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Duty Continues to Look Special Ahead of 1000 Guineas

Special Duty, winter favourite for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 2nd, has been pleasing her Chantilly-based trainer Criquette Head-Maarek ahead of a return to full training this season, writes Elliot Slater.

The French filly had an excellent juvenile season culminating in an impressive victory over the smart Misheer in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes over six furlongs of Newmarket's Rowley Mile course. Caught in the dying strides on her previous outing in the Prix Morny, the daughter of Hennessy has reportedly thrived this winter and is bang on target to go for classic glory in the spring.

Head-Maarek, who has won the 1000 Guineas on three previous occasions with Ma Biche (1983), Ravinella (1988) and Hatoof (1992), reports that the filly has been out hacking and has strengthened up significantly from last term.

The plan is to give Special Duty just one run prior to Newmarket, taking in the Prix Imprudence at Maison Laffite in April, a well regarded classic trial, allowing an ideal break ahead of the fillies' mile championship.

Generally on offer at just 4/1, it is 14/1 bar Special Duty in the ante-post lists for the race, with Aidan O'Brien's Lilly Langtry and Luca Cumani's flashy chestnut Seta heading the remainder of the contenders at this stage.

Bookmakers are staring down the barrel of a gun with clear favourites for the first two classics of the British flat racing season. Should they both win, there will be a massive payout. Special Duty has been backed to the exclusion of virtually anything else for the 1000 Guineas, while Ballydoyle's St Nicholas Abbey is only 7/2 to land the 2000 Guineas and just 5/2 to take the Epsom Derby.

However, before the Classics get underway there are still the showpiece events of the National Hunt season to look forward to.


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