Newmarket’s Craven meeting is always one of the most anticipated of the season for flat fans. Awash with trials for the upcoming Classics, they are an early chance to see how those who made a smart impression as juveniles are able to back it up. We take a look back at the three day meeting from this week to delve deeper into the action and pick out some of the main protagonists for the season ahead, both 3yo’s and juveniles.
Tuesday 18th April
- Feilden Stakes
Khalidi took the step up in class to Listed level in his stride, using his race fitness from a previous run at Doncaster to his advantage, running down Salouen late on. It is difficult to imagine that he will go on to run anywhere close to the level of the last John Gosden/Frankie Dettori winner of this race (Golden Horn) but he evidently relishes quick ground and has a likeable attitude. Salouen improved with racing last season, placing in a pair of Group 1’s. His pedigree suggests a further step up in trip will suit and although more exposed than most, quotes of 66/1 for the Derby seem rather dismissive given he was a neck behind Yucatan in the Racing Post Trophy and that horse is currently 20’s.
- Other Notables
The Wood Ditton is regularly an informative maiden. The front three came clear with Godolphin claiming first and third with Night Circus and Mark Of Approval respectably with both looking capable of making an impression in pattern company. Afaak was the only newcomer in the Alex Scott maiden and having completely blown the start, stayed on in eye-catching fashion. The experience won’t be lost on him and this son of a 1000 Guineas winner shouldn’t be long in winning himself.
Wednesday 19th April
- Free Handicap
Whitecliffsofdover bucked the recent trend as a 3yo son of War Front, improving on his juvenile efforts to score in taking fashion. Connections boast an embarrassment of riches so we are unlikely to see him in a Classic in the UK this season but he is very much a top class horse in the making when the ground is quick.
- Nell Gwyn
A deep looking field in a race run in a quicker time than Whitecliffsofdover produced. Given that Daban won more than a shade cosily having been the last one off the bridle, she looks like a recruit of untapped potential. She is a top priced 14/1 for the 1000 Guineas and that looks more than fair with the likelihood of plenty of improvement to come after just two career starts.
- Other Notables
Formidable Kitt sent out an early warning shot for the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. Her dam won that race and it looks a logical target after a tidy debut. She is still up behind, with plenty of growing to do so she looks well capable of further progression. Mraseel may have finished last but she was the paddock pick, neat and tidy from a quick family, she failed to handle the dip. She is likely to prove much straighter on a flat track next time with that experience behind her.
Thursday 20th April
- Craven Stakes
Bookies have seen plenty of money in recent weeks for a Frankel offspring to win a Classic in 2017 and in Eminent, they have another to fear. Martyn Meade’s colt took the step up to Group 3 class in his stride to add to his maiden win from last Autumn. Beating the Group 1 winner Rivet a shade cosily at the line, there was no fluke about the display and unsurprisingly, he was cut to dispute third favouritism for the 2000 Guineas in the aftermath, an each way bet that is likely to prove very popular with punters. You can keep up to date with all Frankel runners this flat season with our Frankel Foal Tracker.