The Classics 2022 - Guineas, Derby, Oaks, St Leger

“The thoroughbred exists because its selection has depended, not on experts, technicians or zoologists, but on a piece of wood: the winning post of the Epsom Derby.”  Frederico Tesio

Classics 2022 ante-post portfolio

1,000 Guineas:  Tenebrism 3-1

2,000 Guineas: Native Trail 9-2

Derby: Sonny Liston 33-1 each-way

Derby: Piz Badile 9-1


St Leger: 

16th May 2022

Owned and bred by the Niarchos Family Piz Badile, trained by Donnacha O'Brien, impressed me when battling back to get up and win the G.3 Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown in April, always good to see one that has some fight in him. The second that day, Buckaroo, came out and won a Listed heat at the Curragh in May easily giving the form a boost. This one's pedigree is full of past Pattern Class middle-distance winners being by Ulysses, winner of the G.1 Juddmonte International and Coral Eclipse in his day, that makes his Grandsire Galileo and Grandam on the sire side Light Shift who of course won the Oaks! His dam That Which Is Not was a Listed winner in France in her racing career and on that side the pedigree grandam is Shiva won the 1m2½f G.1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in her day. Frankie Dettori gets the ride, jocking off Gavin Ryan who had been on board Piz Badile for each of his three starts to date. I have taken 9-1 about the colt. My other bet, Sonny Liston each-way at 33-1 (generally 50’s now), is still live and hopefully both will be at Epsom in just under three weeks time.  

9th May 2022 

In the most wide open looking Derby for many a year we have a new ante-post favourite, though still housed at Ballydoyle, as Stone Age now takes that spot at around 5-2 following an impressive victory at Leopardstown on Sunday (tipped on here) in their Derby Trial. The son of Galileo made every yard and when Ryan Moore asked the colt to quicken in the straight the response was instant as he went clear to win by five and a half lengths. Earlier on Sunday Luxembourg, who was jolly for Epsom, was ruled out of the race by Aidan O'Brien saying  "He won't run in the Derby. The tests revealed he has a muscular issue behind and he will need a month-to-six-weeks box rest to let it heal. We have to do the right thing by the horse and the plan is to have him back for the autumn."

5th May 2022

Sonny Liston was third in the 1m2f Listed Dee Stakes at Chester running on late having been hampered turning from home just as things warmed up and having to come widest of all off the turn. To my eyes the colt looked to be crying out for a step-up in trip which of course he will get if connections still go for the Derby. He is out to 66-1 generally now; the dream isn't over just yet. 

1,000 Guineas

With Inspiral now missing the fillies first Classic suddenly looks a lot different; in truth I was beginning to lean towards that filly more and more so saved my cash by holding off from punting. Homeless Songs was second on the short list and Dermot Weld aint sending her over from Ireland so it has been a total re-think in many ways for me.  

On pedigree Tenebrism should really be all about speed with Caravaggio as her sire and on the dam side Pivotal the sire of dam Immortal Verse though she herself was no bad miler in her day winning the G1. Coronation Stakes and Prix Du Haras De Fresnay-Le-Buffard - Jacques Le Marois. There is a lot of speed in the pedigree and you have to wonder if she will see out the mile but the way she came home to win the G.1 Cheveley Park Stakes has stayed with me all winter; I was hoping they’d send here to the Breeders Cup as I really fancied her for the Fillies Juvenile but she stayed at home. I have taken a bit of the 3-1 as I think if she stays, she wins. 

Stablemate of the selection Tuesday is better bred for the job being by Galileo out of G.1 winning miler Lillie Langtry. A short-head second to Discoveries on her only start at two she came out to win at Naas in March over the mile on her three-year-old debut still a little green but keeping on to win easily enough in the end. Aidan O’Brien said this week in a Guineas preview “Tuesday won her maiden well at Naas and we thought there was no way she would make it to the Guineas. But she’s made a lot of progress since then and she’s not a three-year-old until nearly June so maybe that’s why she’s like that.” Obviously, there is every chance of more to come from her yet but it might be the second half of the season that we see the best of her. Cachet won the G.3 Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket (tipped on here) and she was third in the Fillies Mile last season spending most of the race over with Inspiral in the middle of the track and was the last off the bit other than the winner. She might have an each-way chance. Wild Beauty is a favourite of mine and won the G.3 Dubai Duty Free Stakes (Registered As The Fred Darling Stakes) at Newbury over possibly now an inadequate seven on her three-year-old debut and has to be shortlisted. She won over a mile in the G.1 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine last season and was fifth in the Fillies Mile keeping on in the final furlong. She is another with an each-way shout. The Qatar Racing owned Mise En Scene is another that ran in the Fillies Mile, fourth nearest at the finish as they say as she came from way out the back, and she has a chance. David Redvers, racing manager for Qatar Racing said earlier this week “Oisin Murphy rode her in a piece of work on Tuesday morning and was delighted with her. She seems to have come forward very well. She hardly blew a candle out afterwards and didn’t get out of second gear, apparently.” If the April showers had arrived French raider Malavath would certainly have been worth a look as she has form on rain softened ground. She was second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on Firm last back end with a few of these behind and it is interesting they come for this rather than stay in France. Trainer Francis Graffard explained the decision a few days back "If she were to stay here the problem is that she’s never run right-handed, while the owners would like to go for the Guineas."

