13:50 – Buckhounds Stakes (Listed) 4yo+ – 1m4f
“Horses for Courses” is an old adage that is used far wider than inside the racing bubble, but it particularly rings true with Mark Johnston’s Communique. This Chestnut Horse has already been a grand servant to connections having raced 24 times in his three seasons to date, but he always seems to save his best performances for Newmarket.
His first start at the track came in July 2018, winning a 1m2f Class 2 3yo Handicap, beating none other than Zaaki (Now rated 113) in a thrilling finish. Although racing five more times (winning twice) before returning to Newmarket, Communique once more ran an absolute cracker – this time winning the 1m4f Listed Godolphin Stakes, beating Barsanti (108) under a good Ryan Moore ride. Communique ran a little out of form on his last start as a three-year-old and first time as a four-year-old, but he returned to Newmarket in May 2019 for the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes. Bounced out in front under Silvestre De Sousa, this Son of Casamento made all the running to win by 1¼ lengths – beating subsequent Group 1 winner Defoe (118), Mildenberger (111) and dual subsequent Group 1 winner Coronet (115). Communique didn’t show any real signs of form when beaten at Epsom and Ascot on his next two starts, but he ensured that he kept his unbeaten record at Newmarket intact when winning the Group 2 Princess Of Wales’s Stakes in July last year, beating Mirage Dancer (116).
Communique was sent to Germany for three Group 1 races to conclude the 2019 season, with the best of those efforts coming when 2nd to French King (118) in the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Berlin at Hoppegarten. His form once again tailed off at the end of last season, but he’s a completely different prospect back at Newmarket on Sunday. Trainer Mark Johnston has had his string in fantastic form since racing resumed at Newcastle on Monday, boasting a 22% strike rate at the time of writing – so although Communique has often needed his first run, you can be assured that his trainer will have him in good condition. Communique drops down into Listed company for the first time since winning over this course and distance in September 2018, which interestingly was also the last and only time that Ryan Moore has taken the ride. Despite dropping in class however, Communique has no penalty to shoulder, so he will take some stopping being rated 6lbs+ clear of the remainder (115), running at his favourite track.
15:35 – Qipco 1000 Guineas Stakes (Group 1) 3yo Fillies – 1m
Aidan O’Brien has won three of the last four 1000 Guineas, and the fact that he only runs one Horse this year is extremely interesting. The sole Filly that he has sent over from Ireland is Love, who was a very good two-year-old last season. This Daughter of Galileo shed her Maiden tag at the third attempt when winning at Leopardstown over 7f in July last year, and was stepped up into Group 3 company just two weeks later – easily making all to win the Silver Flash Stakes by an impressive 3¼ lengths. Love disappointed on her next start in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes when only managing 5th (although only beaten 2¾ lengths), but she had a valid excuse – with the soft ground that day not suiting. Bouncing back to form at the Curragh on Good ground in September, Love was impressive when winning the 7f Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes, staying on strongly inside the final furlong to beat Roger Varian’s Daahyeh (110). This Filly won the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket on her next start, before then going on to finish 2nd in the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf over a mile – so Love’s form is rock solid.
Love made her final start of the season in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October. Starting off in midfield, Love moved forward to join the leaders at the halfway stage. The field got racing a long way from home that day however, as Boomer made a move at the 3f pole, with Powerful Breeze then also moving on quickly to lead with a furlong and a half left to run. This injection of pace really gave Quadrilateral something to aim at as she stayed on strongly to just get up, but Love also ran on well – finishing 1¾ lengths back in third. Once more the good to soft ground at Newmarket wouldn’t have been in Love’s favour, but she still ran a cracker to finish so close in third on her first try at a mile. Returning to much quicker ground at Newmarket on Sunday, Love is a perfect type of Filly to progress past her rivals this season. Aidan O’Brien often sends his best Filly to the 1000 Guineas fresh so that wouldn’t be a concern, and he recently said that they always thought Love would make up into a better three-year-old.
