The first Classics of the season are staged this weekend with the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas (Saturday 6th May) and QIPCO 1,000 Guineas (Sunday 7th May) taking place at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile.
The mile contests could provide significant clues for both the £1.5 million Investec Derby (Saturday 3rd June), Britain’s richest race, and the £500,000 Investec Oaks (Friday 2nd June) which are run over four furlongs further at Epsom Downs.
Of the 12 five-day acceptors for the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas, three currently hold Investec Derby entries. They are headed by last year’s champion two-year-old Churchill (Aidan O’Brien), who ended 2016 by winning the G1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh and Newmarket’s G1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes. The son of Galileo currently heads the ante-post market with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, for both Classics.
Eminent (Martyn Meade) is an unbeaten son of Frankel who made a very impressive start to 2017 when taking the G3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket over a mile on 20th April.
The third horse to hold entries for both Classics is Rivet (William Haggas), last season’s G1 Racing Post Trophy scorer. The Fastnet Rock colt is owned by a syndicate including nine-time Investec Derby-winning jockey Lester Piggott and was runner-up to Eminent in the Craven Stakes.
A total of 37 colts have won both the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas and Investec Derby, the latest being the Aidan O’Brien-trained Camelot in 2012 (pictured).
There could also be Investec Derby clues on Saturday in the Listed Havana Gold Newmarket Stakes over a mile and a quarter, which has been won by subsequent Epsom Downs heroes Slip Anchor (1985) and Shirley Heights (1978). Of the 13 entries, five hold Investec Derby entries including eye-catching maiden winners Zamfir (Charlie Appleby) and Count Octave (Andrew Balding).
Last year, Minding became the 48th filly to win both the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas and the Investec Oaks and seven of the 18 confirmations for Sunday’s Newmarket Classic are also entered in the Investec Oaks. They are headed by Aidan O’Brien-trained pair of Rhododendron and Hydrangea, who were first and second respectively in the G1 Dubai Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in 2016, as well as Intricately (Joseph O’Brien), who gave her trainer a first G1 success when getting the better of Hydrangea in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh. Impressive Newmarket maiden winner on her only start, Talaayeb (Owen Burrows), is another eye-catching contender entered in both Classics.
Dual Investec Oaks-winning trainer Ralph Beckett could be represented by Isabel De Urbina and Camerone in the Listed Tweenhills Pretty Polly Stakes (4.45pm, 12 entries) over 10 furlongs at Newmarket on Sunday.
Isabel De Urbina justified market confidence on debut in a maiden at Ffos Las in September, while Camerone was successful on her second start in a mile maiden at Brighton the following month. Both fillies hold Investec Oaks entries.
Talent captured the Listed 10-furlong contest for Beckett in 2013 prior to leading home an Investec Oaks one-two for the stable at Epsom Downs.
Beckett said: “Isabel De Urbina worked this morning and I would say she is likely to start off in the Pretty Polly. She is stepping up in trip and we will find out more on Sunday.
“Camerone is a possible for Newmarket as well, although she could wait for Lingfield the following week.”
Entries for the Tweenhills Pretty Polly Stakes also include fellow Investec Oaks aspirants, Listed Montrose Fillies’ Stakes third Tansholpan (Roger Varian) and Horseplay (Andrew Balding), a 13-length winner on her second start at Nottingham, plus once-raced maiden winners Astronomy’s Choice, Precious Ramotswe (both John Gosden) and The Sky Is Blazing (William Haggas).
The 2,000 Guineas is staged on Saturday 6th May and the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday 7th May, both at the Rowley Mile Racecourse in Newmarket.
The 2017 Investec Derby Festival is staged on Friday and Saturday, 2nd and 3rd June, at Epsom Downs Racecourse.