I can see clearly now the trials have gone!

With the first Classic trials officially over, the mists have receded – but only to be replaced by a thick fog, and most of us are none the wiser.

Newbury saw beautiful weather and lush turf attract some decent fields for their trials with the fillies lining up for the Fred Darling Stakes including ante post 1000 Guineas fancy Tiggy Wiggy for the Richard Hannon yard as she looked to add to a very successful juvenile career. Sent off the well-backed 11/10 favourite (and yes some of it was my money), connections seemed bullish in advance but worried about her stamina as a daughter of Kodiac, which seemed to force them to change her racing style from bold front-runner to covered up stalker, and quite frankly it didn’t work. She did run on in to third behind 12/1 shot Redstart (and even I can’t back them each way at that price), but I did notice connections did not seem anywhere near as upset as I was, and they walked off grinning so we can all assume she will improve considerably for the race and will be ridden very differently next time out at Newmarket, and at the now very tempting odds off 33/1 she could yet represent a spot of value in early May?

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Richard Hannon – only thirds at Newbury but doesn’t seem unduly concerned?

Naturally, shell shocked as we were we all looked forward to the Greenham Stakes and a really high quality line up that looked to put the best of last season’s two-year-old form on show for all to see. Much as I fancied Ivawood ahead of the race, I am beginning to sense that since Richard Hannon (Jnr) took over from his father, the stables’ runners arrive at the track a gallop or two short of full fitness (I have no stats to back that up, it’s a gut feeling), so I wasn’t willing to throw good money after bad. That was my first decent decision of the weekend to be honest as he also only managed third behind Frankie Dettori on runaway winner Muhaarar, who isn’t even entered at Newmarket. He may well head off to France for their equivalent where he would have every chance on faster ground, but what did we learn for our 2000 Guineas?

Estidhkaar was a neck second and close to five lengths ahead of the favourite in third and his price for headquarters has shortened to a more realistic 12/1, again a price I could be tempted by as things stand. Assuming he also needed the run (the son of Dark Angel is another in the care of Mr Hannon), he has proved he has trained on and ought to be very much in the mix – another to consider for all you each way thieves out there. Meanwhile, Aiden O’Brien may well be quietly sniggering to himself with Gleneagles strengthening at the head of the market, though their stable have seen more than enough upsets in recent days to suggest his alleged flying gallops may not mean quite so much as other media sources may imply.

One horse who did impress on the day was the Roger Varian trained Intilaaq who ran away with what looked like a pretty decent maiden following paddock inspection. Backed from 100/30 to 9/4 at the off, he made every yard of the running from the moment the stalls opened and went past the winning post eight lengths in front of his nearest pursuer. Winning is one thing, but better still he did it in almost effortless style, gliding over the decent turf, and clocked a time 1.26 seconds faster than the second division run 35 minutes later. Considering he was never really challenged that is more than a little impressive, and although talk of a 2000 Guineas supplementary entry seems an exaggeration at this time, he does look likely to take high rank this season at Group level somewhere, and with the Roger Varian yard hardly in full swing as yet (two wins from twenty one runners in the past two weeks including this son of Dynaformer), it seems sensible to assume he will also improve for the race?

To end with I like to look forward, and next weekend we have a decent meeting from Sandown that brings down the curtain on the National Hunt (jumps) season and the career of A P McCoy, the greatest jumps jockey of all time (stats don’t lie). I will be the to report back with a few photos on what seems sure to be an emotional afternoon, so watch this space for all the details same time next week.

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