I was a big fan of Expert Eye prior to the Dewhurst Stakes last autumn, and was even prepared to forgive his losing the plot in that contest given he had excuses such as the big occasion, the fast ground and the undulations of Newmarket. Unfortunately, his comeback run in the Greenham at Newbury, where the trip, track and ground where ideal did nothing to redeem him in my eyes, and while he wasn’t beaten far by James Garfield, he once again got lit up and failed to convince with his temperament or stamina.
On Saturday, he will be stepping up to a mile, back on quick ground and back at Newmarket, so the negatives seem to outweigh the positives considerably. I will be astounded if he can suddenly turn his negative traits into positives, and will be pretty surprised if he stays this stiff mile even if he does settle.
In short, I simply cannot have him finishing in the frame in the Guineas and the only race I’d back him for at this stage would be the Sprint Cup at Haydock in the autumn.
In the win market for the big race, I think Gustav Klimt is a bit too short, although that’s a marginal call and his trainer knows his pecking order. Saxon Warrior has lost his place slightly in the Ballydoyle shuffle, and while this colt may have what it takes to win a Derby, he surely lacks the basic speed to win a Guineas on quick ground. He will get outpaced before staying on, and I can see him grabbing a place, so won’t take two on in that market. Instead, I’d recommend laying him in the win-only market at 6.0 or shorter.
In the Palace House Stakes, Havana Grey appears to have outstanding claims according to official ratings, but that presupposes that he will improve in line with the weight-for-age scale from two to three years, and I am sceptical about that given what a ready-made sprinter he looked last year. His defeat in the Flying Childers showed that some of his contemporaries were already catching him up in terms of ability, and while this is a terribly weak renewal of the race, I feel he will be very vulnerable despite receiving weight all round.
- 2.20 – Lay Havana Grey @ 3.7 or shorter
- 3.35 – Lay Expert Eye for a place @ 3.75 or shorter
- 3.35 – Lay Saxon Warrior @ 6.0 or shorter
Click here to browse Matchbook’s Horse Racing Markets, and listen to Rory as he previews this weekend’s racing action on the Matchbook Betting Podcast alongside Stephen Harris and Johnny Ward.