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New & Exclusive: Matthew Sutcliffe’s Value Pointers and Punts – Saturday, 6th May

The legendary Frankel burst onto the scene with victory in the 2000 Guineas, who will land this year's renewal?

Matthew Sutcliffe is the newest recruit to the GG team and he will be looking back on the previous weekend for smart performances, as well as picking the best value plays ahead of Saturday’s action.

Published: 2.00 pm May 3 (Odds correct at time of publication)

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Last weekend began with a dampener as Sandown was forced to abandon their Flat card after a deluge of rain hit the track, with false patches in places leading to the course becoming unfit for racing. Nevertheless, there was some fantastic action elsewhere with plenty of eye-catchers for the future.


Wonder Legend – Sea The Stars x Sea Of Wonders (Fastnet Rock) – Trainer: James Ferguson.

On Friday, unlike Sandown, mother nature failed to prevent Doncaster going ahead and we were treated to a competitive afternoon of racing. In the 16:00, James Ferguson’s WONDER LEGEND bolted up over 1m2f on handicap debut off a mark of 81. The son of Sea The Stars was making his first appearance of turf, and after travelling strongly, he kicked into an impressive gear and came home five lengths to the good under hands and heels from Daniel Muscutt. He ran to an RPR of 99, the joint highest in the history of the contest along with John Gosden’s smart gelding Forest Of Dean. Connections of Wonder Legend are no strangers to success with handicap graduates, as Deauville Legend similarly improved for the foray into them, making his debut off 89 in the King George V Stakes at last year’s Royal Ascot before rising some 27lbs in the weights after victories in the G3 Bahrain Trophy and G2 Great Voltigeur, then signing off with a fourth in the G1 Melbourne Cup. Wonder Legend will no doubt receive a big hike in the weights, but I believe he is one to add to your trackers and follow throughout the summer, whether that be in handicap or group company.

Maywake – Mayson x Wakened (Rip Van Winkle) – Trainer: Richard Fahey.

Maywake’s form dipped sharply after winning on seasonal reappearance at York last year, so it was pleasing to see him return to some level of form at Redcar earlier this month, staying on strongly to be beaten just over a length into 3rd after waiting for a gap to appear at a crucial stage. Maywake opened up a short priced favourite for the Sky Bet Sunday Series Handicap last weekend after that effort, but got racing far too late once more, perhaps not enjoying the drastic change in going from good to near bottomless at Musselburgh. However, the way he stayed on again that day suggests he is back on a handy enough mark to return to the winners’ enclosure. With York on the horizon in just under three weeks, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him line up in the same handicap he took off this mark last year, especially if returning to more prominent tactics.

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Weekend Punts

Newmarket 2:50 – Home Of Racing Handicap (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) 4yo+)

Admiral D (0.5pt EW – 10/1 generally)

Chairmanoftheboard – (0.5pt EW – 16/1 Bet365, 14/1 generally)

A typically competitive looking renewal of this heritage handicap with a big field likely.  The forces within me have failed to split two runners, who were both 3rd and 5th respectively in a course and distance Class 2 handicap last time out.

Richard Fahey won this race in 2018 and 2016 with four year old’s, and he sends one in Admiral D in an attempt to grasp further glory. I am siding with the latter, who made an eye-catching reappearance over course and distance last time out. That was his first go on the Rowley Mile, and he stayed on strongly up the nearside, despite all the action coming up the centre. Oisin Orr restricted the son of Ardad to hands and heels in the last furlong, giving off the impression he was saving some fuel for another day. Although he is winless since his final two year old race for Michael O’Callaghan, he was competitive in some big field Class 2 handicaps last season and is five pounds lower than his opening British handicap mark, with his reappearance suggesting he will come on for that run as well as being ready to strike off 92.

Chairmanoftheboard was a length ahead of Admiral D last time out, building on his Doncaster reappearance. The seven year old son of Slade Power possibly had his nose in front with half a furlong to go, but failed to repel the game Probe before Orazio came flying past the pair. Charles Hills hinted afterwards that this race will be the next target for Orazio, so in his absence it seems reasonable to chance my pair. Jack Channon’s mount was a length and a half 3rd in this race last year off a mark of 94, but after a somewhat disappointing campaign he is now 6lbs lower, operating from his lowest mark since July 2020. His C&D record over the Rowley Mile reads 333, and given he showed ran to his highest RPR (95) since his 3rd in this contest last year, there’s every chance he has discovered some of his old spark, and the time to catch him may be now. Jack Channon has made an impressive start to his training career since taking the reins from his father with 12 runners and 22 places from 62, and Connor Beasley is jocked up who is 5-1-2 for the yard.

