Alan Titchmarsh, Charlie Dimmock, Tommy (the big guy), Monty Don, Countryfile, Spring Watch. Your boys took one hell of a beating!”
It’s probably unlikely that Sunday’s big-race caller will imitate Bjørge Lillelien, the Norwegian football commentator who famously celebrated Norway’s 2-1 win over England in 1981 with a lambasting of everything from Lord Nelson to Lady Di. However, it’s more than likely that flower power will rule the 1,000 Guineas.
Aidan O’Brien trained the first three home in last season’s 1,000 Guineas and it turned out that the result of the race was already in the form-book, being a carbon copy of the outcome of the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh just over six months earlier.
Then, Minding had beaten her stable-companions Ballydoyle and Alice Springs into second and third. As it happens, the first three home in the latest Moyglare Stud Stakes are also all set to re-oppose in this weekend’s race.
O’Brien will be hoping that result isn’t replicated on Sunday because the more fancied Hydrangea and Rhododendron were upset by 25/1 Intricately. A filly trained and ridden by his sons Joseph and Donnacha.
That was a muddling renewal of the Moyglare and a clearer picture of the pecking order among the Ballydoyle fillies took shape in the Fillies’ Mile last October.
Rhododendron turned the tables on Hydrangea in no uncertain terms, appearing to relish the extra furlong and staying on strongly up the hill, with another six lengths back to Urban Fox in third.
A ‘Dab’ hyand
John Gosden is seeking a second win in the fillies’ Classic after Lahan in 2000. He’s proven himself a ‘dab’ hand with his three-year-old fillies this spring, winning both the main domestic trials with the once-raced Daban in the Nell Gwyn Stakes and the more experienced Dabyah in the Fred Darling.
Daban, who was chased home at Newmarket by Unforgetable Filly and Poet’s Vanity, looks one of the main threats to the Ballydoyle brigade.
Meanwhile, the first and third from the Lowther, Queen Kindly and Fair Eva, are set to re-oppose when both will be trying a mile for the first time.
Timeform verdict: Rhododendron to win the 1,000 Guineas.
Sunday’s TV races:
ITV’s coverage starts with a HQ handicap at 1.50pm, with recent Kempton winner Big Country considered one of the biggest improvers this season. A 10 lb higher mark shouldn’t be enough to stop him.
The 80’s band Big Country’s only UK number 1 album was called Steeltown, named after the Scottish town of Corby, and there’s a rare trip for the TV cameras to Hamilton.
The returning Dream of Dreams looks the one to beat in the 2.05pm north of the border, while the the feeling is that Kensington Star can keep on improving in the 2.35pm handicap that looks a tricky race to call.
A fair price
Back at Newmarket, the Dahlia Stakes (2.20pm) looks tough. There’s not much between several of these on Timeform ratings and Nezwaah has the potential to be a better filly this year. On her first start back she might struggle to cope with a race-fit Muffri’ha, who’ll be suited by the return to this sort of trip.
Eastern Impact failed to acclimatise to Dubai but looked unlucky not to win on his all-weather debut on his return to the UK at Wolverhampton in March.
He looks a fair price to deliver in the 2.55pm handicap which precedes the 1,000 Guineas.