Full race preview and free betting tips for the 4.05pm Novae Bloodstock Insurance Craven Stakes at Newmarket.
After the Greenham Stakes at Newbury over the weekend, its Newmarket’s turn to host a recognised trial for the 2,000 Guineas in the form of the Craven Stakes. With Kingman producing a dominant and impressive display on Saturday to shoot to the head of the ante-post markets, a number of possible challengers line-up here aiming to replicate, or even better, his efforts. No horse since Haafhd in 2004 has done the Craven/Guineas double but six horses line-up attempting to change that record.
The obvious place to start is with last year’s Champion 2 year-old – TOORMORE (4/5 Betfred). Trained by Richard Hannon, this son of Arakan remained unbeaten last year, claiming three victories which included successes at both Group 2 and Group 1 level. Rated 122 on official ratings, Toormore has beaten, amongst others; Outstrip (who went on to win the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf), Sudirman (a multiple Group class winner) and Giovanni Boldini (who finished 4th in the UAE Derby). Not only does his form stack up but the manner in which he won his races last year was mightily impressive. After being covered up at Goodwood, Richard Hughes was able to produce the horse and successfully pick off Outstrip in the final few strides, whilst on his final start at the Curragh, despite having to make all, the horse found plenty for pressure and moved clear of his challengers to win by over three lengths. He seems plenty versatile in terms of running style and looks to settle well early on in his races, giving his jockey plenty of options depending on how the race unfolds. The highest rated horse (on RPR) to win this contest since 2004 was Toronado last year who carried a rating of 123. Not only does Toormore represent the same trainer who has won this contest for the last two successive years, he also enters the fray with an RPR of 133. If he retains the ability he showed last year he will have an excellent chance of victory.
His biggest challenger looks to be the interesting son of Exceed and Excel – Be Ready (9/4 William Hill). Godolphin have been quite vocal in terms of the esteem this horse is held in at home and plenty will expect this horse to put in a strong performance to outline his own 2,000 Guineas claims. Beaten on his first start at Newbury by Somewhat, he then improved significantly for the experience and won on his next and final start of the season at Doncaster. That day he beat Barley Mow, another horse of Richard Hannons who is now officially rated on a mark of 110. Be Ready showed a useful turn of foot that day and was produced at the ideal time, getting first run on the race leader. He stayed on strongly when Richard Hughes began his challenge, and in the end ended up winning a shade cosily. Despite the positive vibes that surround this horse, for me he is yet to show the class that Toormore has. Richard Hannon should have a good line on this horse through Barley Mow and it is likely that Toormore will have his measure.
Others to note induce Anjaal (14/1 bet365) and The Grey Gatsby (18/1 Coral). The former is another Hannon runner who arrives here after a successful 2 year-old season. A winner at Group 2 level, he was found wanting little in the Dewhurst and on a line through Outstrip, he should be vulnerable to his stablemate. The latter was narrowly beaten in two Group races before being well held in the Racing Post Trophy. The drying ground should suit but again, he may lack the necessary class to trouble the market principles.
The final two entrants don’t look to have the requisite experience needed to trouble the pair at the head of the betting. Postponed (16/1 SkyBet) has only won a Class 5 maiden to date and, whilst winning his only start well, Patentar (25/1 William Hill) needs to find some 35lbs of improvement to trouble Toormore.
This contest looks to boil down to a match between Be Ready and TOORMORE. The former is an exciting prospect for Godolphin by New Approach and should be one to follow for the rest of the season. The latter however looked very impressive last year. Untested beyond seven furlongs, the manner of his final two starts would lead you to believe he will be suited by a step-up to eight furlongs. On ratings he stands head and shoulders above this field and considering the current good form of his yard I expect him to prove just too good. His odds are relatively restrictive so it may be worthwhile to combine a Craven win with a 2,000 Guineas victory. Providing he secures victory his ante-post odds will shorten and the value should be taken now!
TOORMORE (WIN) (4/5 Betfred)
TOORMORE (DOUBLE WIN) (13/1 Betfred)
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