Fifteen go to post for the Fillies Classic on Sunday, the Qipco 1,000 Guineas over the straight mile. After such a dramatic few weeks in flat racing's HQ for all the wrong reasons, with the Zarooni and Butler yards guilty of steroid use, Newmarket will be glad to get back to doing what it does best, and that's racing itself of course.

The forecast is set fair and the ground likely to be around good to firm (watered to maintain). With the stalls placed in the centre it should provide a fairly level playing field, however much may depend on wind conditions (often overlooked by punters) as to whether front runners are favoured here. Indications are that it is most likely to be a tailwind which might favour those prominent, even though i don't think there is that much pace on here. Perhaps Snow Queen will attempt to set a strong gallop for Moth.
Quick ground might be a concern for some, but many are experiencing it for a first time and I tend to side with the maxim that most get away with it once, but remember it thereafter.

Homecoming Queen was a big priced winner of the race last year, (put up on my flat racing blog!) after an interminable delay to the start following a tragedy at the stalls. 

Plenty of stats over the years pointing to the importance of experience, last time out winners and the like but I remain to be entirely convinced of their value, given that you can spend all day which ones you pick and choose in a race like this and how you interpret them, though breeding does provide valuable evidence. 

On more general stats though, Ireland hadn't won a triumph hurdle for ten years, then along came Our Conor!


Here's my runner by runner guide to the Classic in Racecard order.

AGENT ALLISON: made a big impression when hacking up in a 6f Pontefract good ground maiden last season but has encountered cut on three subsequent starts, being well beaten on heavy in France. Still looked a shade green when second to Maureen at Newbury a fortnight ago. Jamie Spencer has ridden on last three occasions but is on board Just the Judge here. Big ask 25/1.

CELTIC FILLY: Won five in a row before switching to the O'Neill team in March but subsequently well beaten on heavy ground in France. Huge step up in class. The odds probably reflect this FootstepsintheSand filly's chance. 100/1.

DIAMINDA: Three career starts, all at 6f, but bred to appreciate the step up in trip to the mile, and that provides an angle for improvement. Won her maiden well at Ascot before a close fourth in a fair time beaten less than two lengths by Winning Express, finishing in a strong sectional time. The mount of Paul Hanagan and I wouldn't be surprised if this one outruns her market rating. 50/1.

HOT SNAP: Everyone knows Sir Henry Cecil's wonderful record with fillies so this one deserves utmost respect. Won her only start at two on the all weather, taking a Kempton maiden. Came out this season and bolted up in the Nell Gwyn here at 10/1, so she arrives unbeaten. Has more than been found though in the market, and while could not have been more impressive here in that race, beating some better fancied and re-opposing rivals here, 11/4 represents no value against so many strong rivals. Entitled to win but inexperience is the concern if it comes to a dogfight in the final furlong. Difficult to see her out of the three though.
Top rated on timeform despite just two starts, at 132p (p = open to improvement), a rating that would have won eight of the last ten Guineas. by pivotal out of a Kingmambo mare, we have mixed messages about the ground, but on only third start the aforementioned maxim might apply.
 
JUST THE JUDGE: Three from three as a two year old, winning a maiden, Listed and a Group Two. By Lawman out of a Rainbow Quest mare, so this trip poses no problems, if anything might still be on the short side. The Rockfel win hasn't worked out however, with those finishing close behind not having a subsequent win between them, and so there are still question marks and I wouldn't be surprised if the filly comes on for the run here. At least the market is speaking very positively, however others are preferred. Current price 5/1.

MASARAH; has the benefit of plenty starts so will know her job better than many, but thoroughly exposed in Listed and Group class and looks to have little chance. 66/1.

MAUREEN: The Richard Hannon second string, defeated Agent Allison last time by a diminshing 3/4 of a length. The stable wouldn't tilt at windmills but might find herself just out of the frame at the finish. 14/1.

MOTH: Although I've backed her antepost at 20/1, immediately following a last to first win in her maiden last time, she is not my idea of the winner. The turn of foot was mighty impressive going from last to first almost in a matter of strides, and bringing that to the party makes her a danger to all. Drawn in double figures, as are Hot Snap and Just the Judge, and this could be where the race develops late on. That will help her, but just the three career starts, whereas last year's winner for the stable was the most experienced in the field. Needs to improve again, but shrewd connections are perfectly capable of getting that. First time on fast ground. Good frame chance. 8/1.

OLLIE OLGA: Bitterly disappointing when going off just 7/2 for the Fillies Mile here on last start in 2012 and not seen since. Trailed in last that day after hanging badly having been brought to challenge 2f out. I think something may have been wrong that day. Previously had beaten Sky Lantern at Goodwood who of course was second to Hot Snap in the Nell Gwyn. 
Given that I don't believe Newmarket was her true running, she's a lively outsider. She will be racing far away from the market principals, drawn one, and I expect her to come out one of the best of those drawn low. Whether it will be enough to make the frame only Sunday will show, but at 33/1 worth consideration for anyone looking for a lively outsider. Statistically, Chester House has a strong influence on horses progressing from two to three.

RASMEYAA; Dermot Weld doesn't waste his entries so this twice raced once won filly is a real dark one. Absolutely routed her field in soft ground at Leopardstown. it's impossible to get a handle on her. That was on soft ground. Is certainly bred for the job, being by New Approach out of an Indian Ridge mare and Pat Smullen is no negative! 
Like the favourite, another with just two career starts. Given her shrewd connections is respected, however Big Break misses the race and was touted as the stable's first string.

ROZ: Harry Dunlop's filly followed up two wins with a good second in the fillies mile. Stoutly bred and should run her race, but just might find a few of these have more turn of foot at the business end. Not easily dismissed. 25/1.

SKY LANTERN; Richard Hannon's first string looks a big player, with solid form against good yardsticks such as Certify, Ollie Olga and of course Hot Snap. however the last named beat her decisively last time and I can't see the placings being reversed. Has a bit more race experience than many, and another with a frame chance.

SNOW QUEEN: The second O'Brien contender. Winner of a couple of handicaps as a 2yo and a promising enough reappearance when third to Rawaaq last time in a Group Three, beaten less than two lengths. Tempting to make comparisons to last year's winner, but doubtful she's as good. Price reflects chance. 25/1.

WHAT A NAME: Much respected, placed on a Group One on Arc weekend albeit on heavy ground when second to Olympic Glory. That was a fine effort against the Hannon colt. Won a Group Three at Maisons Lafitte on her prep run last month and a major contender here. There's a slight question mark over the trip, being out of a Dayjur mare, but run style looks to me as though she should last out the mile and I do think she is the percentage call today. Mr Greeley would be an American dirt pedigree and this is another first time on fast ground.

WINNING EXPRESS: A solid third to Hot Snap last time, beaten about 5 lengths, but no reason to think she will reverse form with either of the front two. Second to Roshdu Queen over 6f reads well enough, but strikes me as more of a sprinter in time and may not stay the trip here.

A very tricky contest, given that some of the principals have only had two career runs and on different ground. Hot Snap's timeform rating means it merits utmost respect but the Grade One Longchamp form of What A Name is (albeit on very different ground) possibly the pick on my form rankings.

VERDICT:

1) What A Name 9/2
2) Hot Snap 11/4
3) Ollie Olga 33/1.

Best others might be Moth and Rasweyaa. Good luck if you have a bet!