2,000 Guineas  

I am of course all about Native Trail for this having been sitting on a 9-2 ticket about him since September last year! He is unbeaten, has track and trip form after the Craven Stakes victory and it wouldn’t surprise one bit if there isn’t more to come from him yet. Officially rated 7lb superior to the rest of the field I honestly will be amazed it he gets beat. Charlie Appleby told the Godolphin website on Thursday “We are delighted with Native Trail and Coroebus heading into the 2,000 Guineas. William and James rode them in a breeze on Wednesday and both horses looked great. Native Trail’s preparation has been faultless and he has definitely come forward since the Craven Stakes. With the stalls in the centre of the track, being drawn 15 doesn’t worry me at all – he is the class horse in the field and William knows him very well. He holds everything in front of him in that he is an unbeaten dual G1 winner and we are very much looking forward to him hopefully winning a Classic.”

Stable Mate Corobeus is perhaps the main danger but Charlie Appleby has already been talking about targets further down the line for him and I wonder if he will be a summer and autumn horse for them this year. I think Luxembourg has looked more of a middle-distance prospect thus far and even Aidan O’Brien said this week “He’s always been very natural in everything he does and he has a very high cruising pace, but it’s a big ask for him to start off in a Guineas when he’s looking like he’s going to be a middle-distance horse for this year,” Perfect Power has Group One’s to his name and won his trial, the G.3 Greenham Stakes as he liked with Angel Bleu setting it up for him nicely. He has played up a bit though in the past and Christophe Soumillon did well to stop him bolting when going down at Newbury; all the hullabaloo at HQ may very well set him off. Point Lonsdale couldn't live with the jolly in the G.1 National Stakes last season and unless he’s improved by about 10lb minimum can’t win. Of the others Hugo Palmer has been talking up the chances of Dubawi Legend, was second to the favourite in the G.1 Dewhurst Stakes last season, but surely more in hope than anticipation. I noted John Gosden, perhaps surprisingly without a runner, feels Checkandchallenge might be a value outsider. Trained by William Knight the colt has won both of his starts, a 7f maiden on the all-weather at Wolverhampton and the Listed Burradon Stakes over a mile at Newcastle on All-Weather Championships Finals Day. It’s a leap as much as a step-up in class though.  

28th April 2022

My ante-post punt Native Trail will face fifteen rivals in Saturday’s Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. He will break on the outside having been drawn in stall 15 and is Evens best price to take the first Classic of the season and remain unbeaten. Four horses were not declared for the race Angel Bleu, Bayside Boy, Dr Zempf and Glounthaune. The going is currently good with no rain forecast. 

25th April 2022

I have been watching the Video update on the Godolphin website today with Charlie Appleby talking about his runners at Newmarket this weekend. I was pleased to note Charlie feels Native Trail has come on for the Craven Stakes victory and that the race has 'sharpened-up' the colt. William Buick sat on him on Saturday and is reportedly very pleased with him. He also feels he has a 'live candidate' in his words for the 1,000 Guineas in the shape of Wild Beauty and that stepping back up to a mile after he trial win over seven in the Fred Darling will suit and possibly bring on further improvement. 

I also noted Dermot Weld has said Homeless Songs, second favourite for the 1,000 Guineas as I write, is only 50-50 to turn up at Newmarket and may be aimed at the French Guineas instead. My advice at the moment is simply keep your cash in your pocket for now as that race could cut-up some more yet. 

24th April 2022

Long-time ante-post favourite Inspiral has been ruled out of the 1,000 Guineas. Chris Richardson, managing director to owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: “John Gosden had an in-depth discussion with the boss, Mrs Thompson, and following that it was decided that sadly she would miss the 1000 Guineas. John Gosden feels she wasn’t really ready for the race and when you receive that advice from a trainer such as John, you follow it and now we’ll look to the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot as part of her programme. It is disappointing for all concerned but we must heed their advice. Royal Ascot is a favoured meeting of the Thompsons and we’ve had success there previously, it’s the start of the year and we’ve still got lots of opportunities going forward.”

19th April 2022

As it stands, we should get a couple of showdowns between unbeaten horses from the UK and Ireland come Guineas weekend as Native Trail and Luxembourg are still both in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas whilst Inspiral and Tenebrism are both still on course to run in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas. Twenty-four colts were left in the 2,000 Guineas with twenty-one fillies remaining in the 1,000 Guineas as of today.

