Luke Morris thinks this filly can surprise a few at Chelmsford this weekend


It has been a quiet week for me and I hope to be back in action next week but being off has given me the chance to catch up on the Classic trials at Newmarket.

It’s always a fascinating part of any Flat season when these horses are tested to see if they are up to Classic standard and I still think the trials are useful and informative contests, if not essential to finding the winners of the Guineas.

They’re not as well supported as they used to be but they are useful. Now and again you see a class horse come out of races like the Craven and the Feilden Stakes that can make an impact in the Classics, like Golden Horn last year.

They’re also useful in that you give you a chance to test the form of some of the horses that aren’t there, such as Air Force Blue and Minding this year. Nathra winning the Nell Gwyn on Tuesday was not only a good performance but she gave you a pointer to Minding, who beat her in the Fillies’ Mile.

Different trainers have a different approach to the Classic trials and there doesn’t seem any hard and fast rules when it comes to success. Someone like Richard Hannon always targets the trials and he likes to give his Classic runners that sharpener beforehand. Whereas someone like Aidan O’Brien always seems to like to go straight for the Guineas. That’s probably because his horses have a long year and you see a lot of their horses still going strong at the Breeders’ Cup in November.

I thought Nathra put in a good performance to win the Nell Gwyn but what I really felt it did was boost the form of Minding. I think she will be really tough to beat in the Guineas and was one of my horses to follow a couple of weeks ago. Nathra does seem good on soft ground though, so if it came up like that at Newmarket she could well close the gap on Minding.

Newbury’s Friday meeting was abandoned, but Saturday has now been moved to Chelmsford on the all-weather, where there are more Classic trials with the Dubai Duty Free Stakes and JLT Greenham Stakes to look forward to, but I’m not sure there’s a real Guineas contender in the line-up for either race.

In the Dubai Duty Free I think Sharja Queen is one that might be a sleeper. She won her maiden on heavy ground and the ground was going to be bottomless if the meeting went ahead at Newbury on Saturday. Despite the switch in surface, I think she could be one to improve in future. The word in Newmarket is that she has been working well so she is one to keep an eye on and surprise a few of us.

Knife Edge is due to go in the Greenham Stakes and I think he’s capable of better than when I rode him at Kempton last time. He was too fresh with me and will have improved for that run. He was going back to seven furlongs from a mile which will be a plus for him.

Of the rest I’m not too sure about them as Classic horses but given the choice of rides I’d have probably go for Tasleet. He’s the form horse and is a solid choice.

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