sound surface.”

Attraction (centre, green sleeves) made every yard of the running
Attraction (centre, green sleeves) made every yard of the running (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Sent off second favourite in the Guineas behind Sir Michael Stoute’s Fillies’ Mile winner Red Bloom, despite tackling a trip two furlongs further than she had attempted before, Darley was positive from the outset and never saw another rival.

“I think she caught a few by surprise in the Guineas because a lot of people thought she was all speed and that she would be vulnerable over a mile,” recalled the rider.

“Speed was her forte, there’s no doubt about that, but when she had to dig deep, she did – and that was credit to her, she never gave in really.

“When she won the Queen Mary, we weren’t thinking of her in terms of a Guineas horse, but after she won a Cherry Hinton by five lengths, we started to think maybe she could get a mile.

“Leading up to the Guineas, she’d had one or two niggly problems and when she went to Ripon, she wasn’t working with a superstar and to be fair, she didn’t work that brilliant, to be honest.

“But I think what had happened was, she was getting a bit complacent at home and that trip to Ripon set her alight. She went there with a hairy coat and didn’t look right at all but as soon as she did that gallop, the lights came on again.”

For the first half of the season against her own generation, she simply had no peers, adding an Irish Guineas and the Coronation Stakes, taking her unbeaten run to eight.

“After Newmarket, Mark sent her over for the Irish Guineas, when she was good again in beating Alexander Goldrun, who turned out very good, and then she won the Coronation,” Darley went on.

“That really suited her there (Ascot), there were concerns, as it was her first time round a bend, but it actually helped her, as she was able to fill herself up and give herself a breather – and she was able to go again. She was looking unbeatable at that point.

“She found it tougher against the older fillies in the second half of the season and finished second to Soviet Song twice either side of her run in France, but all credit to her that she ended the year with a win in the Sun Chariot.”

Kept in training at four, am ambitious trip to Hong Kong was not rewarded and she looked a fraction off her former self when beaten in the Hungerford at Newbury, so it was all credit to her again when her career ended with victory in the Matron Stakes in Ireland.

Darley said: “The year after, she ran disappointing in Hong Kong, it was probably the wrong thing to do sending her there, in hindsight.

“After that, she had her niggles but it was very nice she was able to go out with a win in Ireland, it showed what a true equine athlete she was, all she wanted to do was race and win and please you.

“She hasn’t been too bad as a broodmare either, Elarqam was a nice horse for Mark.

“She’s bang up there with the best I rode. I’ve always said ability-wise, the best I rode was High Chaparral, as he went on and became a dual Derby winner and won two Breeders’ Cup Turfs.

“She was the best I was associated with all the way through though – and without a doubt, she was the best filly I ever rode.

“I just can’t believe it is 20 years ago!”



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Porta Fortuna likely to take in Classic trial

Porta Fortuna is pencilled in to make her seasonal bow in the Ballylinch Stud ‘Priory Belle’ 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes at Leopardstown in early April.

The Caravaggio filly landed the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot last year before going on to place in both the Phoenix and Moyglare, before striking Group One gold in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.

Trainer Donnacha O’Brien then headed to America where Porta Fortuna was only narrowly denied in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, beaten just half a length by Hard To Justify.

O’Brien admits her juvenile brilliance raises some doubts ahead of her Classic campaign, with a trial run dependent on conditions suiting at Leopardstown.

In a stable tour for Attheraces.com, he said: “She was brilliant for us last season. When they are so good as two-year-olds, you can never be sure how well they’ll train on, but she seems to have wintered particularly well and her recent work has been very good.

“I’d like to run her in the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown on April 7, but if the ground is bad, I’ll be happy enough to give her a racecourse gallop instead and go straight to the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.”

Porta Fortuna is a best-priced 25-1 with Paddy Power for the 1000 Guineas on May 5.



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Shuwari ruled out of 1000 Guineas run

Ollie Sangster’s Shuwari has been ruled out of the Qipco 1000 Guineas after suffering a setback.

The daughter of New Bay advertised her potential when striking at Listed level on just her second start and went on to bank plenty of Newmarket experience when second in both the Rockfel Stakes and Fillies’ Mile in the autumn.

Those performances marked her out as a Classic contender and her handler was relishing the prospect of setting her a big-race assignment back on the Rowley Mile on the first weekend in May.

However, a small issue that will take some time to resolve has come to light, putting Shuwari’s three-year-old campaign on hold.

Shuwari (right) in action in the Fillies' Mile
Shuwari (right) in action in the Fillies’ Mile (Nigel French/PA)

“She’s had a setback and there will be no Guineas,” said Sangster.

