Charlie McCann sizes up the likely winners on Craven Stakes day
Today’s feature race at Newmarket the Group 3 Craven Stakes is an established trial for next month’s 2000 Guineas although the last horse to win both races was Haafhd back in 2004. The ground was quickening up in the warm spring sunshine yesterday and conditions look sure to be on the fast side of good come post time.
John Gosden’s Roaring Lion (3.35) lost his unbeaten record when runner up in the Gp 1 Racing Post Trophy behind Guineas second favourite Saxon Warrior back in October. The colt had previously won the Gp2 Royal Lodge Stakes over today’s C&D and that form was franked on Tuesday when the third horse – Mark Johnston’s Mildenburger – won the listed Feilden Stakes over an additional furlong.
The selection is 4/7 at BetVictor for today’s race and 6/1 for the first classic of the season back here next month. The noises coming out of Newmarket suggest he is in good form on the home gallops but he must transfer that homework to the track.
I am looking forward to seeing the racecourse debut of Military Band (2.25) a half-brother to the brilliant Cracksman in the Wood Ditton Stakes. The betting will provide valuable clues as to the ability of these unraced three-year-olds with the Frankel colt Surya holding Dante and Derby entries for Gosden. Surya’s dam Sariska was a dual Oaks winner who loved soft ground and it is possible that her colt will need further in time.
French raider Le Brivado (5/2 at BetVictor) has not been seen since justifying short-priced favouritism in the Jersey Stakes (7f) at Royal Ascot last summer but is the one to beat – although 5/2 looks short enough for a colt who showed he gets a mile when finishing runner up in the French Guineas last spring.
I am hopeful of a big run from Sir Dancealot (3.00) who I believe will be best served by a fast-run six furlongs this season although he was campaigned mostly over an additional furlong last term. The selection can be slowly away, which is a concern in this class, but has a high cruising speed and I hope he can reward each way support at 16/1 with BetVictor.
There is an all-mares card at Cheltenham and Dame De Compaigne (2.05) can land the opener for Nicky Henderson. The selection won at Uttoxeter back in November on good ground and was a very good second at Ascot when last seen back in February on ground softer than ideal.
Dame Rose won the Mares Aintree Bumper 12 months ago and will love underfoot conditions but carries a 5lbs penalty for her Newbury listed success back in December – that just sways me towards the Henderson runner.
Eighteen to post for the listed Handicap Hurdle and Petticoat Tails (3.15) finished third in the aforementioned Aintree Bumper 12 months ago and ran a good race when fifth in a similar contest to today’s at Newbury last month. The selection is 3lbs higher, but the hope is that today’s better ground will lead to significant improvement.
The selection is 11/1 with BetVictor and is the each way recommendation with Majestic Moll and Oscar Rose suggested as two of the main dangers in this ultra-competitive event.
Maid Of Milan has cheek-pieces fitted for the first time and she will certainly appreciate the drying ground but Same Circus (3.50) can defy a 7lbs rise for her latest Bangor success for Donald McCain. The selection is on a hat-trick and whilst both her recent wins have been gained on soft ground, the mare does have winning form on good ground.
Sister Sibyl (5.00) travelled well but failed to get home at Warwick last time over an additional half mile and I hope she can go one better this afternoon off her featherweight for Hughie Morrison.
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