The first day of Newmarket’s Craven meeting is today’s highlight and the ITV cameras will be at HQ for what promises to be a wonderful days racing.
The first of the Pattern races on the card is the listed European Free Handicap over 7f and Shine So Bright (2.25) finished third in a hat-trick of Group 2 races as a juvenile (Richmond, Gimcrack and Mill Reef) and is bred to appreciate the step up to 7f for the first time.
Silvestre De Sousa takes over in the saddle for the first time and trainer Andrew Balding has made a good start to the turf season with three winners at Newbury’s two-day Greenham meeting. The selection is 7/2 at BetVictor behind John Gosden’s Azano who is 2/1 with BetVictor and receives 2lbs from the selection.
Azano was last seen finishing runner up to Mohaather in the Gp 3 Horris Hill and that form was franked by the latter’s win in the Greenham at the weekend. My one concern with the market leader would be the fact that he disappointed on his sole start on fast ground.
The Feilden Stakes has been won by some very good horses in recent years including the brilliant Derby/Arc winner Golden Horn back in 2015. I think this is a top-class renewal and two of my horses to follow for the year Kadar (3.00) and Walkinthesand are in the seven-runner field. The vote goes to the once-raced Karl Burke colt despite the fact that the selection was withdrawn because of the prevailing fast ground in two Group races here last autumn.
Kadar won his only start at Haydock on good to soft ground beating a penalised Gosden runner (Waldstern) who may have been inconvenienced by the give in the ground. You must take his ability to act on the ground on trust, but he remains a colt of some potential and at 7/2 with BetVictor I would be disappointed if he didn’t run a big race. The son of Scat Daddy is currently 66/1 for the 2000 Guineas at BetVictor and he also holds entries in the Dante (10f) and Derby (12f).
The Gp 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes is the feature race for 3-year-old fillies over 7f. Angel’s Hideaway (3.35) finished three quarters of a length behind Mot Juste in the Rockfel Stakes over today’s C&D back in the autumn, but John Gosden’s filly didn’t have the best of runs through her field and she is 3lbs better off this afternoon. The selection is 9/2 at BetVictor and she gets the each way vote.
Chasing Dreams (4.10) is bred to be smart and she can make a winning debut for Charlie Appleby although the fact that she wears a hood for her racecourse debut would suggest she has been a bit keen on the home gallops at Newmarket.
Dual Bumper winner Melekhov (3.15) was no match for Scaramanga at Taunton last time but this stiffer track should suit, and he is taken to go one better in the Maiden Hurdle at Exeter for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson.
Dancing Shadow (3.50) finished second in the Devon National off today’s mark on his penultimate start and he is taken to go one better despite having to lump around 11st 12lbs over three-and-three quarter miles in the feature event. He is one of the very few who is guaranteed to get this marathon trip although his fencing can be a bit hit and miss.
Theatre Territory (5.00) doesn’t really stay three miles but her class should see her prevail in the Novices’ Hunter Chase. She has only won once under rules which is a travesty for one of her ability and she has been poorly campaigned in my opinion. She should be well clear before stamina becomes an issue in this grade however.
At Wolverhampton this evening Nooshin (6.45) can go one better than when runner up at Kempton last month over a mile when caught inside the final furlong. Tonight’s drop back to 7f should suit, Hayley Turner keeps the ride and she receives 7lbs from the four previous winners in the field.