May Highlights

Saturday 6 May

Newmarket (6th-7th)

Can memories of Frankel’s astonishing demolition job in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas be revived on the Rowley Mile just six years on from that amazing performance?

His son Eminent has emerged as a leading contender for this year’s race when taking the Craven Stakes over course and distance in April and trainer Martyn Meade is full of confidence as he bids to make his first Group One winner a Classic hero.

Other leading players in the race include the Aidan O’Brien-trained Churchill, a prolific winner as a two-year-old and seemingly just the type to go on to greater things at three – but didn’t we all say the same thing about the spectacular flop Air Force Blue at this time last year?

Saturday’s action is supported the Palace House Stakes (1000m) and the Jockey Club Stakes (2400m), Andre Fabre took the latter contest twice in the past decade and he the French champion plans to saddle runners again this year – his representatives at Newmarket must always be respected.

The second Classic of the season takes place 24 hours later with the QIPCO 1000 Guineas the highlight of the second day. Betting for the fillies’ showpiece over 1600m is currently dominated by Aidan O’Brien’s Rhododendron, who rounded off her two-year-old campaign with Group One success in the Fillies’ Mile over Guineas track and trip. This contest hasn’t proved as easy to win for O’Brien as most of the Classics though, with the trainer having saddled just two previous winners – Virginia Waters in 2005 and Homecoming Queen in 2012.

The main supporting event on the card is the Group Two Charm Spirit Dahlia Stakes over 1800m.

 

Sunday 7 May

Leopardstown

A curious clash of the calendars mean that while the 1000 Guineas is taking place, Leopardstown stages a card that features a trial for the Irish equivalent later in the month.

The meeting features three Group Three events, the Ard Glen Amethyst Stakes (1600m), the Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial (1600m) and the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial (2000m). All are good prizes in their own right and the last named has been won by the likes of Sinndar, Galileo, High Chaparral, Fame And Glory and Fascinating Rock since the turn of the century. Originally called the Nijinsky Stakes when first run in 1971, the race was named in honour of the previous year’s Triple Crown hero.

 

Wednesday 10 May

Chester (10th - 12th)

The three-day May meeting at Chester is one of the highlights of the spring with the picturesque and historic venue always drawing in massive crowds.

The feature of the opening day is the 188Bet Chester Cup, a 3750m handicap which has been staged since 1824. Two years ago, Trip To Paris came out on top before going on to land the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, so it can attract some high-class performers and a number of trainers with smart and progressive stayers will have had the date circled in their diaries for some time.

The Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks, a Listed event over 2350m, will see some Epsom aspirants put their credentials on the line, while the Stellar Group Lily Agnes Stakes (1000m) gives some of the speedier juveniles a chance to strut their stuff.

The main event on day two is the MBNA Chester Vase, a 2400m Group 3 event for three-year-olds. A recognised trial for the Investec Derby, the race has been dominated by Aidan O’Brien in recent times, the Ballydoyle handler having won seven of the last 10 renewals. In 2013, his Ruler Of The World scored at Epsom having learnt a bit about handling tight bends on his way to victory in this race.

There is also Group Three action for the older horses with the Huxley Stakes, run over 2050m, providing the support for the main event.

The meeting concludes on Friday with the Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes (Group 3, 2650m) and the Homeserve Dee Stakes (Listed, 2050m) the star attractions. Again Aidan O’Brien has been the man to follow in the latter contest, although with five wins he has some way to go to match Barry Hills, who sent out the winner 10 times between 1970 and 2002

 

Saturday 13 May

Ascot

Ascot stages one of their big handicaps of the season in the shape of the Totepool Victoria Cup. Run over 1400m, the valuable contest always attracts a big field and often serves as a pointer to the Royal Hunt Cup the following month.

The Buckhound Stakes, a Listed event over 2400m, is the main supporting race.

 There is a rare mixed card at Haydock Park, where the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (registered as the Swinton Hurdle) is the feature jumps race while the Listed Pertemps Network Spring Trophy, a Listed event over 1400m, provides some quality action for Flat fans to get stuck into. Last year’s race was won by the David O’Meara-trained So Beloved.

 

Wednesday 17 May

York (17th -19th)

Racing returns to York for the Dante meeting and three days of top-class sport at a wonderful venue look assured.

The main event on the opening day is the Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes, a Group Two prize over 1200m. Last year’s winner Magical Memory is due to line up in this race, where he is set to cross swords with a number of other high-class sprinters.

The Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (Group Three, 2100m) is one of the key Investec Oaks trials and John Gosden, successful in four of the last six renewals, is surely likely to be strongly represented again.

Day two of the meeting sees the Betfred Dante take centre stage. Two years ago it was that man Gosden again who saddled the 1-2 with Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs going on to fill the same positions at Epsom in the Investec Derby and it has been a rich source of future Derby winners down the years. Gosden also won last year’s race with Wings Of Desire.

The Group Two Betfred Middleton Stakes, a 2100m event for fillies and mares, provides an excellent supporting feature.

The Betway Yorkshire Cup is the main event of the final day of the meeting. The 2800m Group Two is often a starting point for some of the better stayers and the remarkable Sheikhzayedroad could take in this year’s race on his way back to the Gold Cup at Ascot.

 

Saturday 20 May

Newbury

All eyes will be on Newbury as the first British Group One of the season for the older horses takes place – the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes over 1600m.

Hugo Palmer feels Galileo Gold is ready to do himself justice in the race having rediscovered the "magic" in his association with Frankie Dettori.

After winning the QIPCO 2000 Guineas on his first outing last year, along with landing the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Newmarket handler is hoping he can capture more top-level glory here.

Owned by the race sponsors, the son of Paco Boy stepped up his preparations when taking part in a recent racecourse gallop over a mile at Newmarket under Dettori.

 

Saturday 27 May

Haydock Park

Haydock Park stages one of its big days of the Flat season with the Armstrong Group Temple Stakes, a Group Two event over 1000m, the highlight of a cracking afternoon’s sport. The brilliant Quiet Reflection, a star of the sprinting scene last season, could line up this year according to trainer Karl Burke.

There is also Listed action for the fillies and mares in the shape of the Cecil Frail Stakes, while the Betfred Mobile Silver Bowl Stakes is a high-class three-year-old handicap which regularly throws up a future Pattern-race performer.

 

 

Saturday 27 May

Curragh (27th-28th)

A big weekend of racing in Ireland with the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas, Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas and Tattersalls Gold Cup all taking place at The Curragh. There’s little doubt that Aidan O’Brien will be the man to beat – a record of ten 2000 Guineas wins, six 1000 Guineas wins and six Tattersalls Gold Cups is a testament to his domination of this fixture in the last 20 years. However, the trainer failed to win any of the prizes 12 months ago and his prospects of dominating of the meeting will become considerably clearer after some of his potential runners have shown what they can do at Newmarket three weeks earlier.

 

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