Day two of Newmarket’s opening meeting and seven go to post for the feature race of the three days the Group 3 Craven Stakes for 3-y-old’s over a mile.
Six of the seven colts won last time out including Native Trail the market leader – best price 11/4 with Betfred for next month’s 2000 Guineas – having won both the National and Dewhurst Stakes as a juvenile. He is impossible to oppose having landed those two Group 1’s by an aggregate of five-and-half lengths. He will be a very prohibitive price, however, and I will be looking at the market without the odds-on Godolphin colt.
HOO YA MAL (3.35) is the only runner in the field who failed to win last time out but he only went down by a nose to Native Trail’s stablemate Noble Truth in a listed contest at Doncaster last time. The winner finished runner up in the Group 1 Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on his next start before disappointing in the Horris Hill at Newbury when he pulled too hard on soft ground.
Claymore and Al Mubhir are once-raced colts who could be anything, but I will be disappointed if Native Trail cannot cement his place at the top of the market for the first classic of the year.
Recommendation: Hoof Ya Man without Native Trail 3.35 Newmarket at 10/3 with Bet365
Charlie Appleby has saddled the winner of the 10f Novice Stakes three times in the last four renewals and the Newmarket handler is doubly represented with New London – a winner on soft ground here on debut back in the autumn – and the debutant Cosmic Desert.
New London is only 20/1 for the Derby with Paddy Power while another once-raced Godolphin colt ALDOUS HUXLEY (4.10) – who would have to be supplemented for the Epsom classic – has been put in at 25/1 with William Hill.
Aldous Huxley could hardly have been more impressive than when making a winning debut at Kempton last month when he made his move about four furlongs out and came clear. The way Reb Havlin rode the winner out to the line suggested to me that they wanted to know what was under the bonnet of the Dubawi colt who holds an entry in next month’s Dante Stakes on the Knavesmire.
New London beat Wholeofthemoon 8L over today’s C&D back in the autumn and the latter finished just over 6L behind Aldous Huxley at Kempton last month. That would suggest the selection has a bit to find with Appleby’s colt, but I do feel this better ground might suit the Gosden horse more. Frankie Dettori takes over in the saddle this afternoon.
Recommendation: Aldous Huxley 4.10 Newmarket at 6/4 with Boylesports
Cheltenham are watering to maintain good ground for today’s seven-race card although there are heavy showers forecast for Tuesday.
I hope there is not significant rain for MANOFTHEMOUNTAIN (2.05) who bids to follow up his win in the valuable Silver Trophy 12 months ago from a 5lbs higher mark. Trainer Emma Lavelle could do with a pick-me-up having lost Éclair Surf in the Grand National at the weekend.
The Each Way selection raced wide but was still going well enough when clouting four out at Kempton last time in a race won by stablemate Killer Clown. That was his first start since finishing in midfield – but beaten just 5L – in the Paddy Power Gold Cup back in November.
Eight are due to go to post and I thought Bet365’s opening quote of 13/2 looked more than fair. As long as the ground is genuinely good then I do feel he will run a big race – but do keep an eye on those showers.
Recommendation: Manofthemountain 2.05 Cheltenham EW at 11/2 with Bet365
In the extended 3m 1f handicap chase BIG NASTY (3.15) has dropped to the same mark as when scoring at Southwell back in May for local trainer Martin Keighley. The selection has a history of going well fresh and has not run since finishing fourth here on New Year’s Day when he may have found the combination of soft ground and a slightly longer trip taxing his stamina. He looks sure to be primed for today.
Market leader Champagnesuperover looks sure to go close and trainer Olly Murphy did have a welcome winner at Sedgefield on Sunday, but his yard had a disappointing Cheltenham and Aintree and I’m not convinced they are firing on all cylinders at present.
Recommendation: Big Nasty 3.15 Cheltenham at 7/2 with William Hill
There is plenty of pace in the 2m handicap hurdle for conditional and amateur jockeys’ and that should suit Dan Skelton’s ROCK LEGEND (5.00) who looks to be improving for racing and looked to be getting his act together when scoring at Newcastle on good ground last time. Skelton’s amateur Tristan Durrell can take off a valuable 7lbs from the back of this half-brother to five winners including the top-class Wicklow Brave.
Koi Dodville and Lord Of Cheshire are likely to ensure a decent gallop and the hope is that Durrell can sit and pounce going to the last.
Recommendation: Rock Legend 5.00 Cheltenham at 7/4 with William Hill
A terrific jumps card at Kempton this evening and Colin Tizzard’s National runners Lostintranslation – jumped superbly but wouldn’t get four-and-a-quarter miles in a horsebox – and Fiddlerontheroof – finished fifth after his stamina gave way two out – ran very good races at Aintree at the weekend. The yard continue to struggle for consistency, however, with a number of their inmates running below par.
I recommended the stable’s OFALLTHEGINJOINTS (7.10) antepost for the Topham Trophy and he failed to make the cut by two; much to my chagrin. No harm done of course as he was balloted out of the race, and I hope compensation awaits in the four-runner three-mile handicap chase.
I suggested in the run up to Aintree that the horse needs better ground and a trip just shy of three miles on a left-hand track, but I do feel that connections have stumbled on a very winnable looking race despite the steadier of 11st 12lbs.
The 8-y-old has not been done any favours by the handicapper this season and he is the outsider of the four-runner field but, if anywhere near his best, he would be too good for this lot although I appreciate the fitful form of the yard over the last couple of seasons does temper confidence.
Recommendation: Ofalltheginjoints 7.10 Kempton at 10/3 with William Hill