Newmarket’s Qipco 1000 Guineas has become something of a lottery in recent years with the victories of outsiders Blue Bunting and Homecoming Queen being preceded by the strongly fancied Special Duty who was fortunate to be handed the classic in the stewards room after 66-1 shot Jacqueline Quest had passed the post in first place. Last year’s winner Homecoming Queen spreadeagled a high-class field by an astonishing nine lengths yet failed to finish in the first three in two subsequent attemps for trainer Aidan O’Brien while the fourth horse home, The Fugue, finished the season on a rating of 116 after a number of high-class performances including a smooth win in Goodwood’s Group 1 Nassau Stakes.
When the ground is on the slow side the draw is proving crucial at Headquarters so with a view to the ante-post market one can only hope that decent conditions will prevail for the first classic of the season open to fillies only. With bookmakers going 7-1 the field this years race looks one of the most open in living memory with the classic trials and gallop reports sure to be vital ingredients in shaping the contest over the next month or so. Godolphin’s Certify has been towards the head of the betting since winning the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket last August but the Elusive Quality filly has a similar profile to the stable’s Lyric Of Light and Discourse who both ran atrociously in last year’s race.
The Charles Hills-trained Just The Judge is unbeaten in three starts and was an impressive winner of the Rockfel Stakes last October and that is reflected in the fillie’s price of 7-1, which looks a trifle skinny at this stage of the season. A much better value option at the 14-1 available with several firms including Bet365 and Ladbrokes is the Mikel Dalzangles-trained What A Name. Delzangles is no stranger to Newmarket having saddled Makfi to win the 2010 2000 Guineas and he has made no secret of how highly he rates this daughter of Mr Greeley.
Impressive in winning the Group 3 Prix La Rochette at Longchamp last September What A Name was thrown in against the colts at the same venue when contesting the Group 1 Grand Criterium and although beaten a length and a quarter by Olympic Glory was finishing well in the heavy conditions. Her two wins to date have been on good ground and if the going or the draw fails to be an issue on the first Sunday in May What A Name has an exceptional chance to provide the French with one more 1000 Guineas victory.