Desert Force (Richard Hannon)
I was really taken with how the Hannon three-year-old won on the opening day of the meeting in a useful-looking handicap. Under Pat Dobbs this strong, imposing-looking sprinter was into stride quickly. Last off the bridle, the son of Equiano travelled like a dream before staying going to win nicely. Given the size he possesses you’d like to think he’ll improve for the run. Longer-term, it’s hard to say what level he might reach as his dam, Mail The Desert, was a Group 1 winner. Seven furlongs and fast ground suits although he may get a mile. I would say a mark of 94 is workable still
Fabricate (Michael Bell)
I thought this horse made a lovely start to his career in a three-year-old maiden on the Saturday. A little slowly away and appearing to be green he continued his education in the straight. It took a while for the penny to drop under Tom Queally, but he really got the hang of it late and ran on nicely. Despite being a son of Makfi, a previous Guineas winner, he stays very well and twelve furlongs looks to be ideal in the short and medium-term. He may bag a race or two over the summer for his owner, the Queen.
Murgan (Peter Chapple-Hyam)
Ran in the same maiden as Fabricate (above), but was ultimately well-beaten in the end. While it looked like young jockey Oisin Murphy went off far too quick and set the race up for the rest, it looked, to me, that his horse just had an abundance of early speed, and while he was a little keen, the son of Galileo was by no means a runaway. A drop in trip, on decent flat-racing ground, with similar forward-going tactics may be the key. Ten furlongs is as far as he wants to go at this stage and he may even be competitive over a mile. The Qatar Racing Limited-owned colt now has a rating of 82 and that looks workable given his previous form came in useful races.
Muhaarar (Charles Hills)
Going into the Greenham there was plenty of talk about how this race looked the best trial for the Guineas thus far. Coming out of it people didn’t seem so keen, but I liked what I saw from the winner, and runner-up, Estihkaar. Off a strong pace Muhaarar travelled quite keenly, which I can forgive on seasonal debut, but it didn’t stop him from winning. Under Frankie Dettori the Sheik Hamdan-owned equine travelled supremely well before hitting the front and going a length clear. He seemed to idle, get tired close home or maybe shaped like he wouldn’t want to go further. While the case, he wasn’t tying up badly and given it was his debut effort, I’m willing to ignore the above negative possibilities, for now. If in fact he was idling, however, we may have a potential Guineas winner on our hands as the runner-up is a good horse and they came clear of the third, Ivawood, who is rated 117. There is talk of the French 2000 Guineas, but for me, racing around a bend in France will only see his jockey fight him in the early stages, something he doesn’t need, stepping up to a mile for the first time. The straight mile at Newmarket may suit him better, although a good gallop will be needed, and, on home soil, while it is a worry, the effect of the draw is not as strong. A wide draw in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and you’re really fighting an uphill battle. The prospect of better ground in England is also another important variable. Frankie Dettori won’t be able to ride which is a concern, though, as I felt the pair worked nicely. Paul Hangan’s style wouldn’t suit going up in trip so should he take his chance at Newmarket, the magic hands of Jamie Spencer could prove the key. It’s just a suggestion should Sheik Hamdan run the first two at Newmarket given Spencer has ridden winners for Charlie Hills before, but you’d imagine Dane O’Neill will be called as he is Hamdan’s second rider and I like talking bolox occasionally. Should he go, the 20/1 on offer looks big.
Vibe Queen (John Gosden)
A horse of Lady Bamford’s that should be capable of at least breaking her maiden. Ran fourth in a contest won by her stablemate, Yasmeen, who is said to be Coronation Stakes bound at Royal Ascot. It wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if she matched the winner in terms of ability as the daughter of Invincible Spirit came from a fair way back in a race where nothing got involved from off the pace. A step-up to a mile may suit in time and on this run, she looks a useful filly to follow.