Best bets for the Qipco Guineas Festival at Newmarket the undercard Saturday & Sunday

Though the 2000 Guineas and 1000 Guineas naturally take centre stage this weekend (see separate post) there are some pretty tasty supporting races to be enjoyed as well on both days. My bets for the supporting races this weekend follow.

Blink and you will miss it at 2.20 as they go over the five for the Group Three Palace House Stakes. Sergei Prokofiev has just the nine-stone to carry meaning he gets weight of the entire field. All his wins to date have come over five, including the G.3 Cornwallis Stakes here at HQ last season,  and he blew away any winter cobwebs with a Listed win at Navan last month. His chances are obvious and I have the 3-1 that was about.

At 2.55 some familiar faces line-up for the 1m4f Group Two Jockey Club Stakes. Kew Gardens was pencilled in for this but has not travelled over which I think gives a great opportunity to ultra consistent grey mare Coronet. The lack of a recent run is of no concern as she has gone well fresh in the past and I think she could gain a much-deserved victory here at 2-1. She gets a little weight from main dangers Defoe and Young Rascal, both of whom were disappointing at Newbury recently (fourth and fifth in the John Porter) and might want it softer underfoot than it’s going to be.

The Listed 1m2f Lightning Spear Newmarket Stakes at 4.45 has just the four running. Wood Ditton winner UAE Jewel will be on many peoples mind but I quite like the chances of Walkinthesand. The colt comes here rather than a tilt at the Guineas and his second in the 1m1f Listed Fielden Stakes to Kick On (goes in the Guineas) looks fair form. I think this sort of trip is going to be his forte and he should prove too strong for this select little field. I will be sniffing around as soon as prices are available.

And so to Sunday and first off the older fillies line-up at 2.20 for the 1m1f Group Two Dahlia Stakes. Billesdon Brook finished a place ahead of Veracious in the G.1 Sun Chariot last back end (fifth and sixth) and this looks to be between the two of them. Last years 1000 Guineas winner Billesdon Brook is a tentative pick to get back to winning ways at 5-2. Yes on paper she didn’t go on to win again after Newmarket but it was a year that had terrific fillies such as Alpha Centauri, Wild illusion and Laurens, all of whom she chased home at one time or another. Nyaleti has been on her travels and returns to these shores but may come up short in this.

Hermosa was on my mind for the 1m2f Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at 4.45 but she won’t line-up as she was left in the 1000 Guineas so this can now go to Shambolic. The John Gosden trained filly won her first two starts before finishing fourth in the Fillies Mile won by Iridessa (Hermosa second) and then finished her 2yo campaign down the field in the G.1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October. This is a significant drop in class and looks to me like a nice starting point to gain some confidence before bigger targets in the summer. I will nab the best price I can when they chalk-up. Maqsad is the potential improver and considered a danger whilst Clematis won her belated debut on the all-weather at Kempton in November well and could be anything as they say.

Be lucky