What’s a stone between friends? While it may make a big difference when borrowing jeans for a night out, it’s not insurmountable when it comes to Timeform ratings, especially when dealing with horses that are still improving.
That’s the feeling about Mildenberger, who won at Newmarket in 2018 and looked very rusty when seventh in a handicap at Epsom last time, having been slowly away (reportedly slipped leaving stalls). Normally ridden prominently, Mildenberger – named after a German heavyweight boxer – can land a knockout blow from the front in the Jockey Club Stakes (14:55), all at a double-figure price.
Will he stay or won’t he? Not Eden Hazard for once, but Ten Sovereigns, the speedy favourite for the 2000 Guineas at 15:35. He looked a fearsome sprinter when dominating three six-furlong contests last season, culminating in a win in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.
His pedigree gives hope that he will stay this trip, though, his dam being a winner over a mile and a quarter and several progeny of No Nay Never showing surprising reserves of stamina.
At a bigger price, Great Scot, who has a bit of work to do with Magna Grecia on their Futurity Stakes run last season, should be suited by a true gallop here and he looks overpriced at around 20/1, certainly for those looking for an each-way bet (Paddy Power are paying five places instead of four on this race).
Though both his sire and dam were sprinters, Brian Epstein (17:20) is related to several horses who stayed well, including Falkirk and Bedouin, each of whom won at up to a mile and a quarter. Though both of those horses were by sires with more stamina than Dark Angel, Brian Epstein has clearly inherited plenty of staying power from somewhere, already a winner over a mile as a two-year-old, though it’s nowhere near as suspicious as my son who was conceived when we had a Spanish lodger living with us and who is surprisingly adept with castanets.
Unlike Santi Cazorla Miguel Jimenez Doggett, Brian Epstein looks the type to go on improving, especially with a recent run under his belt, and he’s one of a Fab Four bets in this article.
On Sunday, the 1000 Guineas takes centre stage at 15:35. It took a while for any trainer to dominate the race like Sir Henry Cecil did, but Aidan O’Brien has got to grips with it in recent years and big runs are expected from his quartet, as well as son Joseph’s Iridessa. Preference, though, is for Qabala, who made a bigger impression than that scene in Basic Instinct on a 13-year-old when showing a fine turn of foot in the Nell Gwyn here last time. If she improves again (as Timeform expect) for the step up to a mile, then she will take some stopping for a red-hot Roger Varian team. Now where’s that VHS…