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GUINEAS FESTIVAL: Early Lookahead | 2,000 & 1,000 Guineas

The first two Classics get underway at Newmarket this weekend with the Guineas Festival taking place on Saturday and Sunday

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2D4PBEW St Mark's Basilica ridden by Frankie Dettori (right) wins The Darley Dewhurst Stakes from Wembley ridden by Ryan Moore (left) at Newmarket Racecourse.

Before proceedings at Epsom for the Derby Festival, the Classic focus lies in wait at Newmarket this weekend with the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas taking place, respectively.

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The Suffolk showpiece takes place on its usual date on the opening weekend of May following its rescheduled shift last season as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Remaining behind-closed-doors this weekend, prize money for the feature contests this weekend are back up to north of £400,000 compared to the quarter-of-a-million prize pool up for grabs eleven months ago.

WATCH: KAMEKO WON THE 2020 RENEWAL OF THE 2,000 GUINEAS UNDER OISIN MURPHY [CREDIT: RACING TV]

Aidan O’Brien’s Wembley currently tops the betting for Saturday’s main event, having finished second in the National Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes as a two-year-old.

Aidan O'Brien Trainer
Aidan O’Brien has trained 4 of the last 6 winners of the 2,000 Guineas

He reversed the form somewhat with Joseph O’Brien’s Thunder Moon on the Rowley Mile, but stable-mate St Mark’s Basilica took the spoils back in October under Frankie Dettori and is also a prominent figure in the market.

Horse Racing - 2013 Craven Meeting - Day Two - Newmarket Racecourse
The Guineas Festival kickstarts on Saturday afternoon at 1:15pm

Battleground was a super winner of the Chesham at Royal Ascot before landing the Vintage at Glorious Goodwood, and he hardly disgraced himself in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf when finishing second under Ryan Moore, but he’s been very weak in the market ahead of this weekend’s clash.

Of the British contenders, the big news this week was that Godolphin’s retained pilot William Buick has opted for recent Craven successor Master Of The Seas over the fellow Charlie Appleby colt One Ruler.

Master Of The Seas ridden by William Buick riding (centre) win The bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse. Picture date: Thursday April 15, 2021.
William Buick will ride Master Of The Seas in this weekend’s 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket

Clive Hill’s unbeaten Mutasaabeq is also an intriguing contender having won both of his races at this course, while Richard Hannon’s Chindit bounced back to form at Newbury in the Greenham Stakes last time out.

Winning trainer in 2020, Andrew Balding’s hopes of retaining the Guineas crown lie on current 100-1 shot Mystery Smiles.

WATCH: GUINEAS HOPEFUL CHINDIT WINS THE GREENHAM STAKES UNDER PAT DOBBS [CREDIT: RACING TV]
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In the fillies’ Group 1 equivalent on Sunday, the one-raced Santa Barbara has been the source of favouritism for a while despite her relative inexperience, but her handler has won four of the last 5 renewals of the contest.

WATCH: LOVE LANDED THE GUINEAS AND OAKS DOUBLE IN 2020 [CREDIT: RACING TV]

Fillies’ Mile winner Pretty Gorgeous bids to give Joseph O’Brien a first victory in this race as a trainer, with Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free the most prominent British figure in the market so far.

Pretty Gorgeous wins the Fillies' Mile
1,000 Guineas second-favourite Pretty Gorgeous ridden by Shane Crosse won The bet365 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket Racecourse

Recent Nell Gwyn heroine Sacred shed her bridesmaid tag at the course earlier this month for William Haggas, finishing ahead of Jane Chapple-Hyame’s Saffron Beach whose unbeaten record came to an end in the process.

Statement, who was beaten by the aforementioned Alcohol Free by a short-head last time out, is set to represent Martyn Meade while Ralph Beckett could saddle Group 3-winning outsider Lullaby Moon.

WATCH: SACRED RALLIES WELL TO WIN ON HER SEASONAL DEBUT UNDER RYAN MOORE [CREDIT: RACING TV]

There are a total of 16 races across the Guineas Festival card, with eight races taking place on each day.

Saturday sees the 2,000 Guineas take place with the Betfair Exchange Jockey Club Stakes, before the 1,000 Guineas and Betfair Dahlia Stakes follow on Sunday afternoon.

The fourth and fifth Classics, exclusive to three-year-old’s, then occurs on the 4th and 5th June, respectively, when Epsom Downs hosts the Derby Festival later this year.

Dominic Chapman is senior content writer at Low6 with a passion for horse racing. He provides a NAP and NB every day throughout the week on selected National Hunt and Flat cards in both Britain and Ireland. Additionally, he hosts the Paddock Picks Podcast with former Welsh Grand National-winning pilot, Charlie Poste - the pair interviewing and discussing current racing topics with a special guest every week.

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