05/07/2017 4:21PM

Winter leads one-two finish for O'Brien in English 1000 Guineas


The 3-year-old filly Winter won the English 1000 Guineas by two lengths over her stablemate Rhododendron on Sunday at Newmarket Racecourse.

Winter gave trainer Aidan O’Brien a sweep of the two English Guineas races this weekend after Churchill had won the 2000 Guineas on Saturday. O’Brien ran one-two in Sunday’s race as Rhododendron finished second, meaning O’Brien-trained fillies have taken five of the six top placings in the race the last two years following O’Brien’s sweep of the top three spots in 2016.

It was Rhododendron who was solidly favored to win Sunday’s race, a straight-course mile run over good-to-firm going, but O’Brien had offered positive signs on Winter in the days leading up to the race. Winter had started her 3-year-old season finishing a close second to the O’Brien-trained Hydrangea in Ireland, but Winter had raced wide without cover in that race, and improved to turn in a career-best performance Sunday.

Under Wayne Lordan, Winter raced from mid-pack while staying in the clear, made a bid for the front a little more than two furlongs from the finish, and then stayed on strongly through the final uphill portions of the Guineas to win decisively.

Her margin surely would have been shorter had Rhododendron not encountered trouble, although Winter was dominant enough that even a clean run might well have left Rhododendron slightly short of victory. As it was, Rhododendron and Ryan Moore went for a hole between horses about a quarter-mile from the finish and did not make it, Moore having to steady and steer for another path. By the time Rhododendron had located an alley, the winner was gone.

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Rhododendron was a neck better than Daban, who turned in a solid showing for trainer John Gosden, while Talaayeb came home a creditable fourth while making only her second career start. Winter, by Galileo out of Ladies Poker Two, by Choisir, won for the second time in five starts while annexing her first stakes. Winter, owned by Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, and was trained at 2 by David Wachman, who retired at the end of 2016.

Earlier on the card, O’Brien and Moore teamed to win the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes over nine furlongs with the 4-year-old filly Somehow.