Craven Stakes Day Preview, Plus Ante Post Classics Bet

It was an interesting day of racing at Newmarket yesterday, but not a betting day for me. Shine So Bright was a good winner of the 7f listed handicap and the course form at Newmarket is a plus, but the more I watch it back the more I doubt that he will take to the Guineas in a big field as well as he took to yesterday’s test. That said, I wouldn’t write him off over shorter trips – he could potentially be a real 7f specialist and could be one to watch for the Jersey Stakes. Qabala has jumped to the top of the 1000 Guineas market after winning the Nell Gwyn and that seems justified – more on that race later.

This isn’t prime betting time on the flat for me but it is a very interesting time of year, so I’m just going to quickly run through the day’s ITV races, then take a quick look ahead to some bigger races later on in the season and point out one other horse worth watching today…

Today’s ITV Racing

13:50 Newmarket – Moyassar is one that will be interesting to watch having been a progressive type last season. He improved throughout the year and came close on his last two starts in nurseries. Both of those runs were fairly impressive on the clock. He looks as if further improvement is likely and he’ll be an interesting one to watch.

14:40 Cheltenham – Renes Girl is an obvious starting point as, at this late stage in the season, it may pay to side with horses which have avoided the testing route of Cheltenham and Aintree. She comes here fresh, having not run since the Christmas period. However, the interesting point in this race is just how much pace there is – Imperial Presence, Wenyerreadyfreddie, Tree Of Liberty, Highway One O One and Renes Girl all tend to go forward, and Kings Monarch has done so a few times too. This is the majority of the field, and leaves just Mister Whitaker, Tiquer and Got Away. The fear for Renes Girl must be that she could get into a battle up front and set the race up perfectly for the likes of Mister Whitaker under a patient ride. With that in mind, I would suggest that the market has this one backwards, and Mister Whitaker looks the bet at 9/2.
Mister Whitaker 1pt win 9/2

15:00 Newmarket – Brando deserves to be favourite having won the race the last two years, but 11/8 doesn’t seem overly generous. It’s worth noting that Dreamfield clearly goes well fresh, having won on debut and after a 569-day break, and comes here after a break of 235 days.

Craven Stakes

Zakouski is currently (just about) favourite here at 2/1, with Royal Marine 9/4, but the money appears to be for the latter rather than the former and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see their market positions reversed soon. This seems reasonable – Royal Marine is the one with the form in the book, having won a group 1 at Longchamp, and although he was disappointing in Meydan last time it wouldn’t be unreasonable to forgive him that run and assume that he didn’t take well to the surface. Back on turf, he’s the one to beat.

That’s not to say that Zakouski isn’t an exciting horse – he was impressive at Kempton on debut and has become a major talking horse. It would be great to see the hype justified, but it would make more sense to side with the proven contender. Just a quick mention for one at a massive price – Jackstar has had his trouble with injury, but he returned at Wolverhampton last month and won with ease. It’s possible that he’s a better horse than his 33/1 price tag suggests.
Royal Marine 0.5pt win 9/4
Jackstar 0.5pt win 33/1

One Other…

4:00 Beverly
City Tour won on his handicap debut last time out off a mark of 73, defying a significant draw bias. He was drawn in stall 12 of 12, whereas the all of the other winners that day were drawn low (with the exception of the 5f races on the straight course). That was the first flat meeting of the season at Musselburgh so we don’t have much to compare it to, but on the evidence available to us, a 3 pound rise for that performance may still have him ahead of the handicapper. With that in mind, early prices of 8/1 seem more than fair, and I’ll be keeping an eye on his odds when the race is priced up by other firms.
City Tour 1pt win 8/1

The Classics

It seems strange to be discussing the Classics when in just a few days I’ll be pouring over the Fairyhouse form for the Irish Grand National meeting. However, I have had a couple of bets thus far and have had one as recently as yesterday.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m on Magna Grecia for the Guineas at 12/1. His price has contracted over the last few days, but this is predominantly due to the withdrawal of Too Darn Hot from the Greenham and his subsequent drift out to as far as 9/4. Although that puts the Magna Grecia bet in a good position, should Too Darn Hot turn up fit and well on the day, he’ll most definitely be my selection in the race and I will be backing him at anything longer than odds on, assuming the vibes from connections are that he’s fit and well.

As for the Derby, I don’t have any strong opinion on the race. Too Darn Hot doesn’t really deserve his position at the top of the market, and Japan probably does. Again, I have backed one whose price has shortened a bit since – Mount Everest’s prices of 40/1 in recent weeks were a bit silly, and the 25/1 for him now is more reasonable, if not still a bit on the big side. He was only beaten a short head by Japan, and if he was to come out and win any trial, his price would contract significantly.

The 1000 Guineas is generally a race of lesser interest for me, but I’m surprised to see that one firm (888) still has Iridessa at 20/1. In the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown she was drawn wide and carried a penalty on ground that was much softer than would have been ideal, but still raced well to finish 3rd. Joseph O’Brien stressed before the race that she wasn’t completely fit and that she should come on for the run, so 20/1 looks more than fair for the Guineas.
1000 Guineas – Iridessa 1pt win 20/1 (888Sport)

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