‘I Believe I can Fly’ was a hit single for R Kelly in 1996, a year in which other significant events included the Spice Girls releasing their debut song ‘Wannabe’, and Terry Venables’ England side reaching the semi-finals of the European Championships.
England have not been that far in a major tournament since, and their hopes of a positive World Cup showing in Russia rely on Gareth Southgate, the man whose tame penalty silenced Frank Skinner and David Baddiel all those years ago. It just goes to show how fleeting sporting success can be – unless of course, your name is Aidan O’Brien.
O’Brien took over the reins at Ballydoyle in that same year, 1996, and has smashed any number of records in the intervening period, including that for the number of Group 1 winners in a calendar year in 2017, perhaps the best season of his training career to date.
Happily provided O’Brien with two of his 28 wins at the highest level last term and is a hot favourite to triumph again in Sunday’s 1000 Guineas (3.35pm) at Newmarket, but it could pay to side with her R Kelly-inspired stablemate I Can Fly (currently 7/1) instead. She has a similar profile to last year’s winner Winter, and very much caught the eye when third on her return at Leopardstown last month.
Ryan Moore will have roughly 4000 miles to FLY and just 12 hours in which to do it if he is to make the opening race at 1.50pm – but win, lose or draw for Mendellsohn in the Kentucky Derby – we’re Adamant the jet-lag will be worthwhile. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Adamant has seemingly had his problems, only making it to the track four times in his career, but there was plenty to like about his latest second at Newbury, and the longer trip here is expected to suit.
Wuheida is difficult to oppose despite her Group 1 penalty in the Dahlia Stakes at 2.20pm. She produced a career best when last seen winning at the Breeders’ Cup, and it will be interesting to see what she can do with a clear run this year (missed first half of 2017 due to injury), with her entries later in the season including the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Finally, Jamie Spencer’s best chance of Guineas glory has probably passed him by, having finished an unlucky second on Hawk Wing in the 2002 renewal of the colts’ Classic, but he should at least get on the scoresheet in the six-furlong handicap at 2.55pm. His mount Mr Lupton shaped as if retaining all of his ability when second in a listed race at Doncaster last time, and would appear to hold obvious claims from a mark 3 lb lower than when winning this race 12 months ago.
Odds correct at time of posting