Horses / Horse News

Geoff Lester
5 minute read
18 Apr 2018
9:57 am

Roaring Lion likely to shorten for 2000 Guineas

Geoff Lester

Amomentofmadness could be a good bet at Newbury.

GUINEAS CLAIM. Roaring Lion can show he is a potential 2000 Guineas winner when he lines up in the Grade 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket tomorrow.

John Gosden prevented Aidan O’Brien from claiming a clean sweep in last season’s English and Irish classics, courtesy of the brilliant Epsom and Curragh heroine Enable, and the Newmarket trainer could again provide a few equine potholes in the road in 2018 to slow down the Coolmore juggernaut.

Cracksman and Enable are Gosden’s king and queen for the summer months, but he can also boast a strong three-year-old squad and looks upon ROARING LION, who reappears in tomorrow’s Group 3 Craven Stakes on his local track, as a potential player for next month’s 2000 Guineas, the only English classic to have eluded Gosden.

You might not get rich backing Roaring Lion in this dress rehearsal as he is a class above his opponents and will start odds-on, so the sensible move is to take the 7-1 for the Guineas before the trial.

Victory there and I expect nothing less would see Roaring Lion challenge Aidan O’Brien’s Saxon Warrior and Saturday’s Leopardstown winner Gustav Klimt for favouritism for the 5 May classic launch, so my advice is “don’t miss the boat”.

Remember, Roaring Lion, who won his first three races, then gave Saxon Warrior the fright of his life when running him to a neck in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last backend. He’s done well through the winter and won’t mind the easy ground.

With Coolmore’s top classic filly Clemmie only just recovered from a bruised foot and expected to miss Newmarket for the Irish equivalent on 27 May, the antepost market for the English 1000 has undergone a shake-up, though O’Brien still has Happily and September at the top of the betting.

We might be wiser a er today’s Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes, and, while I prefer Gosden’s Nawassi to O’Brien’s Dramatically, I’ll be looking elsewhere for the winner.

Mark Johnston’s pair, Threading and Nyaleti, both look like sprinters in my book and will struggle to see out this 1400m trip, but I was very taken by Roger Varian’s ALTYN ORDA in the Oh So Sharp Stakes over this course and distance last back-end.

So was the trainer, who said: ”She did everything wrong that day, getting loose before the start and galloping o down the track.

“However, she was still able to win, even though she had no company in the race and veered all over the place, and she looks to have se led down through the winter. She could be exciting and this will tell us whether we have a Guineas filly.”

Few places have had more rain these past couple of months than Ballydoyle, so O’Brien is bringing a small but select team over to Newmarket this week, and his banker could be DEAUVILLE in the Group 3 Earl of Se on Stakes.

This globe-trotting five-year won the Belmont Derby in New York two years ago and was only just touched o in the Arlington Million in Chicago, and he only has to be close to peak tness to see o these handicappers.

The Free Handicap is always competitive, but we have to go back to Mystiko in 1991 to find the last winner who went on to classic glory, so I’m not expecting any reworks, though I do have a very good word for NEBO, the mount of Frankie Dettori.

Nebo mixed it with the best last season and ended the year on a high when landing the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury. He goes in the so and drops back to Listed grade here, so he could prove the solution to a tricky race.

In Britain this is the week when the Flat season finally engages top gear, the most informative of the season with three cracking days at Newmarket and two at Newbury.

It was not until this Newbury meeting last year that the great Enable first appeared on the racecourse, finishing third to her better-fancied stablemate Shutter Speed.

So, while we’ll all be keeping an eye out for the next Enable at Newbury this weekend, RAHEEN HOUSE, who was runner-up in that race, is well worth an interest in Saturday’s Group 3 John Porter Stakes on the Berkshire course.

There is no way that Raheen House will ever beat Enable again, but he’s a pretty useful tool and has only missed the frame once in 11 races, and then in the St Leger, the world’s oldest classic.

Runner-up in all four visits to Newbury, Raheen House, who is just preferred to Danehill Kodiac, is well overdue a change of luck, and it might well be forthcoming here.

Not all Newmarket are in the Roaring Lion camp when it comes to the 2000 Guineas, with Sir Michael Stoute, John Gosden’s next door neighbour, convinced that in Expert Eye, who has his classic prep in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes, he has a serious contender.

Expert Eye looked a potential superstar when he left the chasing pack gasping for air as he shot four lengths clear in the last 200m of the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last year, but you couldn’t find him with radar on his only subsequent run in the Dewhurst, in which he trailed in last.

The vibes from HQ suggest Expert Eye is back on song, but the value bet against the favourite might be CONNECT, who bolted up in the so at Pontefract last year and can spring a surprise in similar underfoot conditions.

Newbury’s classic trial for the fillies is the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes, and, while there are stamina doubts for several of the runners, one proven over this 1400m and already a winner in this grade when the mud was ying is Karl Burke’s ELLTHEA, who ought to be hard to beat.

The Spring Cup is a cavalry charge up the straight 1600m, but though a lottery of a handicap I am keen on GRAPHITE STORM, who is at his best on easy ground and has been gelded since last year.

He was unlucky several times last season but granted luck in running he’ll give us a good run.

And on Friday at Newbury I can recommend AMOMENTOFMADNESS in the sprint handicap. He did us a turn at Kempton recently and is a Group horse masquerading in handicaps.