THE gallops grapevine is buzzing today. Newmarket’s Craven meeting kicks off with a couple of fascinating 3yo races. But I don’t mean the Nell Gwyn or the Free Handicap, which are both traditional classic trials. The two maidens could turn out to be more informative in the long run. They are both awash with unraced or lightly raced talking horses, so could there be a Group winner lurking there somewehere? George Margarson has never hidden his love of JAMMY GUEST who makes his debut in the Alex Scott Maiden over 7f at 1.45. He is entered in both the 2,000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby, and although he never set foot on a racecourse at two, he was also entered in the Dewhurst back in October.
His trainer described him as the “apple of his eye” last summer so it will be interesting to see how he fares. He has attracted lots of support this morning but will almost certainly need the run. Estifzaaz and Assembly are both highly regarded, while Jeremy Noseda also thinks a bit of Messila Star. A watching brief with a notebook in hand is advised!
The Montaz Restaurant EBF Maiden at 5.15 is even more fascinating. There are five Derby entries among the 11 runners including Frankel’s half brother Morpheus. But Tom Queally has deserted him in favour of stablemate DEMONIC who was as green as grass on his only run as a juvenile, and this is a tip in itself. Improvisation and Space Ship set the standard on form while Tinghir is another Epsom entry. The Haggas pair also look very interesting.
The Nell Gwyn looks as tricky as ever but Kieren Fallon has been bullish about the 1,000 Guineas credentials of NARGYS in recent weeks while GLORY AWAITS is an interesting northern raider in the Feilden Stakes, especially as he was among the second stage entries for the Epsom Derby last week.
Finally at Newmarket, Richard Fahey has his team in fine fettle and Garswood should run a huge race in the Free Handicap, although the trainer’s best chance of a win is with Time And Place in the last. He has been working very well.
At Cheltenham Puffin Billy reappears in an excellent opening novice hurdle but might be vulnerable after his Festival exploits. The progressive Annacotty could run a huge race but VALDEZ is a real favourite and should be suited by the decent ground and longer trip. He looks overpriced at around 10/1.
The policy of backing Mark Johnston’s two-year-olds on their second run has served me well over the years and VINE DE NADA falls into this category at Beverley (3.45). He made a promising debut despite looking undercooked, and he should be fitter and more savvy today.
And in the last at the East Yorkshire track, keep an eye on ADORABLE CHOICE. Tom Dascombe’s five-year-old has two ways of running but if things go his way he has stacks of ability. He likes to lead and if he can trap quickly and get to the front he could take some pegging back.
POSTCRIPT: Yesterday’s two Dark Horses both ran well. San Gabriel was second on his Southwell debut and rewarded each-way money as he was available at 12/1 early doors. And Cold Knight ran ok but looked, well, a bit slow. Blinkers might do the trick.