Saturday’s 2000 Guineas was an intriguing and open renewal, rather than a coronation for a perceived superstar, with none of the Aidan O'Brien-trained first four home in the Dewhurst in the field. They weren’t required, though, as the Racing Post Trophy winner Saxon Warrior (up 6 lb to 126p) gained a decisive victory on his return, potentially an above-average winner of what appears just an up-to-standard renewal.
The field raced in three groups initially, most ending up in the centre by the finish, though the third Masar (unchanged on 123), who switched only late, and fifth Roaring Lion (unchanged on 120), who went his own way, may be better than the result after racing away from the centre.
Saxon Warrior shows he still has the gears for a mile as the Racing Post Trophy winner makes it Guineas No.9 for Aidan O’Brien.— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) May 5, 2018
Japanese sire Deep Impact on the #2000Guineas roll of honour! pic.twitter.com/k3yjt8bkqk
Saxon Warrior maintained his unbeaten record after six months off with a smooth and clearcut success, despite not looking fully wound up beforehand, his performance auguring really well for the summer ahead, with the clear prospect that he could develop into a top-class colt over middle distances, his pedigree firmly suggesting he ought to be better over further than a mile.
He's a short-priced favourite for the Derby and although something to challenge him may emerge from the trials in the next couple of weeks, he has better credentials than most Guineas winners to follow up with a second classic success at Epsom.
The big-priced runner-up Tip Two Win (up 17 lb to 122) excelled himself up in grade, following two good paydays in Doha with another much closer to home. He's likely to be kept at a mile, and with the winner, third and possibly others of the principals heading elsewhere, he's likely to hold leading form claims in the St James's Palace.
Masar ran well upped in grade, just about matching the form he showed in the Craven despite things not going as perfectly for him as on that occasion. He's reportedly being aimed at the Derby, his pedigree offering a fair amount of hope that he will stay the significantly longer trip.
Elarqam’s (up 8 lb to 120p) relative lack of experience was his undoing, this a good platform on which to build, whether kept at around a mile or stepped up in trip, while Roaring Lion put his poor run in the Craven firmly behind him, running close to the level that had seen him make a race of it with Saxon Warrior at Doncaster. He might have done even better had he been with the main group in the closing stages, though that he ended up isolated was as much his doing as his jockey's; he has the ability to win a good race, whether he will apply himself well enough to do so is the doubt.
An outcome to the first fillies classic that seemed as much of a shock to the trainer as it clearly was to everyone else, though there is no reason not to accept the result at face value, the winner unexposed at the trip and coping well with firmer ground. The result made plenty of sense otherwise, the pace a sound one and the form looking that of an average Guineas, a little below the most recent runnings, but on a par with plenty this century, including the stable's last winner of this race, Sky Lantern.
😲Wow! 66-1 Billesdon Brook wins the QIPCO 1000 Guineas 🙌🏇 pic.twitter.com/2saBFZ5sW8— ITV Racing (@itvracing) May 6, 2018
Billesdon Brook (up 19 lb to 118) clearly found massive improvement from her reappearance, travelling well, making rapid headway three furlongs out and keeping on well after leading two out. This was her only fancy entry, so she will need supplementing for the Coronation Stakes, for example, but she shouldn't be underestimated just because she was a big price here.
Laurens (unchanged on 112) looks the type to do well this term and ran a cracking first race of the campaign after seven months off, excuses being made for her afterwards about the trip and the ground, though really none were needed. She is likely to be suited by further than 1m, the Prix de Diane an option next.
Happily (unchanged on 116) looked about the form pick on her win in the Lagardere and was well backed to give her trainer yet another classic, but she couldn't quite match that form. She will be well suited by further than a mile and while she's entered in everything and may well turn up in the Irish Guineas, she could yet be an Oaks filly.
Other big races at Newmarket
The Palace House looked a substandard renewal of this Group 3 sprint, however Mabs Cross (up 2 lb to 114) has come a long way in a relatively short time, barely a year since she made her debut, and she progressed again. She's entered in the King's Stand and clearly deserves the chance at that sort of target, though still more is likely to be required.
Defoe (up 2 lb to 124) looked a class better than his Jockey Club rivals on paper and proved so in practice, not having to improve much to score decisively, though the manner of victory was most taking as he overhauled the enterprisingly-ridden runner-up Red Verdon (remains on 115). The style of the winning performance promised much for tougher tasks ahead in Group 1 company.
The Newmarket Stakes has a rich recent history, Noble Mission, Hawkbill and, last year, Permian among the winners in the last decade. Though the form this year was no more than that of an average renewal, the potential amongst the principals is significant, the winner Key Victory (up 6 lb to 114p) in particular looking destined for much better things.
A treble on the day for William Buick as Key Victory holds on from Godolphin stable companion Old Persian in the Havana Gold Newmarket Stakes.— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) May 5, 2018
Charlie Appleby. Is. On. Fire 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ZYHcZsHVLS
He overcame the rise in class in most taking fashion, still very green and not really handling the track (despite winning here on debut), but picking up really well once through the Dip. He's an exciting prospect, so it was no surprise that lofty targets were mentioned afterwards, with the Prix du Jockey Club a possible fast track to Group 1 level.
The potential is still there with runner-up Old Persian (now 110p), particularly for when he goes up further in distance, while Highbrow (up 18 lb to 105p) showed much improved form on his turf debut, still in need of the experience and acquitting himself very well in the circumstances. He’s from the first crop of Intello whose progeny will surely improve well with time and distance.
Wuheida (up 2 lb to 122), supplemented for Sunday’s Dahlia Stakes, showed herself every bit as good as she was last year, auguring well for tougher tasks ahead, though her task here was made easier by neither of the next two in the market handling the track.
The Pretty Polly Stakes can vary in standard and potential of the winners a fair bit, but there have been two future winners of the Oaks, Talent and Taghrooda, successful in the last decade and Lah Ti Dar (up to 114p from 97P) looks a leading candidate to be a third. Her performance was above standard for the race and she is now favourite for the Oaks, set to be suited by the step up in trip and surely having the improvement in her to give a really good account.