Qipco 2000 Guineas
(Group 1)

NOTABLE Speech (Charlie Appleby/William Buick), a 16-1 chance, became the first horse to win the 2000 Guineas having raced only on the all-weather previously (matching Ghanaati’s feat in the 2009 1000 Guineas). The son of Dubawi was unraced as a juvenile but has now won all four starts in 2024 having landed a hat-trick of wins at Kempton. Weak in the market, he travelled well behind the pace at Newmarket and came with a strong burst to overhaul Rosallion (Richard Hannon/Sean Levey) in last furlong, going away at the finish to score by a length and a half with another one and three-quarter lengths back to the runner-up’s stablemate Haatem (James Doyle) in third.

Inisherin made the running on what was also his turf debut and was still there at the furlong pole before weakening into sixth, and that helped provide a framework for the race, with Haatem and Alyanaabi tracking him while the winner and second were held up. City Of Troy raced in the front rank for five furlongs before fading gradually, and ended up finishing a poor ninth of the 11 runners, with Aidan O’Brien unable to offer any excuse other than that the Dewhurst winner had got a bit worked up in the stalls. Ghostwriter took the eye in the preliminaries and also made the notebook in the race itself after finishing a creditable fourth. He took quite a strong hold in the early stages and had no extra to offer only in the last half furlong. He’s out of a one-and-a-half-mile winner and should progress again when stepping up in trip.

Notable Speech was a second winner in the 2000 Guineas for trainer Charlie Appleby following Coroebus, and a first for William Buick, who deserted Coroebus for Pinatubo in the 2022 renewal, and the winning jockey reflected on previous near misses.

“It was a tough race,” said Buick. “But I’m glad we came here. It’s amazing. I’ve finished second twice so I know how it feels to go back in having not won it - I’ve never had a ride like him ever before. I’m over the moon.

“It’s a huge team effort for this horse to come here today. I’m delighted for myself but I’m also delighted for everyone who’s involved with the horse. Notable Speech is a proper miler and he’s certainly the fastest miler I’ve ever ridden - I think he can do things other horses can’t with his turn of foot.

“He took a different route into the Guineas but Charlie, the team and myself had a lot of belief in him and he’s just a great horse. He did everything right today. Not just for myself but for everyone, he looked impressive. He’s a real jockey’s dream and I’m absolutely delighted.”

“I’m sure they’ll be thinking about the St James’s Palace and those kinzzraces. He’s a proper miler. Charlie had one eye on the Greenham for him but he was worried about the heavy ground at Newbury, hence he ran at Kempton. So, I thought let’s try and find out something and we found out he has an explosive turn of foot but since then he’s become more of a rounded horse.

“He just dragged me into the race in the hottest part of the race, which is what he did at Kempton in his previous runs. And then he’s pricking his ears at the line – every time you ride him you always feel like there’s more in the tank.”

Shock victory for Seven Questions

THE Group 3 Palace House Stakes has thrown up a few shock results over the years, but the 33/1 SP of Saturday’s winner Seven Questions (George Scott/Callum Shepherd) was the biggest in the race’s 60-year history. Only Standaan in 1981 has started at similar odds in a race first run in 1961, and Seven Questions certainly had it to do on form, having gained his most recent win in a Leicester nursery off a mark of 88 in August 2023.

The three-year-old didn’t know he was the rank outsider, of course, and having raced close to the pace from the off, he edged ahead in a busy finish to win by a head and a short-head from last year’s winner Vadream (Charlie Fellowes/Kieran Shoemark) and Beautiful Diamond (Karl Burke/Clifford Lee). This appears to represent a big improvement in form for the winner, which is not impossible to believe given he’s a three-year-old, but with just a length covering the first seven home in an eight-runner race, this may not be form to nail to the wall just yet.

The winner is a gelding and therefore not qualified to run in the Commonwealth Cup and is not currently entered for the King Charles III Stakes (formerly the King’s Stand), but the owners won that race with Bradsell last year, so it would be no surprise to see him supplemented with no other immediate domestic target on the horizon.

Newmarket Sunday

Elmalka gives Varian a first


Qipco 1000 Guineas (Group 1)

ELMALKA (Silvestre de Sousa) flew home to give Newmarket handler Roger Varian a first win in the Qipco 1000 Guineas Stakes on Sunday.

The daughter of Kingman had finished well to be third in the Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury on her return, and she again came with a wet sail to run down the positively ridden Ramatuelle (Christopher Head/Aurelien Lemaitre) in the dying strides, with Porta Fortuna (Donnacha O’Brien/Tom Marquand) also passing the French filly close home after she had looked to have stolen a winning advantage passing the bushes.

Returned at 28/1, Elmalka was providing a surprise, and looked an unlikely winner when Lemaitre kicked on with two furlongs to run. At that point the speedy Ramatuelle looked sure to win, but her stamina ebbed in the final furlong with Porta Fortuna closing gradually and the inexperienced Elmalka rather more quickly having run green in the middle of the race.

