The first fillies’ Classic of 2021 features in our latest ITV racing tips, with seven Sunday selections put forward from Newmarket, Salisbury and Hamilton.
Ashley Iveson provides the expert picks for armchair punters, with the feature event being a fascinating Qipco 1000 Guineas at headquarters.
1.50 Newmarket – ZABEEL CHAMPION
Has improved his win ratio to five victories from 10 races with a Ripon double and the handicapper may not have quite caught up with him yet.
2.05 Salisbury – GUMBALL
The Philip Hobbs-trained grey finished a fair fourth when last seen on the level at Sandown in August before pursuing a career over fences.
While he came up short against some of the very best novice chasers around, he managed a win at Uttoxeter and picked up decent prize-money for finishing third behind the brilliant Shishkin in Grade One company at Aintree last time out.
Gumball will not lack assistance from the saddle for his switch of codes, with Hollie Doyle taking the ride, and a bold bid is anticipated in our ITV racing tips.
2.25 Newmarket – SEA KARATS
The daughter of Sea The Stars is a full-sister to exciting stablemate Al Aasy, who made a hugely impressive start to his campaign in the Group Three John Porter at Newbury a couple of weeks ago.
Sea Karats was backed as if defeat was out of the question on her racecourse debut at the same track two days earlier.
While odds-on backers ultimately had their fingers burnt, with the three-year-old finishing a narrowly beaten third, she may well have come out on top with a clear run and remains a filly of considerable potential.
Trainer William Haggas could have targeted another maiden, but instead tests the water at Listed level in the Pretty Polly Stakes, presumably in the hope she can establish herself as an Oaks contender.
2.40 Hamilton – GREAT ESTEEM
Has been very consistent on the all-weather, posting form figures of 13213, and this lightly-raced son of Dubawi should be just as effective on turf.
3.00 Newmarket – LAVENDER’S BLUE
Already a winner at the track, having made a successful debut here a couple of seasons ago, Amanda Perrett’s mare made a smart start to the current campaign in the Listed Snowdrop Fillies’ Stakes at Kempton almost four weeks ago.
That outing should leave her cherry-ripe for the Group Two Dahlia Stakes, while a couple of her biggest rivals are running for the first time since the autumn.
Lavender’s Blue has proved she handles the undulations of Newmarket and quick ground, so with the benefit of that recent outing, she looks a solid betting proposition.
3.15 Hamilton – DRAGON SYMBOL
It will be fascinating to see what Archie Watson’s colt can do when he runs on turf for the first time.
Dragon Symbol has made a big impression in winning three times in little over a month on the all-weather – most recently making a mockery of an opening handicap mark of 85 at Kempton.
The assessor has slapped him with a 14lb rise for that triumph, meaning he does not have much to find on the book with the highly-tried Muker as he steps into conditions company.
Muker is a likeable type and should step forward from a recent comeback run, but Dragon Symbol might just be a bit special.
3.40 Newmarket – SANTA BARBARA (nap)
Can to live up to her tall reputation by providing Aidan O’Brien with a seventh victory in the Qipco 1000 Guineas.
It is 16 years since the master of Ballydoyle first landed the fillies’ Classic with Virginia Waters, since when he has added to his tally with Homecoming Queen, Minding, Winter, Hermosa and last year’s brilliant winner Love.
Santa Barbara certainly looked the part when making a successful racecourse debut at the Curragh in September – but having not run since, few could have expected her to be a short-priced favourite to claim Guineas glory over Newmarket’s Rowley Mile.
The reason behind her tumbling odds in recent weeks has been unusually bullish reports from her trainer, with O’Brien stating his filly had done “unbelievably well” over the winter and has been “toying with horses” in her work at home.
So, while in form terms alone she hardly deserves her place at the top of the market, such comments from one of the most successful trainers in the history of the sport have to be taken very seriously.
The fact that O’Brien has decided against giving her a prep run – instead displaying enough faith in the daughter of Camelot to run her in the 1000 Guineas off the back of a solitary juvenile outing – speaks volumes about the regard in which she is held.
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