Roger Varian’s unbeaten three-year-old filly Qabala shot to the head of this year’s 1000 Guineas market on Tuesday after taking the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes in fine style under young jockey David Egan.
In taking the feature race for owner Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the daughter of Scat Daddy was landing a huge gamble as her morning odds of 8/1 had tumbled before the off and she was sent out of the stalls the 100/30 favourite on the back of just a maiden win at HQ last September.
Despite a slowish start as the gates opened, Qabala quickly got into a rhythm and showed no signs of the greenness many had expected given her inexperience as she weaved her way strongly through the field before getting to the lead just inside the furlong pole and stretching out for a convincing victory, ultimately 1¾ lengths ahead of stablemate Mot Juste.
Before the Nell Gwyn the 1000 Guineas market had been a pretty stagnant one with no contenders really sticking their heads above the parapet, and while Qabala’s win doesn’t mean we should all be running to the local betting office to throw the mortgage on her for the big one on May 5th, she is clearly now the outstanding candidate.
In proving her liking for this track not once but twice now, Qabala has managed to show the best form on offer and that is quite remarkable when you consider a few things; she had not even come into her coat before the Nell Gwyn, made a slow start and yet readily brushed aside the strongest trial contenders thus far on only her second racecourse start.
Clearly a lot can happen between now and the Guineas but on this performance, if you were to hold a gun to the head of most pro backers and told them they had to have a bet in the race right now she would be the name 75% of them would now give you.
Quotes of 6/1 and 7/1 were commonplace straight after Tuesday’s event with 12/1 still available in places, but that’s all gone now as Qabala sits atop the market a general 4/1 and 9/2 chance ahead of the resurgent John Oxx’s Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Skitter Scatter at 7/1 and Aidan O’Brien’s Just Wonderful at 8/1.
Scat Daddy has been a revelation at stud and a look at the best of his progeny thus far makes for great reading for Qabala’s supporters.
Mendelssohn, Lady Aurelia, Caravaggio and Triple Crown winner Justify all registered similar figures at this time of year to what Qabala achieved at Newmarket before going on to record 120+ ratings in top class races late in the spring or early in the summer, something that would undoubtedly mean victory for connections in the first fillies’ classic of the year should she do the same.