Aidan O’Brien broke the record for Group 1 winners in a calendar year in 2017 but what will the season ahead have in store for the Master of Ballydoyle?
O’Brien scored a Guineas double at Newmarket last season but this time around he might be left settling for just one cut of Classic success although there might be a Kentucky Derby soother for the trainer.
Happily is the 9/4 favourite to win the 1000 Guineas on Sunday at Newmarket, with Ryan Moore scheduled to have jetted back from Kentucky to ride.
The filly has some very smart form as a two-year-old last season, including a Group 1 win over the boys in France in the autumn.
Her credentials here are crystal clear and the lack of a recent run isn’t a big concern given O’Brien’s track’s record of having his runners ready to go first time out.
Moore will be in Kentucky hoping to steer Mendelssohn to glory in the Derby and the 4/1 appeals as O’Brien looks to win the Run for the Roses, one of the few worldwide Group 1 contests that has eluded him up until now.
He has proven form on dirt, having romped to victory at Meydan last time out and while the home jockeys tend to dictate in the Kentucky Derby, the presence of Moore is a big plus and might just make all the difference.
On Saturday, O’Brien saddles both Gustav Klimt and Saxon Warrior (amongst three runners) in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. The former is currently the favourite at 11/4, having won a trial at Leopardstown last month.
But Racing Post Trophy winner Saxon Warrior has surely done more on the track and deserves to be shorter than 4/1 in the betting, with the whispers suggesting he has wintered well.
What we know for sure is that Charlie Appleby’s Masar has wintered well. The New Approach Colt came out and won the Craven at Newmarket last month in very taking style.
Having made the running, Masar looked set to be reeled in by the field but produced a fine turn of foot from the front, no mean feat, and quickened away for a nine-length success.
The Guineas will be tougher but Appleby’s horses are in fantastic order and the 9/2 looks a good price on the C&D winner Masar.
Earlier on Saturday’s Newmarket card in the Palace House Stakes (14:20) there is a good chance that Michael Dods’ filly Mabs Cross will bounce back from her defeat at Bath last time.
She was chasing a five-timer in that Listed race on her seasonal reappearance and suffered a nightmare passage before going down a narrow loser at the line, having had to wait for a gap to appear before challenging.
At odds of 9/2, Mabs Cross can hit and back and gain a first group-race win, with that race fitness crucial for her over main market rival Havana Grey.
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