Sky Lantern won the 1000 Guineas in 2013 and her daughter Snow Lantern (100P from 95P) underlined her classic credentials with an impressive defeat of some well-bred and highly regarded colts at Newbury on Sunday. She is certainly bred for the job – she is by 2000 Guineas winner Frankel – and was cut to 8/1 (from 20/1) for the 1000 Guineas after readily seeing off her rivals at Newbury, catching the eye with how she tanked along before quickening a length and three-quarters clear.
Snow Lantern is rated a stone shy of the leading three-year-old filly Pretty Gorgeous (114p) but she only had one run as a juvenile, so has had limited opportunity to post a big figure, and she looks like a top-notch prospect, well worth her place in the Guineas line-up (connections have yet to commit to running).
Snow Lantern was chased home by Derab (98p from 93p), a half-brother to Enable, and he shaped with plenty of promise, racing a bit keenly but sticking to his task well.
It was an excellent day for Snow Lantern's trainer Richard Hannon who also struck with Chindit (remains on 115) in the Greenham Stakes, a noted trial for the 2000 Guineas, and the progressive Nugget (111p from 104p) in the Spring Cup.
Chindit didn't need to improve on the form he displayed in the Champagne Stakes as a two-year-old, but his strength at the finish over seven furlongs was encouraging with the Guineas in mind. Hannon's classic winners Night of Thunder and Billesdon Brook both stepped up appreciably on the form they had shown in their trials and Chindit – whose sole defeat came in the Dewhurst on the most testing ground he has encountered – looks a solid contender in an open renewal. He is rated 6 lb lower than St Mark's Basilica (121p), who heads the ratings based on his success in the Dewhurst.
The market for the 2000 Guineas, however, is headed by One Ruler (113), who was cut for the first classic of the season last week based on the exploits of his stablemates at Charlie Appleby's yard. One Ruler, who was an impressive winner of the Autumn Stakes over the same course and distance as the 2000 Guineas last season, is seemingly regarded as the number one three-year-old colt at Appleby's yard, where there is plenty of strength in depth.
Appleby was dominant at Newmarket last week, sending out the one-two in the Feilden Stakes and the Craven Stakes.
Highland Avenue (114p), the first foal of Group 1 winner Lumiere, failed to meet expectations on debut at Kempton in December (he was beaten at 4/1-on) but he has progressed sharply since and won the listed Feilden Stakes with authority, passing the post a length and a quarter clear of Secret Protector (110p from 103p). Secret Protector stayed on well from an unpromising position and will be better when stepping up in trip, but Highland Avenue will have no issue dropping back a furlong to a mile. His rating and the sharp upward curve he is following means he would be entitled to plenty of respect if taking his chance in the 2000 Guineas, but his price on the Betfair Exchange suggests that may be unlikely.
It did not look like a strong edition of the Craven and the winning time was nothing out of the ordinary, but Master of The Seas (116 from 113) did well to get up after La Barrosa (114 from 109p) secured first run. Master of The Seas is among a host of horses rated in the mid-110s and is clearly a credible Guineas contender, for all he came up short against the Irish in the National Stakes last season and needs to take another step forward.
Other notable performances in the colts' division were posted by Mutasaabeq (115p from 95p), who is worth supplementing for the 2000 Guineas after bolting up in a conditions race at Newmarket, Tactical (112 from 105), who did well to overcome trouble in running in the Free Handicap, and Hurricane Lane (104p from 92p), who showed a nice attitude to win a conditions race at Newbury.
The bare form of Mutasaabeq's success is flimsy as he was left with little to beat after the favourite flopped, but time analysis leaves little doubt that he produced a sparkling performance. His dam, Ghanaati, won the 1000 Guineas in 2009.
Tactical's improvement had stalled after winning the Windsor Castle and July Stakes during his two-year-old campaign, but he took a step forward on his reappearance in the Free Handicap, quickening up nicely when finally getting the gap. He won with more in hand than a winning margin of a neck would suggest and looks an obvious type for the Jersey at Royal Ascot, rather than a Guineas, as he is untried over a mile.
Tactical beat Appleby's Naval Crown (112 from 105) but it was one of few reverses for the trainer during the week. Appleby has ridiculous strength in depth in the mile division, though he also has a nice stayer on his hands with Hurricane Lane. Hurricane Lane has plenty of stamina in his pedigree so it is to his credit that he managed to win a steadily-run mile-and-a-quarter conditions event on good ground on his reappearance. Granted, he was well positioned at the head of affairs but the test of speed wouldn't have suited and he showed an excellent attitude to assert inside the final furlong having been headed. He is unbeaten after two starts and will have more to offer when faced with a stiffer test of stamina.
Snow Lantern was the big market mover in the fillies' division, though Sacred (107 from 104) and Alcohol Free (remains on 110) also posted notable efforts, winning the Nell Gwyn and Fred Darling, respectively.
Sacred developed a worrying habit of getting beat after trading at short odds in running during her two-year-old campaign, but she saw things out well on her first start over seven furlongs, the application of a tongue tie perhaps helping. She has a mixed pedigree and the dam's side offers hope that she will stay a mile, but in the 1000 Guineas she will meet rivals with better form and some exciting unexposed fillies, so others are preferred.
It's a similar story for Alcohol Free, who scrambled home in the Fred Darling on her first start over seven furlongs without needing to run up to the form that had seen her win the Cheveley Park. The extra furlong in the Guineas is a concern.
It was a good week for William Haggas with his older horses. The gutsy Addeybb (remains on 129) bagged a fourth top-level success when retaining his Queen Elizabeth II Stakes crown at Randwick in Australia, benefiting from another excellent ride by Tom Marquand, whose strength in the saddle stood out.
Haggas might also be dreaming of Group 1 glory with My Oberon (122p) and Al Aasy (121+). My Oberon could be aimed at the Lockinge after brushing aside his rivals in the Earl of Sefton, while Al Aasy forged clear in the John Porter to set up a crack at the Coronation Cup. Both need to improve again but are well-bred, in excellent hands and on the up.
There were any number of promising efforts posted in novice or maiden company last week, with one of the most significant put up by Wordsworth (100p from 89p), who looks set to develop into a smart middle-distance performer. He is a brother to St Leger winner Kew Gardens and had shaped with promise when runner-up to Derby favourite High Definition on his only start as a juvenile. He impressed with how well he stuck to his task in a mile-and-a-quarter maiden at the Curragh on Saturday and will be of interest in a Derby trial.