Good to see Great Yarmouth back with its racing after the mile straight has been leveled and re-turfed. Let's hope this encourages the high-profile trainers who complained about the surface. Personally, I find it strange ARC found £300,000 to do this work when other courses such as Ripon are much worse. It makes me wonder what they have in mind for this seaside course.
I half intended to go today but with our annual pilgrimage only a couple of weeks away it would be something of an anti climax. Makes me smile to see they start proceedings with a decent two-year-old contest.
Alqubbah is a decent juvenile for Ed Dunlop, one of the better two-year-olds in his stable. This Irish-bred daughter or Arcano was fancied on debut at Newmarket over 6f on good to firm going. She was backed to 7/2 second favourite but seemingly disappointed when trailing behind Mark Johnston's Lumiere, who is a class act. The form of that race has been franked with Sharja Queen and particularly Shadow Hunter, who ran creditably at Listed class when contesting the St Hughes Stakes at Newbury, then triumphant at a similar grade in the Julia Graves Stakes at York. Those initial thoughts that something may have been amiss that day are mostly unfounded. I had my eye on this bay second start and intended to have a decent bet. However, the fact that Hamdan Al Maktoum had Jadaayil priced favourite in the first colours slightly skewed the betting for the lesser fancied in the market. Both juveniles were there on merit and Alqubbah would have gone close if not for being short of room in the closing stages. That was another fine effort and it will take a smart performance to beat Hanagan's mount on the Norfolk coast. Short odds but a worthy favourite.
As always, there are very few easy races these days and two or three opponents are notable.
Aberlady has done nothing wrong in both her starts to date for K Abdullah, trained by Sir Michael Stoute. This home bred daughter of Arch out of the class mare Visit, who won at Group class and was placed multiple times at Group 1, suffered narrow defeats at Newmarket and Kempton, respectively. She was quite well backed on debut when staying on to finish third behind Palenville, who disappointed in the Albany Stakes Group 3 at Royal Ascot. Aberlady was made a 1/2f at Kempton in July but couldn't withstand the late charge of Justice Angel. That filly ran well but defeated next start with an official rating of 77. Connections will be hoping an absence of over fifty days will bring about further improvement. Based on that effort, this bay/brown filly will need to find a couple of lengths to scare the favourite. There is a possibility she was not on song last start or better suited to turf. If available at each way prices there may be a little meat on the bone or a bet to nothing if hitting the frame. I would go with the favourite.
Very interested to see David Lanigan sending Thrilled to make her debut at Yarmouth. He is a difficult trainer to judge and, in general, his debutantes are very hit and miss. They can win when priced at 10/1 & less and a few have won at huge odds. In the good old days at this seaside course he was known to send his better two-year-olds and that aspects in itself gives some confidence. This daughter of Kodiac is out of a multiple-winning mare, who was Listed placed and campaigned at that level although never prevailed. This filly was purchased at the sales by Flaxman Stables Ireland Ltd for 460,000GNS and still in their ownership. They race Duntle, trained by David Watchman, who won at Group 1, an exceptional talented and consistent mare. I know Thrilled has ability and held in high regard by the stable. As with so many debutantes I wouldn't want to jump in at short odds and the bookmakers have this bay filly priced at 4/1. That seems a very skinny price. It may reflect the high regard she is held but it does temper my enthusiasm. Lanigan's debutante record doesn't fill me with confidence and over six furlongs, against decent, fit and ready juveniles, being tardy from the stalls would make this hard work unless a true talent. I have some conflict about this horse with pros and cons. I would take a watching brief but it wouldn't be a surprise to see a sparkling performance.
Roger Varian had a smart winner in Taneen at Newmarket on Saturday, a horse with a string of flashy Group entries. Fourth Way is a daughter of Iffraaj out of a a winning mare who was trained by John Weymes. She was a fair sort who raced at Listed class. This May foal doesn't have any smart entries which may bring slight concerns. The betting is the best guide and if priced 13/2 & less has respectable win and place claims. If weak in the betting I'd take a watching brief.
The last of the interesting juveniles contesting this race for me is Rose Marmara. This home bred daughter of Exceed And Excel is owned by Jaber Abdullah. Richard Fahey is a fine trainer of debutantes. The mare was a sprinter for Mick Channon and won at Listed class and ran at Group level. Has fair win and place claims if fancied in the betting although I'd take a watching brief.
The others are best watched.
Conclusion: A great start for Yarmouth - back on course. I'm excited about this race if not from a betting perspective just to see how a few of these go. Alqubbah sets the standard and will take the beating. She is a talented juvenile who has proven ability and will be fit and primed to run well. The odds are cramped but she is the horse to beat. Aberlady has each way claims although I would take a watching brief. The betting is the best indicator for Fourth Way and Rose Marmara. They would need to be 13/2 & less to register with me. The latter could win outside this betting guide but if both are weak in the betting I'd watch and learn. Thrilled is interesting and I can't wait to see how she fares. Lanigan doesn't strike me as a trainer to win on debut although he can, especially with a talented horse. It is encouraging that he likes to send his better two-year-olds to Yarmouth. That does give more hope than not. A huge price tag and lovely breeding are pointers. This filly is held in high regard at home but can she win on debut? On balance, I would have to take a watching brief at the odds. The favourite is the horse to beat.