We’ve barely had the opportunity to get over another epic National Hunt season, and amazing finishes in the Aintree and Scottish Grand Nationals, when there is world-class Flat racing for us to enjoy once again. The two-day QIPCO Guineas festival features the 2,000 Guineas on Saturday, 5 May and the 1,000 Guineas (fillies only) on Sunday, 6 May.
Both events feature prize funds over £500,000 and as per usual, predicting contenders is an incredibly difficult task. There are several exceptional horses in each race and with so many contenders, are past trends any help when it comes to choosing winners?
Let’s begin with the 2,000 Guineas which has 26 possible runners at the time of writing; there will be a maximum of 25 when the race begins although there were only ten runners last year. It was rated the world’s best three-year-old race in 2017 and this year’s renewal promises to be another hotly contested affair. Aidan O’Brien is the undisputed king of the 2,000 Guineas having trained eight winners, a record, including Churchill in 2017 and Gleneagles in 2015. But what should we be looking for trends wise?
- For 16 out of the last 21 winners, the 2,000 Guineas was their first race of the season.
- 15 out of the last 21 winners also won their last race.
- 11/12 winners had at least two previous Flat wins and 10/12 had at least one Group 1-3 race win.
As you can see, there isn’t a huge amount to go on although past data also shows the following about likely winners:
- They have between two and six career races.
- They have not lost more than twice in their career.
- They have won over a distance of at least seven furlongs.
Up until recently, favourites had performed poorly at the 2,000 Guineas but four of the last six have picked up the victory. Since we have a good idea who is running, let’s see if it is possible to narrow down the 26 provisional runners.
While it is always risky to dismiss horses at long odds in major events, it is incredibly rare for horses to win this race at odds of greater than 40/1. Rockavon was the longest odds winner at 66/1 back in 1961. We should remain at 40/1 because Night of Thunder won at those odds in 2014 and Makfi won at 33/1 in 2010. Therefore, by focusing on entries with an SP of 40/1 or less, we immediately trim the field to 16 contenders.
At this stage, it is up to you to determine what direction to travel. However, I can tell you that past trends do little to help:
- Contenders such as Elarqam and Saxon Warrior meet the ‘first race of the season criteria. However, can we ignore favourite Gustav Klimt simply because he raced once this season? It was an impressive win at the 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes.
- The majority of entrants have between two and six races.
- Most of the contenders have won a Group race and they have also won over 7f or longer.
- 13 of the 16 ‘contenders’ also won their last race.
In other words, most past trends appear to be useless in the 2,000 Guineas! At this stage, we’re better off going down the tried and trusted ‘finding value’ route. Gustav Klimt is probably too short at 15/8 having come in from 8/1. Elarqam was a C&D winner in September and his odds have also shortened from 7/1 to 9/2 in a couple of days.
Masar’s impressive nine-length win in a Group 3 at Newmarket places him squarely in the frame at 9/2 while Saxon Warrior will surely have a say at 6/1. The bookies seem to believe it is between the top 4 as the rest of the field is 12/1 bar.
This fillies-only race is also set to be an extremely hard-fought affair with relevant trends hard to come by:
- 20 of the last 21 winners had 0-1 season runs before the race.
- 8/12 winners had an OR of 106+
- 10/12 winners had 4+ previous Flat runs.
- 14/15 were in the Top 3 places in their previous run.
At the time of writing, there were 20 entries and there are likely to be fewer runners on the day. The longest odds for a winner was 50/1 when Ferry shocked the world in 1918. Otherwise, it is extremely rare for a horse to win at higher than 25/1. If you believe that this statistic will hold, there are only nine contenders with Happily the clear 11/4 favourite.
There appear to be fewer contenders than in the 2,000 Guineas so will past trends help us out this time?
- Three of the nine contenders finished outside the top three in the last outing. While it makes sense to discard 25/1 shots Bye Bye Baby and Sarrochi for this reason, the favourite Happily was dead last in the Breeder’s Cup last time out. Strictly speaking, this would eliminate her from contention but since the race was in America, do we discount it? If so, she is one of seven remaining contenders.
- Both Altyn Orda and Anna Nerium have ORs of below 105 so again, it makes sense to discard both 16/1 shots.
- We can also dismiss Wild Illusion (A Group 1 winner in France so discount the Godolphin horse at your peril) and I Can Fly which makes more sense as she was beaten by Altyn Orda at Newmarket last October on the grounds that they have raced fewer than four times.
This leaves us with Happily, September, and Laurens. How do you separate three world-class horses? Maybe you could swerve Happily because she had yet to run in the United Kingdom, let alone Newmarket? September is an excellent horse but hasn’t won in her last four races. Laurens on the other hand, has three wins in four starts including a narrow victory overSeptember at Newmarket in October. At 9/1, perhaps Laurens is the value bet in the 1,000 Guineas?
Although past trends can help you narrow down races in certain cases, there is little to suggest they can point towards likely winners in ultra-competitive Flat races. While you can make a case to use them for the 1,000 Guineas (and risk eliminating good contenders in the process), trends are not particularly useful in the 2,000 Guineas as there are few, if any, that eliminate enough runners to get a clear picture. If you decide to have a bet on either race, best of luck; although there is something to be said for Aidan O’Brien horses in the 2,000 Guineas!