14:05 – Pinnacle Stakes (Group 3) 4yo+ – 1m3½f
Serial winner Fanny Logan looks a fantastic bet to continue her prolific record when running in the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes on Sunday. This John Gosden Filly has finished first past the post five times from nine starts in her career, winning comfortably on her first start as a three-year-old in a Wetherby Fillies’ Novice Stakes last April. Fanny Logan ran a poor race in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot last year when racing too keen, but she bounced right back to form when winning the Listed Lyric Fillies’ Stakes at York in July. This Filly had a first time Hood applied that day, which clearly did the trick as she was an impressive winner. This victory would begin a sequence of four in a row, with her next start in the Listed Upavon Fillies’ Stakes at Salisbury, where she bolted up by seven-lengths. Sent to Yarmouth a month later, once again Fanny Logan proved her class – easily winning the Listed Musker Fillies’ Stakes by three-lengths.
Fanny Logan was stepped up into Group 3 company for her next start at Newmarket, running in the Darley Pride Stakes. Considering she was coming into the race off the back of three Listed successes, it was no surprise that she was sent of the 4/5 favourite under Frankie Dettori, and she stayed on strongly that day to win by a length – eased down at the finish. Despite all these easy victories, Fanny Logan arguably ran a career best when sent over to Santa Anita in November – running in the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Held up under Frankie Dettori, this Filly kept on really strongly inside the final furlong, but she just didn’t quite have the pace to get to the leaders – running a really good race to finish 4th. The winner that day was Iridessa (116), a top-class Filly who had already won three Group 1 races in her career – so clearly it was a very good run from Fanny Logan. The application of a hood really does seem to have done wonders for this Filly, and she’s well worth chancing back over 1m4f, especially having had a winter to strengthen up. John Gosden is another trainer who’s been in brilliant form since the resumption of racing, with a 28% strike rate at the time of writing – and I’m fairly confident Fanny Logan (109) can enhance that record. The stable form of Ralph Beckett would be a worry for Manuela De Vega’s chances, but more importantly she didn’t record a victory in seven attempts last season.
14:40 – Brigadier Gerard Stakes (Group 3) 4yo+ – 1m2f
One of my favourite Horses of the 2019 Flat season was Sangarius, which is testament to the ability he showed considering he only ran twice. This Kingman Colt has top quality form right the way through his five career starts to date, starting off by beating Bangkok (Now rated 114) in a two-year-old Novice Stakes at Newmarket in July 2018. His next start came at Doncaster when winning the Listed Flying Scotsman Stakes over 7f, winning by an impressive 2¼ lengths. Sangarius signed off his Juvenile campaign with a good 4thin the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes – a race that has produced three subsequent Group 1 winners; the winner Too Darn Hot (121) won the Prix Jean Prat and Sussex Stakes at three, the second Advertise (119) won the Prix Maurice de Gheest and Commonwealth Cup, and the third Anthony Van Dyck (118) won The Derby at Epsom.
Sangarius made his first start as a three-year-old in the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown in May last year, another race which has a rich vein of form. The winner that day King Of Comedy (118) went on to finish a neck 2nd behind Circus Maximus in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, and the 3rd Roseman (114) bolted up in the Listed Ben Marshall Stakes at the back end of last season. Before that impressive victory however, Roseman met Sangarius once again in the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot. Sangarius took a keen hold that day in the hands of Frankie Dettori, and the pair faced a bit of trouble in running when trying to switch left with 2f left to go. Once the gap opened however Sangarius showed extremely good speed to quicken away from the field, going on to record an impressive 2¼ length victory over subsequent Listed winner Fox Chairman (110).
Sangarius was originally engaged over 1m at Newmarket on Friday, and whilst that wouldn’t necessarily have been a negative, swerving that in order to come to Haydock for the Brigadier Gerard Stakes over 1m2f should mean he is running under optimum conditions. Already rated 113 for his efforts to date, this Khalid Abdullah four-year-old doesn’t have much to find with the likes of Elarqam, and I really do think he will end up being a Group 1 Horse this season. Sir Michael Stoute has had his string in fantastic form during the week, with the likes of Alignak, Mubakker, First Receiver and Jovial all recording impressive victories, and I’m expecting more of the same with one of his first ‘big guns’ to hit the track this season.