Last week saw horse racing’s Newmarket’s Craven meeting and the ground on Day 1 was good to soft but turned soft by race 5. Day 2 was once again good to soft. Meanwhile Day 3 also began with good to soft going but the rain that fell during racing once again turned the going soft. It’s probably worth mentioning that the turf at Newmarket never gets too testing and soft ground there is much better than at many other courses.
Here are my four eyecatchers from the Craven Meeting and I have also added a couple of potential Sir Micheal Stoute handicap projects for Pro subscribers.
Stormy Antarctica Heads to Guineas after Impressive Craven Win
In last weeks column I highlighted a number of horses that would be worth following this season and one of them Stormy Antarctic ran on Wednesday at Newmarket in the Craven Stakes at 9/2 and this is what I wrote about the Ed Walker trained colt:
“Was bit of an eyecatcher for me on his debut run at Windsor when a fast finishing 3rd over six furlongs after a slow start. Another placed effort at over six furlongs Ascot followed before then colt went on to win over seven furlongs at Sandown and a mile at Newbury. The improvement in his form seemed to coincide with the step up in distance and facing softer going. Ended the season with a really excellent 2nd to the Aiden O’Brien trained Johannes Vermeer in the Group 1 Criterium International when back over seven furlongs at Saint-cloud in November. His form ties in with most of the top class juvenile form. Not surprisingly his trainer has described him as the most exciting three year old he has ever trained, Stays a mile and could get a mile and a quarter this year. His sire Stormy Atlantic was dirt horse in the US and his dam did win on good to firm at Doncaster so he may not have to have the ground soft to be at his best. Trainer has him entered in the Craven and the Fielden Stakes this week at Newmarket and he has the scope to improve as a three year old. May not have the class to win an English Classic but there will be good races in him this year I am sure of that”
Stormy Antarctic was even more impressive than I expected when winning the Craven. The colt traveled well through the race and showed a good turn of foot at the furlong mark to move to the front and soon had the race won. The 2000 Guineas is now firmly on his radar now and he goes there with a live chance. If the race is run on softish ground then it won’t inconvenience him as it would some of the others. Trainer told the Racing Post after the race that “He is a very good-moving horse and I would be intrigued to see how good he is on better ground”. The question remains does he need good to soft or soft to be at his best?
Mix and Mingle is Nell Gwyn Eyecatcher!
Mix And Mingle trained by Chris Wall was an eyecatcher for me after her last run back in October when winning a nursery at the course. She was an eyecatcher again in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes. Highly regarded by connections she is entitled to come on for the run and was unlucky not to finish better than 4th. The filly has clearly trained on over the winter and on breeding she would have preferred better ground than she faced here and her turn of foot was evident last year when she won on good ground in the Autumn. I doubt she is Group 1 filly but certainly can win a nice race or two this season.
Steve Rogers Well Backed For Chester Cup after Kempton Win
On Wednesday at Kempton the Roger Varian trained Steve Rogers made his seasonal reappearance at Kempton and won the 2m handicap in good style. The win means he should now get into the Chester Cup. For those of you with long memories I had highlighted his chances for that race after his run in the Cesarewitch. This is what I wrote:
“Has been a progressive stayer for connections this season winning five races. Drawn out wide in the Cesarewitch he didn’t have much chance from his draw and then had to try to find away through the big field in the final stages. In the circumstances he did well to finish as close as he did when beaten just 3 ¼ lengths at the finish. A winner at Chester over two miles on his previous start he could well be targeted at next years Chester Cup as there shouldn’t be any problems with the trip and I think there is still a bit more to come from the horse”.
I backed him for the Chester Cup after Kempton and I also recommended him to EyeCatcher Pro subscribers when 20/1 was still available. The five year old is now a single figure price in places for the race. I wouldn’t want to be getting involved at that price now or at least until the draw for the race is known.
Craven Meeting Eyecatchers
Tuesday 12th April
Free Code – David Barron – The five year old won a couple of 7f handicaps in May last year but went off the boil a little afterwards. Was making his seasonal reappearance in this 6f handicap and is entitled to come on for the run. Was held up at the back of the field but made late headway to finish a 3 ¾ length 4th. He would probably prefer an extra furlong and he is entitled to come on for this run his first since September. All his wins have come in Class 3 level and below and he is 0/8 in Class 2 contests. Three of his four career wins have come on good or quicker ground so he can be even more competitive when the ground starts to dry out. On the evidence of this run he can be placed to win a handicap or two during the spring and summer.
Wednesday 13th April
Wings Of Desire – John Gosden – A full brother to the connections Eagle Top, a Group 2 1m 4f winner, and The Lark the 1m 6f, Group 1 Park Hill Stakes winner. The Pivotal colt made a highly encouraging racecourse debut when a 3 length 3rd in this 1m 2f maiden contest. Was considered the stables second string and went off a fairly weak in the market 16/1 chance at the off. The Dante entry was held up at the back of the field but made steady headway at the furlong mark and was staying on nicely up the hill. Wasn’t given a hard ride and should derive plenty of benefit from the experience. Given his family he should be suited by a couple of extra furlongs in time and some cut in the ground was favoured by his siblings. There should be more improvement from the horse and he can win races.
Thursday 14th April
Linguistic – John Gosden – I was going to put this son of Lope De Vega in last weeks six to follow and he did his reputation no harm with an excellent win on the final day of the meeting. Had shown promise in both his starts as a juvenile finishing in second place on both occasions. His inexperience showed again here as he went clear inside the final furlong but he idled a little once he hit the front and had to be ridden out in this 1m 2f contest. On pedigree he should be well suited by middle distances and should be able to handle the inevitable rise in class he now faces. After the race his trainer indicated that the Dante would be the horse’s next target
Baccarat – Charlie Appleby – Won the 2013 Great St Wilfrid Handicap and the 2014 Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot for former trainer Richard Fahey before being sold to Godolphin in the autumn of 2014. The seven year old was off the track until February of this year, when winning a valuable Meydan 6f handicap. Wasn’t seen at his best in the Group 3 Abernamt Stakes as he was slow away from the stalls and he was a never nearer 2 ¾ lengths 6th at the line. The Dutch Art gelding has yet to win on good to soft, 0/5 on good to soft or worse and 5/12 on good or quicker ground. He had looked at Meydan like he could be competitive in Group level sprints and shouldn’t be judged to harshly on this one run.
All that’s left is to wish you a profitable betting week.