“She was training great and had wintered well. She had grown and strengthened up and her work had been very good this spring. She was in very good shape and we were looking forward to it (the Guineas).

“I’m not sure on a timescale, we will just have to see how the rehab goes in the next few weeks and then we will have a better guide on it.”

As well as Shuwari, Per Contra made headlines for Sangster during his first season in the training ranks.

The Wathnan Racing-owned colt impressed in his first two appearances and, although slightly underwhelming in his first try in Group company, the Manton handler is keen to see how he returns at the start of his three-year-old campaign.

“He’s in good form, he’s going galloping tomorrow and Monday and then we will begin plotting a bit of a route for him,” continued Sangster.

“I think he will go up in trip this year. I don’t think he will be a big stayer but he will go up to 10 furlongs anyway. I think he is off quite a nice mark, so we will see.”



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City Of Troy heads O’Brien charge for more Guineas glory

City Of Troy tops the 49-strong list for the initial entry stage of the season’s first Classic contest, the Qipco 2000 Guineas.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt was unbeaten in three runs as a juvenile, culminating in a superb three-and-a-half-length Dewhurst victory at Newmarket in October.

He has his name on the long list to return to Headquarters on May 4, alongside stablemate Henry Longfellow – also unbeaten and the winner of the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes.

Richard Hannon’s Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere champion Rosallion features, as does the well-regarded Godolphin colt Ancient Wisdom, winner of the Futurity Trophy for Charlie Appleby.

Owen Burrows is represented by Shadwell’s Alyanaabi, second to City Of Troy in the Dewhurst and the winner of the Tattersalls Stakes, plus Futurity Trophy fourth Deira Mile.

Coolmore and O’Brien also have the leading fancy in the 1000 Guineas with Opera Singer, a Justify filly last seen winning the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp. Ylang Ylang, winner of the Fillies’ Mile, is another for Ballydoyle.

Karl Burke’s Fallen Angel won both the Sweet Solera and the Moyglare Stud Stakes last season and is another exciting prospect put forward to head to the Rowley Mile on May 5.



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Classic ambitions at a mile for star filly Ramatuelle this season

Christopher Head has raised the possibility of Ramatuelle running in the Qipco 1000 Guineas, as connections seek to plot a mile campaign this summer.

Co-owned by former NBA star Tony Parker, Ramatuelle sports black and silver silks based on his former championship-winning team the San Antonio Spurs and made a serious impression on course at two.

The high-class daughter of Justify won three of her five appearances as a juvenile, including the Group Two Prix Robert Papin, before finishing her campaign going down by the barest of margins to star colt Vandeek in the Prix Morny.

Plans for Ramatuelle’s early-season target are still to be finalised and as well as a possible raid on Newmarket, she holds an entry for the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Pouliches the trainer won with Blue Rose Cen in 2023.

But Head will begin testing her Classic credentials at Deauville on April 9 and having seen dual Classic-winning filly Blue Rose Cen switched to Maurizio Guarnieri earlier this year, will be hoping Ramatuelle can fill the void and become another household name for his Chantilly operation.

He said: “Ramatuelle has been a tremendous filly for us as a two-year-old and we are now preparing her for pretty much the mile programme in France, but not only in France, in the UK too.

“We’re looking all over Europe to make the best programme for her as a three-year-old. It (Newmarket) is of course a possibility, but at the end of the day her owner will decide where she will run and of course there is a possibility she could go for that race.

“She’s going to go to the Prix Imprudence and then from there we will see where we go. To be a successful miler is the main objective this year.

“I think Ramatuelle is a really nice filly and Justify has proven he can sire very versatile horses. I’m very happy to have her at three and can’t wait to see what she is going to do for us in the mile races this year.”

Owners Yeguada Centurion may have switched Blue Rose Cen, but their Group One-winning colt Big Rock remains in Head’s care and is being geared up for another enterprising programme.

Big Rock after winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot
Big Rock after winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot (John Walton/PA)

He was last seen recording a brilliant victory from the front in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day and his handler is excited by the possibility of returning to the UK in search of further riches during the 2024 season.

“Big Rock is brilliant and has done very well over the winter,” continued Head.

“He will have a nice programme in Europe and we will be able to come over to the UK again.

“I will speak with the owners before saying anything about where he is going to start, but don’t worry the horse is doing very well and we’re very happy with his training. We can’t wait to see him back on track.”



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Sangster dreaming of Guineas glory with Shuwari

Shuwari will be pointed towards the Qipco 1000 Guineas, with Ollie Sangster delighted to have unearthed a Classic contender in his first season in the training ranks.

