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Horse Racing - Racing: Guineas coming into firm focus

It may still be technically 'jumps season', but with Cheltenham in the rear-view mirror and the Lincoln at Doncaster this weekend, the cobwebs are set to come off the stars of the Flat.

The opening Classic Weekend of the new season is but five weeks from this Saturday, with Newmarket staging the 2000 Guineas on Saturday 30th April and the 1000 Guineas 24 hours later as May arrives and summer appears on our doorsteps.

With that in mind, we've taken a chance to remind ourselves of those aiming to be contenders for Classic glory on the Rowley Mile this season, with all the action available on our Sports Live Streaming platform.

Appleby star attempts to turn the Trail Native

Much like the picture over jumps, the Irish have in recent times dominated Britain's opening Classic contest of the calendar year - with seven wins in the last ten years at Newmarket, to be precise.

Charlie Appleby doesn't have far to travel from his Moulton Paddocks stables to get to Flat HQ and he has established himself as Britain's pre-eminent power, aligned to the revival of Godolphin under his influence on track.

Appleby's Native Trail is a 5/2 chance to win the 2000 Guineas and it's certainly not hard to see him having a major say.

He won all four starts last season, three at Group-race level and the final pair in Group 1 company - via the National Stakes at the Curragh and the Dewhurst at Newmarket - two of the top Classic trials for juveniles as their first racing season ends.

Having looked to be in some minor bother in the Dewhurst around halfway as William Buick got to work, Native Trail really powered home when he met the rising ground, suggesting that this extra furlong will be to his liking.

Appleby also has Coroebus at 5/1 in the market. The son of Dubawi won two of three starts last season, including the Autumn Stakes over the Newmarket course and distance on his final start and looks open to plenty progress in the months ahead.

Ballydoyle juggernaut looms large

In that same ten-year span, Aidan O'Brien has been responsible for five winners of the 2000 Guineas, including Churchill, Saxon Warrior and Magna Grecia from 2017-2019.

Only twice since 1998 has the Ballydoyle supremo gone three years on the trot without winning this prestigious race.

O'Brien has as many as nine possibles for this race, but 6/1 Luxembourg and 8/1 Point Lonsdale are leading the pack.

Luxembourg won all three starts last season, each at the mile trip, handling good and soft conditions alike.

At Doncaster in October, be bagged the final British Group 1 of the turf season - the Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes - in convincing style despite idling a bit late on. Ryan Moore rode him for the first time on Town Moor and all eyes will be on jockey bookings closer to Guineas Day.

Point Lonsdale is no less well-bred, the Australia colt winning his first four starts last season - twice at Group-race level - before being 3½-lengths second to Native Trail at Newmarket in that Dewhurst.

Luxembourg appears the Ballydoyle horse most likely to tame Native Trail at this stage.

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Gosden filly excites for Newmarket

The Cheveley Park Stud colours have been spotted hoovering up some of the leading prizes over jumps recently but the bread and butter of their operation remains on the level.

John and Thady Gosden's Frankel filly Inspiral is 3/1 to win the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on 1st May in the famous red, white and blue silks.

She never put a foot wrong last season, winning all four starts and advertising her claims for this race when taking the bet365 Fillies' Mile over the track and trip at Newmarket.

She put eight rivals away with a minimum of fuss on that occasion and while the bare level of form may be open to question, she has done everything asked of her and appears tailor-made for this Classic contest.

Frankie Dettori rode his fourth 1000 Guineas winner last season via Mother Earth and the ageless Italian will be hoping to bag more success on Inspiral.

Stopping O'Brien the key

The very familiar colours of Coolmore have been responsible for six of the last seven 1000 Guineas winners, five trained by Aidan O'Brien (Minding 2016, Winter 2017, Hermosa 2019, Love 2020 and Mother Earth 2021) since Legatissimo won for David Wachman in 2015.

That makes it five wins in six years for the Ballydoyle handler, the only blot coming when Billesdon Brook stunned he field for Richard Hannon in 2018.

Once more, O'Brien isn't short on fillies with which to attack this race - he has eight still in the reckoning.

Tenebrism, winner of the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in the autumn in one of only two appearances as a juvenile, is 7/1 to step up the mile and land this Classic.

The daughter of Caravaggio is bred for speed, but she got that 6f trip at Newmarket in good style and she's all the more intriguing as she runs in the same colours as Luxembourg.

The Joseph O'Brien-trained Agartha at 33/1 could be interesting as she gained lots of experience last season, while Ralph Beckett's Prosperous Voyage is 16/1 having twice finished second behind Inspiral at Doncaster and Newmarket in her final two runs of last year.

With trials set to begin in the coming weeks across Britain and Ireland, we should hopefully get to see some of the leading Guineas contenders, male and female, strutting their stuff and advertising their wellbeing after a winter shutdown.

That will let us know plenty more and about the make-up of the Britain's first two Classics of the year but, on the available two-year-old form, it's Appleby's Native Trail and the Gosdens' Inspiral holding nap-hands entering the new season.

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