Whilst the attention of most was focused on the Aintree Grand National last Saturday a potential 2000 guineas winner ran his trial at Lingfield in a listed stakes race. Van Der Neer was impressive winning despite not handling the bends very well. Handling turns will not be of concern for Van Der Neer on guineas day if lining up to run Newmarkets straight rowley mile. However, trainer Richard Hannon has left Van Der Neer options open saying he could run in the Irish guineas instead! Holdoff on an ante post bet for the time being.

Van Der Neer carried excellent two year old form into his trial race having finished second to current Derby favourite Kingsbarn in the Racing Post Trophy last October. That run was on unsuitable soft ground so it is not beyond the bounds of reality that he can turn the form around with his conqueror Kingsbarn although Kingsbarns might skip the guineas due to a slight set back a few weeks ago.

The guineas favourite Dawn Approach was reported as in great form by trainer Jim Bolger this week. He is the one they all have to beat on two year old form. However, we all know that many precocious two year olds do not improve as much as expected to follow up with a brilliant three year old campaign.  Johannesburg springs to mind as a recent example. Dawn Approach was purchased by Godolphin last summer but has not being switched to a Godolphin trainers yard. That move may pay dividends as Jim Bolger is one of the best in the business if not the best. All considered the best price of 7/4 to win the English 2000 guineas is madness.

The Ballysax  Stakes Derby trial takes place this Sunday at Leopardstown. This trial race has thrown up Derby winners like Galileo & High Chaparral along with other stars like Yeats & Fame & Glory. On Sunday potential stars like Trading Leather, Sugar Boy and Battle of Marengo are declared to run. Paddy Prendergast is not sure if Sugar Boy will run as he is a little behind so it might be a Bolger V O’Brien battle with the pair of trainers responsible for nine of the last fourteen winners!


Eye Catchers Report Aintree Festival & Weekend 6th / 7th April

 Holywell – Trainer – Jonjo O’Neill – Jockey Tony McCoy

Holywell ran another huge race to finish second against his elders in the Grade 1 staying hurdle at Aintree. Solwhit was different class but Holywell beat the consistent Smad Place for second place and that is very good form. Smad Place has placed third in the last two running s of the World Hurdle so he is no back number with a rating of 158. Holywell’s rating jumped 12lbs to 152 following his Pertemps final win over three miles at the Cheltenham festival.  The handicapper has raised him a further 7lbs for his effort at Aintree to a new high of 159. He can win a graded staying hurdle race next season if kept to hurdles.


Solwhit – Trainer Charles Byrnes – Jockey Paul Carberry

Solwhit proved beyond doubt that he is a class act over 3 miles with stamina to burn. There was a doubt that his world hurdle win was a result of the very slow early pace setting the race up for speedsters like him & Celestial Halo. Well the Aintree Hurdle was run at a good clip and the result was the same. Solwhit arrived late from off the pace to win comfortably. The handicapper has revised his rating to 167 which puts him second only to the 174 rated Big Bucks in the staying division.  A match with wonder mare Quevega at the Punchestown festival looks likely at the moment and his rating should rise another few pounds if he can beat her giving five pounds to her.

Van Der Neer – Trainer Richard Hannon – Jockey Richard Hughes

Van Der Neer showed a nice turn of foot to win the guineas trial at Lingfield easily. The leader was given a huge lead rounding the final bend with Van Der Neer running a little wide and unbalanced. Once he got into the straight proper the picked up the leader easily without the use of the stick. Richard Hughes rode him like a very good horse and that is how he won. He is one for the shortlist for whether he lines up in the Irish or English guineas. His trainer has not committed to either at this point in time. Richard Hughes mentioned that he will improve a lot for this run and really appreciated the firmer surface at Lingfield compared to the soft/heavy at Doncaster when Second in the Racing Post Trophy.


Others that really impressed but are already on our Eye Catchers list were The New One, My Tent Or Yours, At Fishers Cross, Sprinter Sacre, Cue Card, First Lieutenant, Menorah (jumping still an issue), Captain Conan, Dynaste & Zarkandar. Let’s hope some of them run at the upcoming Punchestown festival.

Til next week,