Back Hydrangea to Follow in the Footsteps of Legends in the 1000 Guineas
With a roll call of former winners that includes Minding, Legatissimo and Kazzia, it’s no wonder that the 1000 Guineas takes pride of place in flat racing’s calendar. The second of the year’s classics, and the first to be exclusively for fillies only, here legends can be born and potential Oaks and/or St Leger champions identified.
It headlines the second half of the Guineas Weekend on Sunday, with its 2000 sibling opening up rather nicely on Saturday. With the weather set fair, we can expect a pair of fast and competitive renewals.
Three of the last five editions of this race have been won by the Smith, Magnier & Tabor ownership team, with Ryan Moore taking the ride in all three: Homecoming Queen in 2012, Legatissimo in 2015 and Minding a year later.
That combination will be looking to add another winner to their collection with Rhododendron, who has been installed as a 2/1 favourite by MarathonBet. But there is a sense on the betting floor that this might not be their year.
If bookmakers’ favourite Rhododendron (2/1) is to live up to her billing then she will have to do something pretty exceptional: winning on her seasonal return.
The Aiden O’Brien filly hasn’t run since October, where a masterful performance under the reins of Ryan Moore caught the eye in a two-length triumph in the Dubai Fillies Mile.
But some kind of workout, even if just to shift the rust of a long winter, is usually preferred, and while questioning the judgment of O’Brien would be foolish at the same time this short price does not appeal given a complete lack of competitive activity.
Next in the queue as far as the bookmakers are concerned is Daban, who has shown a great turn of pace in her short career to date. Victory in the Nell Gwyn Stakes in April as a 12/1 fancy is a natural precursor to a price drop here, a best of 13/2 with Ladbrokes is about fair for a horse yet to be tested by elite competition.
Trainer John Gosden is a wily old campaigner of course, but the Guineas could be a big race slightly too soon for this fleet-footed filly.
The Next Best
If you can get anything like the 14/1 available with Ladbrokes and Coral on Hydrangea at the time of writing then you really should be getting involved.
Last season this filly from the Smith, Magnier & Tabor yard was, on average, a length shy of Rhododendron, and so the price does not make much sense given that the favourite is so under-worked in 2017.
Hydrangea has seven starts to her name and has finished in the money on six occasions with two wins and four seconds, and it is actually those runners’ up spots that are as eye-catching as the victories.
She was bested twice by Rhododendron in 2016, but by only two lengths in the Dubai Fillies’ Mile (at Newmarket) and a mere head in the Debutante Stakes. She took April’s 1000 Guineas Trial Stakes and that surely gives her the edge over the favourite.
Don’t be fooled by her status as the understudy to Rhododendron as far as Aiden O’Brien is concerned: in the Moyglare Stud Stakes of 2015, Minding overcame Ballydoyle despite also being considered ‘second best’.
Like Hydrangea, if you are a fan of outside value then Intricately ticks plenty of boxes at 16/1 with SkyBet and Stan James.
First up, she beat both Rhododendron and Hydrangea in the Moyglare back in September at a meaty 25/1, and while finishing fourth in the 1000 Guineas Trial she was barely a length back from the winner despite carrying a three-point penalty.
Held up for a key portion of that renewal, the Joseph O’Brien filly has plenty of potential, a decent run under her belt this year and victories over two of the key players in the field. That’s a nice cocktail, and her 18/1 looks excellent value here.