Steve Hughes has two picks for Sunday’s big card at Newmarket
With the 2000 Guineas result having been heavily influenced by the draw, I am going to pass on the big race today, the 1000 Guineas and instead focus on two good handicaps that should provide a fairer test.
Newmarket 1.50: Baghdad
An impressively tough winner at Royal Ascot over this 12f trip last season, Baghdad was not seen again in 2018. However he made a more than adequate return to the track at Newcastle last month and should be primed for this contest.
An enthusiastic racer, Baghdad finds plenty for pressure too and should enjoy this galloping track where jockey Silvestre de Sousa can find a handy early position and ask the colt to go when he is ready. He is a typical Mark Johnston battler who will never give in easily in a fight to the line.
Considering his recent Newcastle return was his first run in ten months, there was a lot to like about his third place and this lightly raced son of Frankel looks bound for group races in time, so should be up to defying a mark of 100 now his fitness is proven.
Newmarket 2.55: Victory Angel
A gelding who seems to be best fresh, Victory Angel is given an each-way shout to win first time out for new trainer, sprint specialist Robert Cowell.
The 5yo ran his best race of 2018 in this contest last year when beaten just a length by Gifted Master, and is 6lbs better off today. Furthermore he made a winning reappearance in 2017, also over this course and distance, suggesting he is better caught early in the season.
Having made the move in the winter to Cowell, his new handler will no doubt be aware of the horse’s profile and will hopefully have primed him to be ready to go on his first start of the year. He has dropped to a mark of 93, just 3lbs higher than when bolting up at Yarmouth on his last win in the summer of 2017.
1pt win – Baghdad – 1.50 Newmarket – 9/4 Betfred, Totesport
1pt each-way – Victory Angel – 2.55 Newmarket – 9/1 general (Skybet 1/5 odds first 4)