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Newmarket 15:25 – Suffolk Stakes (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo+)

The City’s Phantom – (0.5pt EW – 40/1 generally)

Howth (0.5pt EW – 20/1 generally).

Jimi Hendrix currently tops the market for the Suffolk Stakes, and I am not quite over his fashionable win last time out, having backed him all last year and for the Lincoln, before inevitably leaving him the last day. However, only one favourite has won this in the last 10 renewals, and the stats suggest that backing a progressive one isn’t necessarily the way forward. Only three horses who’ve won the race since 2012 have come out and won again in their lifetime. Seven of those were making their seasonal debut and just two carried over 9-0.

Two horses that fit the bill above are The City’s Phantom and Howth. The former has won on every one of his seasonal reappearances (3), albeit over 1m2f at Yarmouth, so it is interesting that connections have skipped going there this year and instead chance their mount in this more coveted event. Outside of Yarmouth, his only other bits of form have come at Leicester over the undulating 1m2f, which bodes well for being able to handle the tricky conditions of the Rowley Mile. History has showed that this race tends to favour those prominent racers which will further enhance his chance. Hayley Turner is jocked up who is 63-11-11 all time for the yard, boding well for a chance of at least being in the money.

The other one I like is Mick Appleby’s mount Howth. A four year old son of Churchill who is a half-brother to the smart Cayenne Pepper. The ex Aidan O’Brien inmate was picked up by connections who have a knack for transforming regressive horses. Howth was a two-year old winner off 85 on handicap debut for O’Brien, before coming up short in several black type events. He was 4th in the Group Two Champagne Juvenile Stakes, a length behind last year’s Epsom Derby hope Stone Age. It could have been said he hadn’t trained on as a 3yo, however he was only beaten three lengths in a 2000 Guineas trial at Leapardstown last April behind the 111r Dr Zempf, with the 108r The Acropolis in 2nd and 113r New Energy in 3rd. He came up short in three races since including the G3 Hampton Court, and a similar fate was to be when beaten thirteen lengths on yard debut last October. However he was only with Appleby for a week, and duly improved next time out over when an eye-catching 2nd to Chichester (may have won with more luck). He evidently met that rival on an upward curve as Chichester is now rated some 18lbs higher after a successful AW campaign this winter, culminating in a 3/4L 2nd to Berkshire Shadow in the All-Weather Championship’s Conditions Stakes (112 RPR). Howth ran to his highest RPR (100) since his 5th in the Group 2 Royal Lodge, and could have turned a page now with Mick Appleby.

Newmarket 4:00 Palace House Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3yo+)

NAP Get Ahead (1pt EW – 20/1 generally)

I had tipped up Bonny Angel in the Listed Lansdown Stakes at Bath last time out and while she ran with credit (will be winning when upped to 6F), it was the other Clive Cox filly that caught the eye. Staying on strongly from the rear after being interfered with leaving the stalls, Get Ahead gave off the impression that she would come on leaps and bounds for that run. The half-sister to 2000 Guineas hope Chaldean was electric at Goodwood  last July, winning by two lengths under hands and heels, finishing just 0.62 seconds below Battaash’s course record. Clive Cox won this race with the smart Profitable in 2016 (also 20/1) who similarly graduated out of handicaps and listed contests prior. She receives a hand allowance from the field, and the way she stayed on that day would suggest the uphill finish on the Rowley Mile will play to her strengths.

Newmarket 4:40 – 2000 Guineas Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Colts & Fillies (Class 1) (3yo)

Indestructible (0.25pt EW – 22/1 generally) & Little Big Bear 5/1 (2pt win – 5/1 generally)

