FASCINATING CLASSIC TRIALS TODAY: The tricky trials are here. The 2,000 Guineas second favourite, Faydhan, is at Newmarket today, hub of a Daq Multiples treble bid by Daqman but too short for a banker, which goes, as he forecast earlier in the week, to Fascinating Rock at Leopardstown.

IT’S THE CRAVEN STAKES TOMORROW: Tomorrow Newmarket continues with the Craven Stakes and the Abernant, and Daqman plans to go for a touch at Ripon in the Silver Bowl. Friday and Saturday, more Classic hopefuls at Newbury.


1.45 Newmarket Doncaster and Newmarket open the Flat but the start of the season has again been set out miles apart, time wise, with no proper fanfare to launch the season’s fare and nothing in the sandwich in between.

The works have been creaking for ages but all the powers-that-be could think of was throwing in a spanner regarding the parameters of the jockeys’ championship.

They’re sitting down, we hear, to rethink the jumps season. Let’s pray the outcome is a bit more constructive than a revamp of the jockeys’ title.

The opener today is a race Barry Hills won in almost alternate years for more than a decade, so Charles Hills having two in this is intriguing.

The lesson so far concerning three-year-old races this season is: if it’s odds-on, forget it; if it’s a new favourite (i.e. shortens up and takes over the market lead) get on!

And Akeed Champion, half-brother to St James’s Palace winner Zafeen, hardened this morning over the 450,000-dollar yearling Hakam, the Hills first string, whose sire, War Front, made a huge impression in 2012-13 with War Command and Declaration of War.

2.20 Newmarket David Brown won this with a newcomer last year and saddles well-bred Swirral Edge, getting the filly’s allowance.

Mark Johnston sent out a previous winner to score at odds on in 2012 and tries the same trick with Ravenhoe, after his success in a depleted Brocklesby field (the runner-up has been beaten favourite since).

Gifted Master is speed bred by the sire of Tiggy Wiggy. Ravenhoe has to give him 6lb and Swirral Edge 11lb. My guess is Swirral Edge today and Gifted Master to take out of the race for next time; the stable doesn’t usually win with newcomers.

2.55 Newmarket Aidan O’Brien sends The Warrior (his first Flat runner in England this season) on a purpose journey for this sprint, obviously hoping to strike again quickly and, though that was on heavy ground, he’s clearly wintered well and the sire’s progeny do best on a sound surface.

Heartbreak Hero is by the same sire but disappointed last season, and William Haggas has had a quiet year so far.

Bossy Guest and Ballymore Castle are from stables in form but I’d worry most about the unexposed Encore d’Or, wide-margin winner of his maiden and a half-brother to Equiano, who counted the Kings Stand among other major sprint successes.

3.30 Newmarket (European Free Handicap) Once upon a time the Free Handicap produced Classic winners (the last two were in 1991 and 1995) but three of the four most recent scorers failed to win another race – the exception, Garswood – and two of the ‘born losers’ were trained by Team Hannon, usually the most powerful of early birds.

But R Hannon Jnr has had a poor recent run, with just 1-21, the 20 losers including only four favourites, several being particularly easy to back, and he admits that Tupi has a lot to do against Faydhan.

Faydhan, who has been kicking older horses out of the way on the home gallops, seems to have frightened off any serious opposition. He’s been Guineas second favourite despite having just the one run and subsequently suffering a leg injury.

Faydhan could turn out to be a banker here but – mindful of John F Kennedy’s early demise – I shall plot him only in my Daq Multiples.


4.05 Newmarket (Nell Gwyn Stakes) In the Eighties, a magic time for fillies, this threw up Fairy Footsteps, Pebbles and Oh So Sharp but has had a lean time in the modern era with just a solitary 1,000 Guineas winner in the decade.

Richard Fahey and John Gosden have had a couple of winners each in that time, but Team Hannon and Team Godolphin front them in the market, early on a wide-open affair but centred more and more on Beautiful Romance as the morning progresses.

So we have another favourite coming off soft-ground success. But her breeding, New Approach out of a Cape Cross mare, is really eye-catching, and she’s the first runner in this for Saeed Bin Suroor, suggesting she is early and full of promise.

The worry about the Hannon, Osaila, fifth in the Albany at Royal Ascot, finishing her first season placed in the Breeders’ Cup Fillies, is the stable’s poor form.

The first four in the betting were separated (if that’s the word!) by 0.6 points this morning, with Gosden’s Lady Correspondent (another War Front) and Cheveley Park fourth Terror in the mix.

On stable form and Classic strength – both supported in the 1,000 Guineas market – I shall split my stake between Beautifical Romance and Lady Correspondent. They are the unexposed pair of the race, being trained as though they have Classic potential.

4.40 Newmarket (Feilden Stakes) We’ve had a French Derby winner in this (Intello 2013) but not much else of Group-1 strength recently.

Not easy to black mark any of them, except possibly The Queen’s horse Peacock, with that query about stable form and as the only one not entered in the Classics. Team Hannon has never won this race.

With Sir Michael Stoute (Disegno) not yet firing – in fact, missing strike badly with four thirds from his last five runners – Golden Horn and Festive Fare are clear in the market.

Golden Horn is John Gosden’s third consecutive Classic contender in the trials today, after Faydhan and Lady Correspondent. Richard Hannon and Godolphin are also represented in all three.

This is not Gosden’s race but it’s one in which Godolphin shook up the Derby market last season, and Festive Fare has the benefit of being a progressive colt in winning form.

I think we need a saver on Hamdan’s Algaith, described as ‘could be anything’ and ostensibly a second string of three (Mustadeem must surely be on a test run, after a hairline fracture of the pelvis).

NAP I put up Fascinating Rock (3.45 Leopardstown) for this race earlier in the week, with Dermot Weld in fabulous form, and I see no reason to change my plan, now that the field has cut up.

DAQMAN’S TIPS (staked to win 20 points, except banker and multiples)
BET 10pts win AKEED CHAMPION (1.45 Newmarket)
BET 5.5pts win SWIRRAL EDGE (2.20 Newmarket)
BET 3.2pts win ENCORE d’OR and 1.6pts win (stakes saver) THE WARRIOR (2.55 Newmarket)
BANKER: BET 20pts win FASCINATING ROCK (3.45 Leopardstown)
BET 4pts win on each BEAUTIFUL ROMANCE and LADY CORRESPONDENT (4.05 Newmarket)
BET 7pts win FESTIVE FARE and 1.2pts win ALGAITH (4.40 Newmarket)
DAQ MULTIPLES: 2 x 3pt win trebles FAYDHAN (3.30 Newmarket) and FASCINATING ROCK (3.45 Leopardstown) with both BEAUTIFUL ROMANCE and LADY CORRESPONDENT (4.05 Newmarket)

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