MONTATHAM (4.10) didn't totally impress with his attitude towards the end of last season but a gelding operation could see him in a different light at Newmarket.
William Haggas despatched the grey to Yorkshire to bag a couple of novice events early in his campaign but Montatham failed to add to that tally when sent handicapping. He stayed on steadily into second spot at Musselburgh without threatening Blown By Wind but in the belief that there is more to come this season, Montatham can resume winning ways.
Haggas is always to be feared at his home track and NAHAARR (4.45) is taken to reverse last season's form with chief market rival Qaysar. Nahaarr mopped up his first four starts before running a bit flat on his final start at HQ in August. Well rested since, he can kick off the new campaign in style.
Newmarket 3.35 (2000 Guineas)
PINATUBO (3.35) carried all before him last year and sets the bar high in the Qipco 2000 Guineas.
Charlie Appleby has been making all the right noises when discussing Pinatubo’s preparation and the Godolphin colt can extend his unbeaten sequence to seven. Pinatubo was held up in the Dewhurst Stakes here over seven furlongs before sweeping through to catch today’s chief market rival Arizona, the margin being two lengths at the line. He should have no trouble staying this extra furlong.
Aidan O’Brien saddles four and there has been good support for Arizona, reportedly on the back of a scintillating home gallop. Jockey bookings point to him being the Ballydoyle No 1 but Ryan Moore has got it wrong several times in the past and it would be reckless to dismiss the prospects of Frankie Dettori’s mount Witchita, even though the colt is well held by Pinatubo on previous form.
The other horse to garner significant favour in the betting is Kameko, winner of the Vertem Futurity Stakes at Newcastle. Oisin Murphy has been singing his praises and Kameko impressed in a recent racecourse gallop at Kempton.
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TEREBELLUM (2.25) gets the nod over Magic Lilly in the Group 2 Dahlia Fillies’ Stakes.
My selection, trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori, is sure to prove popular. After winning at Deauville she wasn’t disgraced in finishing fifth in the Group 1 Prix de L’Opera at Longchamp on Arc weekend. Terebellum would prefer some cut underfoot. Charlie Appleby’s Magic Lily was last seen chasing home Barney Roy in Meydan and looks sure to be in the mix.
Gosden has high hopes that WALDKONIG (3.00) will acquit himself well in the Investec Derby and this Listed contest should be the perfect stepping stone to Epsom.
His colt created a huge impression when waltzing home by nine lengths at Wolverhampton in early December and this second public appearance will prove valuable experience. Stablemate Mishriff ploughed through the Nottingham mud to score at Nottingham last November before taking the runner-up prize in the inaugural Saudi Arabia Derby Cup on dirt.
Al Assy ran third at HQ in October and the second home that day, Galsworthy, won easily at Kempton earlier this week. He is reported to be working sharply on the home gallops and with that formline working out well, Al Assy is a solid ew alternative.
Gosden and stable jockey Rab Havlin boast a terrific strike-rate at Newcastle and lightly-raced DAARIK (2.05) is capable of landing the seven-furlong handicap. A previous course winner over six furlongs, Daarik was edged out by Fox Power in a Listed contest over a mile here last November and this intermediate trip is ideal.