Hello Good Morning and Welcome
CRAVEN MEETING STARTS THE FLAT SEASON PROPER
Every year we hear the same old arguments as to when the Flat Season should officially start and in recent times the issue has been further compounded by the extension of the All Weather programme. In addition to this we have the variability of the Easter dates which can mess things up as they have this time around, with the Season starting at Redcar and the best race on the card being a Class 4 0-85 handicap.
Although diehards might wring their hands as to where they manage to insert the Doncaster Meeting into the Calendar, this writer has never doubted that the campaign begins in earnest at The Craven Meeting at Newmarket. This coming week the Meeting will revert to its traditional three day format and kicks off on the Tuesday with the Nell Gwyn as the feature contest on the card.
Richard Hannon invariably has his team well forward and we get to see his starlet Illuminate re-emerge from her Winter sojourn. The daughter of Zoffany capped a successful first term with a respectable sixth in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies beaten less than three lengths. Earlier in the Summer she had triumphed at Royal Ascot in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and followed up her win when edging out Besharah in the Group Two Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at the Newmarket July Meeting. She then acquitted herself well when just getting touched off in the Group One Cheveley Park Stakes by the Mark Johnston tough nut – Lumiere. In the prelims Illuminate confirmed that she had done particularly well and had made excellent physical progress. She should carry that progress through to next Tuesday and will prove difficult to beat.
With Lumiere going straight to the 1,000 Guineas the main opposition should come from the John Gosden trained Nathra. I was at Salisbury when she had her first outing in the Quidhampton Stakes. In the paddock she looked a Group Class filly and she floated to post. What was so surprising however was the complete lack of confidence from any of people associated with the yard and who might be in the position to offer a glimmer of hope. Significant support in the betting market was totally absent and I have to confess that I was drawn in by negative vibes and failed to back my own judgement. Nathra followed up that clear cut win with a facile victory at Newbury coming home 7 lengths ahead of Alqubbah. The question for connections was whether it was worth stumping up the supplementary fee to enter the Group One Dubai Fillies Mile at Newmarket. A scintillating gallop at HQ made sure the box was ticked and she turned up on the day. I am not sure if she was going over the top but she did not quite impress as much on looks as she had on her previous outings and had to give way in the race to the impressive winner in the shape of Minding. Given that the winner was catapulted to the head of the Guineas market as a consequence, probably means it was a fair performance in itself but my after thoughts were that she had probably had not run up to her very best. John Gosden is not always keen to have his fillies fully wound up on their first run in April and it would not surprise me if she were beaten by Illuminate. How they have progressed this Spring will give plenty of clues as to their chances in the big one itself.
The colts will have their chance to flex their sinews when they contest the Craven Stakes on the Thursday. Contrary to popular opinion the race is definitely Not named after the famous TV Presenter. With trainers careful to sidestep their main opposition the heat should fall to the John Gosden trained Foundation. In his preparation for his first run the yard had to put him through the stalls countless times as the clue was not being found. The yard persisted to no avail but such was his talent at home, jockey Rab Havelin was told not to worry how much ground he lost at the start, just take it easy and he would win in a canter, which is pretty much how it went. Foundation was slow out of the blocks when he followed up, also at Haydock but was now starting to get the message and he offered no start to his rivals when stepping up to take the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket in late September. Tracking the leaders he put his foot down when asked and quickened impressively to confirm his status.
Continuing to impress at home he was entered for the Racing Post Trophy but Frankie had a bad hair day and his run was blocked at every opportunity on Town Moor.
Like Illuminate he is by the stallion Zoffany and though entered in the Dante he is not expected to stay a deal further than a mile at this stage. With the Gosden colts well forward in their preparation Foundation should get the Clarehaven Stables off to a great start.
Newbury takes up the baton on the weekend with the Fred Darling and the Greenham Classic Trials and racegoers will have their chance to see how the 2016 crop have done and which ones have made the most development.
Be Lucky and May The Gambling Gods Be With You
Chris Anzani Racing