14th April 2022

Sonny Liston hardly improved his profile for the Derby in the Listed Fielden Stakes over 1m1f today but it was a mess of a race, no pace at all early, and basically turned into a sprint in which he finished fourth. He won't shorten for Epsom off the back of that that is for sure, my hope is he will take up his engagement in the Dante at York nest month over the 1m2½f in which hopefully we will see the real Sonny Liston - that or I've done my money. 

13th April 2022

My initial thoughts straight after the Craven Stakes are simply I wouldn't swap my 9-2 ticket on Native Trail for the 2,000 Guineas for anything. You had to be impressed by that as he won as he liked with William Buick doing little more than steering and encouraging. He is a big handsome bugger to my eyes and clearly has some class, okay he will face some better ones back at Newmarket in just over a couple of weeks but you can't get a better 'trial' than that over track and trip winning by three-and-a-half lengths clearly with plenty left in the tank. Charlie Appleby told ITV Racing: "I'm delighted. We've got that first run under our belt for sure. I was delighted how he was prepped coming into the race, but I'm more encouraged he's now got that run into him. Once he hits that rising ground he races the right way around, William could park him where he wanted and when he gave him the signal to pick up he did. I'm very happy." Me too Charlie boy!

As for the future after the 2,000 Guineas, not wanting to get ahead of myself, but the G.1 St. James's Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting is an obvious target followed by the G.1 Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in July, hopefully setting up one of those 'Duel on the Downs' races with the Three-year-olds taking on the older generation or maybe they'll look at 1m2f and the G.1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown if they think he'll stay. Anyway, roll on Saturday 30th April. 

11th April 2022

We have the first of the Classic Trials this week with the Craven meeting at Newmarket and Native Trail is due to make is seasonal reappearance in the Group Three Craven on Wednesday. It is a race Charlie Appleby will be eager to win and he has described it as the "one thing missing off the Moulton Paddocks CV".  In a video released on Godolphin's website last week, the trainer said: "Native Trail was a man against boys last year. As some of the old school used to say, the Guineas can be the last two-year-old race of the year and if the Guineas was next week I'd be pretty confident he'd be a stride in front of the crew at the moment." All being well he will win hard held and be back here at the end of the month to win the 2,000 Guineas as well!

29th March 2022

I have had a punt on the Derby ante-post in the shape of Dirty Dozen team member Sonny Liston at 33-1 each-way. A son of Lawman, winner of the G.1 Prix du Jockey-Club in his day, bred by Tally-Ho Stud this colt ran just once for trainer Charlie Hills as a two-year-old at Sandown in July winning a Novice Stakes over seven furlongs. His dam, Stars In Your Eyes, was by Galileo who needs little introduction and she has produced four other foals to run, all winners, including G.2 middle distance winner Dame Malliot and Banksea, who is a full-brother to Sonny Liston, and was 100+ rated in his career. You had to be impressed by the way the colt won at Sandown, held up in the rear he made smooth headway to get into contention and quickened clear in the final furlong, Marco Ghiani doing little more than encouraging him. He is entered for the Dante and the Derby, a tried and tested route for top-class three-year-olds, and all being well he might win both! As I mentioned on the Dirty Dozen page with respect to owners Chelsea Thoroughbreds, a London based Racehorse Ownership Club, to the best of my knowledge they have never had one potentially this good and if this colt was housed at Ballydoyle and owned by ‘the lads’ for example I think he would be a lot shorter in the Derby market.  

11th October 2021

Native Trail maintained his unbeaten record by winning the Group One Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket over the weekend and cemented his position as jolly for the 2,000 Guineas 2022 - now a general 3-1 chance, I have the 9-2. Second favourite is now stable mate Coroebus after his impressive victory in the Group Three Emirates Autumn Stakes on the same card at Newmarket.  

Trainer Charlie Appleby said “He (Native Trail) is naturally going to be the leading contender for the 2,000 Guineas now. I can’t foresee him going any further than a mile personally, but I might be proven wrong. He will go into the winter as an exciting Guineas horse along with Coroebus. We have seen two nice colts in the last half an hour. It’s great to have these two-year-olds for the whole team and, most importantly, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin. This is Dubai Future Champions Festival and it’s here for a reason, to hopefully see the Champions of next year.”

13th September 2021

I really have taken the plunge early this time and have the 9-2 about Native Trail for the 2000 Guineas 2022You had to be impressed with how he won at the Curragh in the Group One Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and Charlie Appleby looks to have another star down at Moulton Paddocks. By Oasis Dream he is the first foal to race out of the unraced mare Needleleaf, a half-sister to the top-class sprinter African Rose. The dam is by Observatory out of the middle distance mare New Orchid and there is every reason to believe a mile at three will be ideal for this colt, not least the way he has finished off his races this season. Talking after the win at the Curragh Appleby said “William said Native Trail is still very green and it felt like he was going down to the start on a maiden. He gave the horse a shove early doors to get the revs up, but I knew with two furlongs to go the one thing Native Trail was going to do was gallop out strongly. We will see how he comes out of this and discuss things, but I would say that we might give him one more start this year in the Dewhurst Stakes.”