The First Fillies’ Classic of the Season
The Qipco 1000 Guineas follows 24 hours after the colts’ equivalent, the Qipco 2000 Guineas, and is run over the same straight Rowley Mile at Newmarket racecourse, colloquially known as ‘HQ’ due to its central role in the history of British and world horse racing.
They’ve been competing for this coveted prize for over two centuries, the first renewal having been back in 1814, just a year before Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. Ironically, in 1972, the Bill Watts-trained filly Waterloo won the great race under a fine ride from Edward Hide.
Since the start of the 21st century the remarkable Aidan O’Brien has won the race four times, including the last two renewals with Minding (2016) and Winter (2017). It’s also worth noting that three times in the last decade the prize has gone to France, the most recent Gallic success being that of Miss France (2014), trained by the superb Andre Fabre.
Like the 2000 Guineas, the 1000 Guineas is a combination of speed and stamina, and with an uphill finish following a steep descent into the dip two furlongs from home, horses need to be well balanced and to have the stamina to see it out on the lung-bursting climb to the finishing line.
September to Bloom at HQ in May
Having saddled a world record 28 Group 1 winners last term and with his string already going well this campaign, Aidan O’Brien is the most logical first focus for this race. The ante-post market shows his Clemmie (best priced 3/1 with William Hill) as a clear favourite, the full-sister to dual English/Irish 2000 Guineas winner Churchill having proved very smart last term at six furlongs. The way she strode away inside the final furlong of the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket last September, suggested she would most likely stay the extra quarter mile of the 1000 Guineas.
It’s not always the case though that top two-year-old’s prove equally as good at three, and at current odds , while greatly respected and sure to be a danger to all, Clemmie doesn’t represent any great value.
O’Brien’s Happily (top priced 6/1 with Betfair) won two Group 1’s last term; one over 7 furlongs in Ireland, and the other over a mile at Chantilly in October. She’s a full-sister to Gleneagles, who like Churchill won both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, but she is also a full-sister to Marvellous who won the Irish 1000 Guineas. There are no stamina doubts for Happily and if there is some give in the ground she will run a big race.
The third O’Brien filly to feature prominently in the ante-post list is September (top priced 10/1 with Bet365). This daughter of Deep Impact didn’t manage to win in Group company last term after bolting up in the listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot over 7 furlongs on quick ground, but despite hating the soft/heavy going in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh she still ran a fine race to be third behind stable companion Happily. She then failed by just a nose to beat Laurens in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October on good ground.
Despite having been on the go for much of the season, September then travelled to the US and ran a cracker, flying at the finish on fast ground to grab third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf having completely missed the break. She looked an unlucky loser, as you will see in the video below.
If the long-range weather forecast for Newmarket is to be believed, it offers some hope that 1000 Guineas day will see decent ground, possibly even on the fast side of good. The faster the better for September who looks a very interesting each-way investment. She is reportedly well thought of at Ballydoyle and, with stamina in her pedigree, is currently 10/1 second-favourite for the Oaks at Epsom in June over a mile-and-a-half.
Laurens (best priced 20/1 with BetVictor), trained at Middleham in Yorkshire by Karl Burke, just got the better of September in the Fillies’ Mile, and connections have been very bullish about her running well in the 1000 Guineas. She has reportedly strengthened up considerably over the winter and has pleased her trainer. Her Group 1 win backed up three other fine efforts and she is clearly very smart. Northern racing fans will hope she can go close to repeating the victory of the Mark Johnston-trained star Attraction in the 1000 Guineas of 2004.
The unbeaten French filly Wind Chimes (top priced 12/1 with Coral) is another well worth a second glance. Owned by the Ballydoyle triumvirate also responsible for Clemmie, Happily, and September, (as well as a stack of other entries), she is a daughter of Mastercraftsman and is reportedly seen very much as a miler this term. She does not hold any classic entries beyond that trip.
Wind Chimes wasn’t seen until the last three weeks of the 2017 French season, winning a maiden on the Polytrack at Chantilly before stepping up to easily score a listed win on turf at the same track, scoring with plenty in hand. If she crosses the Channel on May 6, Wind Chimes’ chance should be taken very seriously.
Unexposed Contingent Looks Each-Way Value
Dermot Weld is reportedly very pleased with his once-raced Contingent (25/1 with Paddy Power), a completely unexposed daughter of the great Frankel. She raised a good few eyebrows with a very impressive win from a bad draw at Leopardstown in October, and her dam, Proportional, won the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac as a juvenile before finishing a good fourth in the French 1000 Guineas the following season. She is bred in the pink, and punters looking for a value each-way bet on a filly who really could be anything might find the 25/1 an appealing bet at this stage of proceedings. Contingent is the second of our free horse racing tips for this great race.
Last year’s Prix Marcel Boussac winner Wild Illusion (top priced 25/1 with Betfred) looks the pick of the Godolphin entries, but she may have been a shade fortunate to score there and more will be needed at Newmarket if she is going to repeat the feat in the 1000 Guineas.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.