Nell Gwyn Stakes Betting

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The long winter months finally come to an end when the racing season gets under way in earnest at Newmarket with the historic two-day Craven Meeting in mid-April. Among its featured events on opening day is one of the key trials for the 1000 Guineas—the seven-furlong Nell Gwyn Stakes for three-year-old Thoroughbred fillies.

This £50,000 Group 3 event takes place on the straight turf of Newmarket’s famed Rowley Mile. Each of the starters carries eight stone twelve pounds, with a three-pound penalty applied to any winners of previous Group 1 or Group 2 events.

Inaugurated in 1961, this race takes its name from the mistress of King Charles II, British actress Nell Gwyn (1650–1687). Many racing professionals regard the Craven Meeting and this sprint as the true start of the new flat racing season. It is the first opportunity to see the U.K.’s top trainers reveal their potential stars, and the winners here often continue to great achievements.

For example, Pebbles got her maiden victory here in 1984. She went on to win not only the 1000 Guineas that year but also next year’s Sandown Mile, Champion Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Meanwhile, the 1985 winner of the Nell Gwyn Stakes, Oh So Sharp, found success in the 1000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks and the St. Leger Stakes before the year was out—the fillies’ version of the Triple crown. And the most recent champion of the 1000 Guineas to come from a win here was Speciosa in 2006.

Some of Britain’s top breeders have had a turn at sponsoring this event. In the 1980s, Juddmonte Farms took the lead, and from 1991 to 2007 it was Shadwell Stud in the title role. In 2008-10, the race was known as the Leslie Harrison Memorial Nell Gwyn Stakes, and in 2011 Lanwades Stud backed the event.

One jockey has found more success here than all others. That’s Lester Piggott with five wins in total. His first was aboard Super Honey in 1971, followed by triumphs on Rose Bowl in 1975, Fairy Footsteps in 1981, Chalon in 1982 and Niche in 1993. Frankie Dettori stands as a distant second with three wins: Crystal Gazing in 1991, Valentine Waltz in 1999 and Fantasia in 2009.

Among trainers, Henry Cecil leads all with seven victories to his credit. He delivered Caspian in 1973 and then four in a row from 1979 to 1982 with One in a Million, Evita, Fairy Footsteps and Chalon. Oh So Sharp was schooled by Cecil, too, as was the 1987 victor here, Martha Stevens.

Throughout the afternoon of the Craven Meeting’s opening day, plenty of changes occur to the ante-post betting market for 1000 Guineas, which is held on the Rowley Mile two and a half weeks later. Look for some surprises to influence the odds, such as 66/1 Kylayne giving favoured Infallible a scare in 2008 before falling back to finish second to the 7/2 bay mare, or 14/1 Barefoot Lady upsetting the 9/4 favourite Sing Softly in the 2011 edition.

On the morning of the Nell Gwyn Stakes, visitors to the Newmarket Racecourse can see young horses canter past the Rowley Mile grandstand. Potential purchasers and nervous breeders will be on hand in force. Then, following the afternoon of racing, two-year-olds by the dozen will be sold at Europe’s premier bloodstock auctioneers, Tattersalls, who are located just a mile from the track, and next year’s Nell Gwyn Stakes winner just might be among them.

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