With a hunter chase meeting at Cheltenham (a posh point to point) and the occasional mid-week meeting at Sedgefield, the pendulum has truly swung in the world of horse racing. Tweed, whisky-macs and tank-like creatures have been returned to their respective cupboards, cabinets and paddocks as we are met by brighter weather and shinier suits, with nails and lawns manicured alike. Kauto Star is warming down as Frankel limbers up for the campaign ahead.
Saturday marks the first major day of the flat season with the Guineas meeting at Newmarket. As the Headquarters of thoroughbred racing throughout the world, many will gather in the peculiar town in the East of England, cherished by racing and the circus that ensues, strangely isolated from the real world on its flat, fertile lands. Although mud splattering, Guinness swilling and Paddy-baiting is largely behind us until the next National Hunt campaign, the Flat campaign should not be uninvited. It brings excellent competition on a different playing field to the jumps, with fine measurements of excellence allied to bountiful prize money and the chance for stardom and legend.
The aforementioned Frankel is not running on this first major weekend. With an interruption to his preparations, we may have to wait until the Royal Meeting at Ascot to see him try and build on his undefeated 9 career starts and a treasure trove of over £1.3m. At Ascot it is rumoured that he may meet with the Australian super-mare, Black Caviar, undefeated in 19 starts. However that mouth watering contest of Poms vs Antipodeans, boys against girls, is for another day.
There are many others who should be of interest. Camelot, who although is trained by the Irish, is named in the true fabric that makes our Kingdom great, represents the indefatigable connections of Messers Magnier, Tabor and Smith, aka Coolmore. He is currently hot favourite for both the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby, so Saturdays Classic should give useful pointers for the season ahead.
Also on the card is Born To Sea, a half-brother to the wonderful, mesmerising and imperious Sea The Stars. He represents the same connections and will be seen on Saturday with the distinctive yellow and purple, aiming for further glory for (arguably) the most distinguished (equine) family in racing. Frankel has planted fresh dreams of sporting greats in our mind through his blistering pace and absurdly high cruising speed, however with the start of every season comes fresh hope, dreams intact, wandering imaginations and plenty of ‘what-ifs’ – it is the currency of this great sport.
For those that like a flutter*, The Dundee Courier suggests a cheeky each way nibble on the sumptuous odds of Caspar Netscher in the Guineas. He has hit the floor running on his only start as a three year old, and representing the hugely able, but not so fashionable Alan McCabe yard, can be obtained at generous odds. Generally 25/1, have a little sniff each way, everyone deserves an honest way to flush away a few hard earned coins, and needs something to cheer on and dream about, even if the dream lasts for 2 minutes and ends in tears, arguments and a call to Wonga.com.
For the horizon, Imperial Monarch looks like a good prospect for the Derby. A stablemate of Camelot, he has won both of his starts and done nothing wrong to date. Trading generally at 16/1, have a little bet this time next week, when all the focus will be on the Guineas and its horses, and the challengers may get a little respite and a little value.
Soon the gates to the starting stalls will open and the cavalry charge over 5, 8 or 12 furlongs will begin. The thundering of hooves over lush turf, the gleaming coats under the summer sun, the speed power thrust and perfection akin to Formula One. It will be a great season, and who knows, maybe a profitable one too**.
* Gamble at your own risk. Tips above are supplied purely for an enjoyment basis and should not be the subject of mortgages or (expected) inheritances. The author has a chequered (generous) gambling past and will not permit physical abuse in return for unlucky defeats.
by Daniel Polak