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Alex Hammond Blog Saturday | Check the price in the Guineas

Sky Sports Racing’s Alex Hammond previews the weekend’s action in her latest blog and she expects Checkandchallenge to perform well at a price in the Guineas.

I am writing to you from the lavish surroundings of a posh hotel in Ireland after making my first visit to the Punchestown festival. How I haven’t been to this wonderful race meeting in the past, I’ll never know. There is a relaxed atmosphere and an enthusiastic, knowledgeable crowd, and of course some of the best show jumping horses in action on the track.

We first focus on the action a little further from my current location this weekend, as the first classics of the season kick off in Newmarket. It’s Qipco 2000 Guineas Saturday where Native Trail is the favorite and understandably so. Charlie Appleby’s colt is undefeated and the yard is in invincible form.

The coach also runs Coroebus, but William Buick remained with the favorite. Aidan O’Brien leads the winner of Vertem Futurity Luxembourg and Point Lonsdale who would be undefeated had he not met Native Trail in his last start in the National Stakes. Richard Fahey wondered if he should lead Greenham winner Perfect Power, and he decided to roll the dice.

Good luck to the team, it would be good for Yorkshire if he won, but he’s got the urge and it’ll be interesting to see if ‘super’ Christophe Soumillon can get him settled (and he’s just about to post ) . I know it would be an unusual course for a classic winner, but CHECK AND CHALLENGE might be too expensive.

He impressed me when he won the Burradon Stakes at Newcastle on the day of the all-time final and is unbeaten in two starts, both on artificial surfaces. I’m not saying it’s going to win, but at the likely prices it might find a place. Native Trail will be tough to beat, especially given the form of their stable and William Buick will be held on to maintain their incredible strike rate now that the Jockeys Championship has finally begun.

Sunday is the turn of the fillies of the 1000 Guineas. It looks much more open than the colt classic after recent news that outpost favorite Inspiral will miss the race. That said, the usual characters are involved with Aidan O’Brien attempting to win this race for the eighth time.

He leads Cheveley Park winner Tenebrism (Ryan Moore) and recent Naas winner Tuesday (Frankie Dettori), whose sister Minding won the 1,000 Guineas. Also for Ireland, Jessie Harrington’s Discoveries is a Group 1 winner at 2 and is bred to be an exceptional midfielder.

The two fillies trained in France are worth the detour. Francis-Henri Graffard’s Malavath beat Zellie on his reappearance, but Zellie should improve for this race. I guess the ground is an unknown for André Fabre’s filly as Malavath has proven herself on fast turf as we saw when she was runner-up at the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar in November .

It would be crucial for promising trainer George Boughey to win the race with Cachet. She won the Nell Gwyn last time out and although she has a bit to find, her trainer thinks she has improved for this race.

Given the shape of Appleby/Buick, it may surprise you to see WILD BEAUTY is a two-digit price.

The form from her Grade 1 win in Canada last year compares well here and she looked good at Newbury in the Fred Darling when she reappeared. It can be one for bettors on either side.

QIPCO 2000 Guineas – Best Bets Overview | Racing Best Bets for Saturday at Newmarket

I return to Punchestown on Saturday and declare an interest (albeit very weak) in one of the runners. I’m part of the Closutton Racing Club who run Shewearsitwell in the Grade 1 Mares Champion Hurdle. To have her here is an honor for everyone involved in her preparation.

She suffered a heavy crash at Leopardstown over Christmas after standing a mile from the fourth flight of obstacles and ruining her beautiful face. It looked like a nasty injury immediately afterwards, but she healed well thanks to the love and care she received.

She is 100% now and comes here in great shape, but there is no doubt that it is a difficult task. Nicky Henderson avoided a clash with Honeysuckle on Friday with Spooky and runs here instead. She was exhilarating to watch at Aintree on her first try at this sort of journey and provided that didn’t leave its mark she will be a formidable opponent.

Stunning is the class act, but other than her it’s pretty open, so hopefully we’ll see a bold show from Shewearsitwell. His trainer Willie Mullins has four of the riders and is having a great week. Hopefully we will have some of the luck of the Irish!


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