Wednesday’s Newmarket Craven meeting sees the first real clues for home contenders in the forthcoming Classics.
The European Free Handicap doesn’t always have the biggest influence on the 2,000 Guineas but that could change this year with John Gosden’s Faydhan in the line-up.
He’s currently a top price of 5/1 2nd fav for the Guineas and his presence here has frightened off all but 4 opponents over this 7 furlong trip.
All eyes will probably be on him and if he’s as good as his home reputation he may well dot up. It’s the hype in Newmarket that makes him no more than about 4/9 tomorrow – a skinny price for just one win. On paper that 6 length win over subsequent Group winner Dutch Connection is certainly impressive but nearly impossible to rate properly. The second improved drastically afterwards evidenced by the fact that the 3rd and 4th who were just behind were plying their trade in handicaps afterwards from marks in the 70s (Faydhan given 102 tomorrow)
But this race is also seeing the reappearance of another highly promising type in Glenalmond and I think that’s where the value lies in this race.
Glenalmond first sprang to prominence when he was significantly upped in grade for his second start last year and ran very green to finish 4th in York’s Gimcrack Stakes. His inexperience was all too obvious but he looked to me the best horse in the race. He is 3lb better off for a length beating by Jungle Cat in that – but I would have expected him to beat that one again on level weights on what I saw. Gimcrack winner Muharrar later went on to prove the form was not far behind the best of his generation when 3rd in the Middle Park Stakes.
He then ran in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster where a disappointing last behind Estidhkaar. That looked a backward step until it transpired he had pulled a muscle and was practically walking on 3 legs after the race. I’m therefore happy to ignore that run but it seems he has been priced up tomorrow as if that were his true form.
If the Doncaster run had been ignored I really think he would be about the 6 or 7/1 mark for this race.
Of the other two in the race tomorrow, Home of the Brave is also more about potential than form. He was soundly beaten when upped in grade at Kempton after running too freely – something which must be a concern when running fresh on his debut again here – and there must also be some stamina concern over this 7 furlong trip.
Tupi gets weight from all but didn’t do enough to suggest that he was Group race level – something that the selection certainly did to me.
Glenalmond will almost certainly not be 100% ready tomorrow with a possible tilt at the 2,000 Guineas in mind – Karl Burke will have left something to work on with the season ahead. However, the same should probably be true of all 5 runners so they should start on a fairly level playing field here – only paddock inspection will start to reveal which are more forward than others and I can’t build that factor into an early price selection
I think his trainer remains severely underrated – the fact that of his 21 juveniles last season he got 20 of them to win races- is a massive pointer as to his skill. But while he remains underrated the prices on his runners may be over generous.
Toocoolforschool was his highest rated juvenile last season but Glenalmond wasn’t far behind, and this full brother to Group 1 winning Wootton Bassett can start to reveal he is a top quality colt this season.
I remain full of respect for the favourite so only a small bet is recommended on the selection to win the race itself – but it’s the market where we don’t include Faydhan where I think the real value is to be had.
Betting without the favourite markets are usually worked out by automation from the race win odds. But using this method instead of working out manually can give out some anomalies.
As Glenalmond is marked up at over double the odds of the second fav with some firms he comes out far too high for me on this special market (in reality I think he should be fav or joint fav when Faydhan is ignored)
0.5 pts ew Glenalmond 14/1 (365)
2pts Glenalmond @7/2 (Betfair Sportsbook ) – betting without favourite
Thanks for reading and good luck
RESULT: Glenalmond seemed plenty fresh enough on his debut throwing his head around in the first furlong despite a strongly run race. He didnt have the pace to get with the two who raced up front but ran through to the line and I suspect will improve a bit on this performance. The winner Home of The Brave looked to have improved significantly from 2 to 3 but I think we can judge that Hugo Palmer’s team are well forward judged on both his and stablemates runs today. Despite being 4 lenghts behind, my selection was giving at least 5lbs away to those in front and gives me enough reason to think he can improve on that this season – possibly over a mile or over 7 furlongs when the ground isn’t quite as quick
A 3pt loss on the blog today leaves us with a balance of 62.98 pts from an initial bank of 50pts at the start of the year