The first Classics of the British Flat Racing season is upon us as fourteen runners currently take their
shot at cementing a place in the history books in this year’s 2000 Guineas. The field is nothing less than star studded and it presents quite a conundrum, will the speedier bred horses stay the Rowley Mile? Will the proven miler’s possess enough quality?
The current favourite is Aidan O’Brien’s Auguste Rodin. The son of Deep Impact out of the yards Fillies Mile winning mare Rhododendron bids to give his master trainer an eleventh success in this contest. Proven twice at the Mile, it may be wise to leave this up to the Vertem Futurity winner who could be simply too classy. However, O’Brien has made it no secret he will aim to win the Triple Crown with this horse, and I’d be concerned that if he possesses enough stamina to win a St. Leger, there’s likely to be more speedier types in here who’ll tap him for toe over the Rowley Mile.
Any 6/4 favourite in a race full of untapped potential is worth taking on in my eyes, and I’m siding with the Group 3 Craven Stakes winner Indestructible for Karl Burke, Kevin Stott and the ever- growing Amo Racing. While The Craven Stakes has only produced one winner of the Guineas in the last two decades, the last four winners have all finished in the top three. Indestructible played 2nd fiddle to Chaldean twice last season, but after a wind-operation he returned with a bang over course and distance last time out. It’s reasonable to believe that wasn’t the strongest of renewal’s, however the manner in which he saw out the trip despite being fresh the whole way was convincing enough to have him in contention for the Guineas, especially given the fact he is likely to improve for that first run of the season as was the case last year. That run was only marginally under a second slower (despite carrying 2lbs more) than Master Of The Sea’s triumph in 2021 which was on quicker ground, so there is further sufficient evidence to believe he is not without quality to compete here. He is drawn in stall nine with four of the top five in the market drawn higher, and the likely pace angles are all drawn lower. So Kevin Stott has a handy gate to operate from to let the race unfold in front of him early on before judging who to follow once the field settles down. Whether he is the highest calibre of competitor in this race is susceptible, but he is arguably in the top bracket with conditions to suit, and I can see him running a huge race with match fitness already on his side over ¾ of the rest.
The other angle I’m playing in the race is the Aidan O’Brien 2 nd string Little Big Bear. There’s every chance that this race could turn into a crawl and sprint, and this strapping son of No Nay Never will relish that scenario. The niggling concern here is that if the O’Brien team genuinely believe Auguste Rodin has a chance of winning the Triple Crown, then Little Big Bear is going to be the hare in the race to provide his stablemate with a win. Without having the ability to see into the mind of the master trainer, we simply will not know until the day. Taking that scenario out of the equation, there is a small part of me that thinks Little Big Bear could do something special here. He is by No Nay Never who is predominantly thought of as a sire providing speed, but he is out of a Bering (10.1F) mare who won twice over ten furlongs herself, and is a half-sister to American Graffiti who was a three time winner over ten furlongs, despite being by Pivotal who similar to No Nay Never, has a reputation to produce speedier types on the track, thus there is optimism to suggest LBB could even improve the trip if going by the dam-side. Little Big Bear was last season obliterating the field by seven lengths in the Phoenix Stakes over six furlongs and he wasn’t stopping at all at the line, resulting in an official rating of 124, 5lbs higher than any other runner in the Guineas.

Newmarket 3:40 – 1000 Guineas Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (1m).
Caernarfon (0.5pt EW – 50/1 generally)

The complexion of this year’s 1000 Guineas has rapidly changed as Dermot Weld’s Tahiyra, thought to be going to the Irish equivalent, has been confirmed. There is nothing to suggest that the form of her two and ¼ length defeat of Meditate in the Moyglare will be reversed, and she rates a worth favourite. Outside those two, with the latter not guaranteed to stay, there is not a whole lot I can see putting it up to Tahiyra. Mammas Girl comes straight here off the back of a win in the Neil Gwynn, but at 16/1 she did not appear to be fancied by connections and if I am being brutally honest, it didn’t look a vintage renewal. Remarquee was well backed last time out but still green as grass and while she may have learnt more from that, I’d be worried about her lasting home in this
stronger contest if still keen, not to mention Fred Darling winners are 0-19 in winning next time out. Next in the market is Dream Of Love, who wasn’t seen to best effect behind the reappearing (subsequent eight length winner) Mawj last time out. That leads me on to my fancy, Jack Channon’s Caernarfon, who I cannot believe is 50/1 considering she convincingly beat Dream Of Love by 1 ¾ lengths in the Listed Montrose Fillies Stakes over course and distance last time out. A filly who started life in handicaps off a mark of 70 would not be your ideal winner of a 1000 Guineas, but she clearly learnt her job as the season went along and she is the only course and distance winner in the field which can only bode well for her chances. Tough and battle hardened, she holds experience over the others and in the event some of these fillies blow up, this daughter of Cityscape could put her proven racecourse exploits to good use. Jack Channon has made an excellent start to his training
career since taking the reins from his old man, and three of his nine individual winners thus far have been fillies. Any trainer who can train a filly to understand her duty as a racecourse deserves strong recognition in my eyes, and the younger Channon has already proved the ability to do so. Caernarfon is a full sister to connections Dan’s Dream who they chanced here in 2018 when a 20/1 shot. Although well beaten, it’s certainly a positive to see she is held in similar regard.