The second day of the Craven Meeting features the big race of the week, the race in which this three-day fixture gets it’s name, the Craven Stakes which is the highlight of our Newmarket Tips. Last year it was won by Derby hero Masar with subsequent four-time Group 1 winner Roaring Lion back in third.
Supporting the big contest is the Abernant Stakes where Brando will be hoping to take the trophy home for the third consecutive year.
A single race from Cheltenham on ITV4 as Mister Whitaker will look to get back to winning ways in the Silver Trophy Chase after flopping over further at the Festival last month. Wenyerreadyfreddie beat Aintree winner Kildisart on his penultimate start while Highway One O One is a generally consistent type in what looks to be a very competitive affair.
Brando is aiming to make it three wins in a row in the Abernant Stakes, but this is quite possibly the strongest renewal of the lot. Dreamfield heads the dangers having been one of the gambles of the season when narrowly denied in the Wokingham Stakes last year. Plus Gifted Master has won no less than five times on the Rowley Mile and could be hard to peg back from the front.
The big race of the week is the Craven Stakes where the once-raced Zakouski will be popular having beaten a previous winner at Kempton. But his owner-mate Royal Marine is already a Group 1 winner and can easily be forgiven a below-par effort on the dirt at Meydan last time. Hugo Palmer’s Set Piece is unbeaten in two starts and looks a smart sort in the making, partnered by Frankie Dettori.
Today’s NAP runs in the evening at Southwell and it’s Inspired Thought. She made a winning debut earlier on in the month over the same course and distance, only pushed out to win after travelling all over her rivals. Her chief market rival clocked a slower time despite carrying less weight on his debut, so Inspired Thought holds all the aces here.
We also have an ITV best bet which runs in the big race of the day, the Craven Stakes at Newmarket. Royal Marine is the only horse in the race that brings Group 1 form into the contest when he beat Broome (who has since won a Group 3 by eight-lengths) in France. He sets a clear form standard and could just be in a different league to today’s rivals.
At Cheltenham, Solstice Star definitely looks one to keep an eye on, even though he flopped on heavy ground over hurdles last time, it’s an easy effort to forgive. On his penultimate outing he was a staying on winner over fences, on good ground over three miles.
The second and third have both won since and a 4lb rise for Solstice Star doesn’t look harsh at all, with similar conditions today it’d be a surprise to see him not go well once more.
Not only has Brando won the last two renewals of the Abernant Stakes, his trainer Kevin Ryan has won four of the last five!
Saeed bin Suroor has won the “Confined” Novice Stakes in three of the last four years and saddles just one runner in the contest.