Not only was this a first 1000 Guineas for Varian, but it also marked a first British Classic for de Sousa as he marked his comeback to the domestic scene in the best fashion possible fashion.

Varian said: “It’s not a surprise, I wouldn’t have run her if I didn’t think she’d run well, but you don’t come to these races thinking you’re going to win.

“She ran a big race at Newbury and she was green as grass. Credit to James Doyle as he gave her a super ride that day, he got an education into her and she finished strong. I felt in another 100 yards she might have been a length and a half winner as she was just taking off.

“We weren’t set on running in the Guineas that day, but the turnaround in the filly in the last fortnight has been quite incredible. She looked fantastic and she’d worked well. I was in two minds whether to run her as I wanted to do the right thing by the filly, but that’s why we’re here right, to have a go.

“I was thinking at halfway we weren’t handling the track, but the further we went I thought she was coming into it, in the dip I thought we’d get a place and the final 100 yards I did think we’d get there.

“It’s very special to train a Guineas winner for Sheikh Ahmed, who has supported me all my career and supported Michael Jarvis before me. She’s a homebred filly out of Nahrain, who was my first Group 1 winner in the first year I trained, winning the Prix de l’Opéra.

De Sousa, riding here as retained rider James Doyle was contracted to ride for Wathnan Racing in France, said: “I’ve been riding nice horses in the morning for Roger and in the afternoon as well and I’m just delighted with the opportunities that have been given to me. I’ve been working hard behind the scenes and I’m still able to do it. I’ve just been working hard and said we’d see how the season goes.

“It’s unbelievable, I’ve been trying to win a classic for so long, so it’s great to get one. Coming down into the dip I could see the horses in front weren’t getting away from me and I hoped when I hit the rising ground she would pick up.

“She’s still a bit green and inexperienced, but she ran a good race at Newbury and she’s just learning. She’s really tough and game.”

Morrison aiming high with Stay Alert

AFTER a blank season in 2023, Hughie Morrison advised owners Ben and Sir Martyn Arbib to retire the well-bred Stay Alert, but a change of heart enabled her to get back to winning ways in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes.

Allowed to go off at odds of 5/1, the five-year-old mare had no problem dropping back to nine furlongs, and she ran down the positively ridden Running Lion (John and Thady Gosden/Oisin Murphy) to win decisively by three and a half lengths under a confident David Egan. There was a further five and a half lengths back to the Jack Channon-trained Caernarfon.

Stay Alert was below form after starting slowly on her last two starts but had been a somewhat unlucky loser in the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh in July, and she may head back to that race to give Morrison some catharsis for a reverse which left him smarting at the time.

“We looked after her as a young horse and tried not to run her on fast ground as she’s quite heavy topped, but she’s always had a serious engine,” said the winning trainer. “The family has always stayed so we imagined she’d get a mile and a half, but I’d probably say a mile and a quarter is her perfect trip now.

“She was going to be retired, but Ben and Sir Martyn decided at the last minute they’d have another go. I actually said they ought to retire her because she’s such a beautiful broodmare prospect. I’m very sorry they aren’t here, but I’m sure they’ll be thrilled.

“I suppose the obvious race to run in is the Pretty Polly, in which we were a very unlucky second last year, but she does want decent ground.

“We’ll probably aim pretty high now, we’ll probably look at entering her in the Eclipse and races like that because if it’s soft in Ireland you probably want to go for the Eclipse.”

Friendly Soul proves hard to pass

THE Listed Pretty Polly Stakes is often a useful pointer towards the Oaks at Epsom, and this year’s renewal looked competitive on paper, but ended up being won in good style by Friendly Soul (John and Thady Gosden/Kieran Shoemark), who took her record to two wins in as many runs by beating odds-on favourite Kaldana (Andrew Balding/Ryan Moore). The 10/1 shot was sent on shortly after the start by Shoemark, and while Kaldana – an easy winner at the Craven meeting – threw down a determined challenge in the latter stages, she found more to win by a length and a quarter with the first two a dozen lengths clear.

Owned and bred by racing stalwart George Strawbridge, Friendly Soul is a half-sister to Group 1 winners Call The Wind (Prix du Cadran), We Are (Prix de l’Opéra) and With You (Prix Rothschild) and in winning this contest on just her second start was marking herself as another top-class prospect for the family.

John Gosden was impressed by this performance and is looking at a step up to Group 1 company for Friendly Soul’s next run, which could come in the Prix de Diane at Chantilly next month rather than the Oaks itself.

“I was impressed with the second when she won here at the Craven meeting,” said the senior trainer. “I think it was a solid race today as the front two drew away from the field. Friendly Soul is a lovely filly and I think she is a mile and a quarter filly. She won’t be an Epsom filly but we might make a visit to Chantilly.”