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Saturday 10 December 2016

2000 Guineas: Go for Gleneagles at Newmarket

Gleneagles is the favourite for the 2000 Guineas
Gleneagles is the favourite for the 2000 Guineas

The Flat season may have started in March but this weekend really does mark the handing over of the baton as the season-ending Punchestown Festival comes to a close tomorrow and the opening Classics of the season take place on Saturday and Sunday at Newmarket.

Tomorrow, Annie Power will be all the rage in the feature Grade One at Punchestown, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Hurdle, and she should return to winning ways following her horror fall at the Cheltenham Festival when she had the Mares Hurdle in the bag.

Beaten only twice in her career, both at Cheltenham, this will be just her second run since winning this race a year ago and after saddling Glens Melody in 2013, this should be three-in-a-row for the formidable Mullins.

The final Grade One race of the week will be the AES Champion Juvenile Hurdle and this could be for export with Paul Nicholls sending over Fred Winter winner Qualando.

The juvenile hurdles were the only novice contests that British trainers won at the Cheltenham Festival and as there is not looking to be a stand out Irish four-year-old in the field, it appears to be best to stick with Qualando.

Across at Newmarket and with Joseph O’Brien getting down to do nine stone for the first time this season to ride Ol’ Man River that is sure to be popular, but it is the Ryan Moore-partnered Gleneagles that looks the one they’ve all to beat.

A proven top level performer already as a two-year-old, the vibes from the Ballydoyle camp appear to be positive with the alternative selection being the French raider Territories for the shrewd Andre Fabre.

Jim Bolger’s Lucida looks to be the best of the Irish in Sunday’s 1,000 Guineas and with the Coolcullen trainer having his horses in red-hot form at the moment, you’d be brave to back against that one.

However, you couldn’t but like the manner of Osaila’s victory at Newmarket just under three-weeks ago and if she can build on that, the benefit of the run should stand her well for Richard Hannon and Frankie Dettori.

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