If there is one Classic above all other that Aidan O’Brien finds it ‘hard’ to win then it is the 1000 Guineas – after all, he has won it ‘only’ four times this century whereas he has won each of the other Classics at least five times.
Joking aside, however, the Ballydoyle trainer has won the last two runnings with Minding and Winter and if the market is to believed he will likely make it three in a row with Happily, who like her predecessors is a daughter of Galileo.
Winter was a late-comer to the 1000 Guineas picture having spent her first season with David Wachman, but Happily has a fair bit in common with Minding having won the Moyglare Stud Stakes as a youngster before following up with another win in Group 1 company, in her case in the Jean-Luc Lagardere. Happily’s defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf can be ignored given the position she found herself in and given she has the best timefigure in the field (113) – earned when short-heading stable-companion Magical in the Moyglare Stud – her credentials under Ryan Moore, who will have flown back having ridden in America the day before, look robust in what looks an ordinary renewal.
The filly with the next best timefigure (111) is Laurens who will bid to give the North their first win in the race since Attraction won for Mark Johnston in 2004. Laurens is a very different type to sprinting juvenile Attraction having already won over the trip in the May Hill Stakes and the Fillies’ Mile (where she had Magical back in fourth). As with Happily her credentials are hard to fault and she won first time out last year.
The only other filly in the field with a timefigure in excess of 105 is Madeline who posted 108 when third behind Clemmie in the Cheveley Park - she too was well held at the Breeders’ Cup. Being by Kodiac and with stamina to prove beyond six furlongs she is not as easy to fancy as her stable-companion Altyn Orda. The Nell Gwyn runner-up needs more of a test than she got when no match for Soliloquy on her reappearance and posted a 104 figure when winning the Oh So Sharp Stakes last year (I Can Fly third).
The aforementioned Soliloquy won the Nell Gwyn in some style (after which she was supplemented for the Guineas), but she was able to control the race in which several disappointed in from the front, and a timefigure of 93 – boosted by a sectional upgrade of 4lb – suggests that, promising as she is, she still has a fair bit of improvement to find. Nonetheless William Buick has elected to ride her instead of stable-companion Wild Illusion and that decision has to be respected.
A winner of two of her three races, Wild Illusion ended her first season with a win in the Prix Marcel Boussac on the same card as the Jean-Luc Lagardere, and though Timeform don’t return timefigures from France as yet, a comparison of the two performances on the clock reflects very well on Wild Illusion. The two races were run at a similar tempo until 400m out from which point the Boussac runners ran nearly a second faster; Wild Illusion was ridden closer to the pace than Happily, but even after allowing for that comes out the better in a head-to-head comparison. As a proven Group 1 winner at the trip, and with the second horse in the Boussac Polydream being the only filly to have lowered Lauren’s colours so far, the widely available 8-1 looks far too big.
Impressive Newbury maiden winner Lah Ti Dar looks sure to go off at short odds for the Pretty Polly Stakes. The form of her debut win hasn’t been tested as yet but a timefigure of 89 is a smart for a debutante, and had we been able to return a sectional upgrade from two furlongs out it would have been significantly greater than the 3lb she earned from four furlongs out. She won’t have things all her own way, however, with the equally impressive Newmarket maiden winner Qazyna having recorded one of the highest upgrades at the Craven meeting. The Frankel filly might be the one to side with if pace isn’t a strong one, but the race doesn’t appeal for betting purposes.
Back Wild Illusion in the 1000 Guineas