Prior to this year’s renewal the biggest priced winner of Newmarket’s 1000 Guineas had been the 17th Earl of Derby’s Ferry, who was returned at an SP of 50-1 when beating her seven rivals exactly a hundred years ago in 1918. The record held by the George Lambton-trained filly came to an end at headquarters on Sunday afternoon when Billesdon Brook took the first fillies’ Classic of the season at 66-1 for trainer Richard Hannon and jockey Sean Levey.
Going into the race on a mark of 99, a full stone below that of 11-4 favourite Happily, there was no fluke about the victory of the daughter of Champs Elysees who improved significantly from her Nell Gwyn fourth to take up the running from long-time leader Laurens approaching the final furlong, coming a length and three quarters clear of P J McDonald’s mount with Ryan Moore and Happily a never-nearer half length further back in third spot. The next three horses home were the well-fancied trio of Wild Illusion, Altyn Orda and Soliloquy, giving the form a more than solid look.
Almost certainly with an element of tongue in cheek in the aftermath of the race, the winning trainer said: “ This is great. I knew she’d win. My Guineas winners aren’t terribly popular with the punters as they tend to be big prices. All of our Guineas winners have needed their first run – they tend to get beat in their trials. I’m just delighted for everybody at the yard and delighted for Sean.”
With a view to the rest of the season, the third horse Happily got caught flat-footed when the pace quickened and appeared to be crying out for a longer trip. Whether that is to be a mile and a quarter or a mile and a half is unclear but should the daughter of Galileo and You’resothrilling stay the Oaks trip the 6-1 currently available with Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power for that race could prove more than generous.