France may hold the cartes in 1000 Guineas
The betting market for Sunday's 1000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket is largely concentrating on two fillies who are lightly-raced with two starts apiece: Tenebrism and Tuesday.
Perhaps it would be fairer to say that Tenebrism and Tuesday are getting the bulk of the attention because they are trained by Aidan O'Brien, who has won five of the last six runnings of the one-mile classic.
Either one might prove up to the task, but the likely prices on both won't be attractive in light of the questions surrounding them. Tenebrism has never raced beyond six furlongs, while recent maiden winner Tuesday has never run in a stakes and might be more of an Epsom Oaks (G1) type.
There are no shortage of rivals with a combination of seasoning and confirmed ability over a mile. Most of the better-looking ones are also based in Ireland, but France will be represented by a couple solid contenders as well.
My choice from the latter group is #14 Zellie (10-1), who will be making her eighth career start on Sunday. The daughter of Wootton Basset has four wins and three seconds so far, with her signature victory coming in the one-mile Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) on Arc Day last October.
Out of a half-sister to 2006 Guineas winner Speciosa and from the family of the world-class mare Pride, Zellie can turn the tables on Malavath, the other French raider who proved 1 1/2 lengths best in their mutual prep, the April 7 Prix Imprudence (G3) at Deauville.
With trainer Andre Fabre having targeted this race for some time, it stands to reason Zellie probably wasn't fully cranked to prevail in the Imprudence. It appeared a good prep, nonetheless, and she can move forward from it.
The main concern is that the ground at Newmarket is likely to be the quickest Zellie has ever encountered. Whether she handles it or not remains to be seen, but Fabre probably wouldn't have proceeded if he didn't think she could.
Zellie's only race on ground better than soft was in her second career start at Saint-Cloud. She won, albeit in slow time for seven furlongs, though that's a long distance for two-year-olds to negotiate in early June.
Possessing a decent turn of foot, the hope is Zellie will produce it in the final stages of the 1000 Guineas at a nice price.