The daughter of New Bay has been the standout performer of Sangster’s Manton-based string during the early stages of his career and capped a fine juvenile campaign by finishing second to Aidan O’Brien’s Ylang Ylang in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.

Shuwari fell victim to the winner’s superior stamina in the closing stages of that Group One event but Sangster was more than happy to come so close to registering a first top-table success as attentions turn to next season.

Sangster said: “It was great and we were delighted. If you could have told me at the start of the season that I would have a horse contesting a Group One, let alone finishing second, I would have been thrilled.

“Obviously, we all want to win and to come so close was tough, but she ran fantastically and gives us a lot to look forward to next year.

“I see us being a miler and I suspect the winner will probably end up getting a bit further. I think in the last 50 yards, Shuwari just got outstayed really.

“You dream to have a horse like this any year, so for one to come along now is just great.”

Shuwari (right) had to settle for second in the Fillies' Mile
Shuwari (right) had to settle for second in the Fillies’ Mile (Nigel French/PA)

Another trip to Newmarket for the 1000 Guineas is now firmly on the radar and having had the honour of being the young handler’s first runner in a Group One, she could be his first in one of racing’s crown jewel events when she returns next spring.

However, her route back to the Rowley Mile is still to be finalised, with Newbury’s Fred Darling looking the most likely destination if an early-season tune-up is required.

Sangster added: “Touch wood she can stay healthy through the winter and the spring and hopefully that (the 1000 Guineas) will be on our agenda.

“She’s not a filly I feel I would need to (run before) and she’s kind of straightforward to train, but if I did, I suspect I would probably go for the Fred Darling.

“Newbury is our local track and she also has the course experience already, so I wouldn’t feel the need to go back to Newmarket probably. But equally she could easily go straight there.”

Sangster is also retaining plenty of faith in Per Contra, who after two eye-catching victories in minor events, finished fifth when upped in class for the Autumn Stakes.

“I thought he ran a nice enough race,” continued the trainer.

Trainer Ollie Sangster has high hopes for both Shuwari and Per Contra
Trainer Ollie Sangster has high hopes for both Shuwari and Per Contra (Simon Marper/PA)

“Obviously, it was a big step up in class and completely different tempo to what he has had before. In reality, it was sort of his first proper race and his first two races have been fairly non-events where he has won them straightforward.

“He will have learned a lot and I kind of wish he had just got into the race a bit earlier. James (Doyle, jockey) kind of had the revs up the whole way. He made a nice mid-race move and then he just got tired.

“If he had got a tow into the race, he may have finished a bit closer, but in reality, he ran a nice race and hopefully he will have learned a lot for next season.

“He’s a big horse and a horse for next year. I suspect a mile will be his minimum – a mile, mile and a quarter. He’s a big horse and should do very well from two to three over the winter.”



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Bin Suroor in no rush with sidelined Mawj

Classic-winning filly Mawj will remain sidelined for the time being after missing her intended clash with Tahiyra in the Coronation Stakes due to a dirty scope.

The Saeed bin Suroor-trained three-year-old defeated Tahirya in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, before Dermot Weld’s star took the Irish equivalent at the Curragh.

Tahiyra landed Friday’s Coronation Stakes with a comfortable length to spare over Remarquee at Royal Ascot, with Bin Suroor an interested bystander.

He said: “It was a good performance from the winner. She did it impressively.

“It was a shame Mawj could not run, but we are not going to force her to run when she is not well.

“She will take a break now and have some time to recover.

“She has a bad infection in her chest and once she is ready, we will start her work again. Once she starts her work, then we will have a look at the options.”

Mawj wintered in Dubai and the daughter of Exceed And Excel won both the seven-furlong Jumeirah Fillies Classic and mile Fillies Guineas before taking the Newmarket Classic by half a length on her return to Britain, her fifth win in eight starts.

Saeed bin Suroor (left) and jockey Oisin Murphy (right) with Mawj after their Classic success
Saeed bin Suroor (left) and jockey Oisin Murphy (right) with Mawj after their Classic success (David Davies/PA)

The popular Godolphin handler says she is likely to return to Dubai at the end of her Classic season, but added: “We will have a race for her before she leaves for Dubai. Once she starts work, then we will find a race for her. It could be in the UK or abroad.”

Though Bin Suroor saddled Live Your Dream to finish third in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes, he was not too disappointed after missing the target at this year’s Royal meeting.

He said: “Ascot was good. It is the best meeting in the world. The horses that run there over the five days, they are the best.

“There are millions and millions of people worldwide watching these races. It is royal racing – it is great. There is no other meeting like it in the world.”

Bin Suroor hopes that he will make his mark at Newmarket’s July meeting and added: “We have some for that meeting, but I hope the ground won’t be too firm.”



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