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Newmarket: Craven Stakes Preview

Hi all,

Inside today’s main piece you can read my thoughts on the best of the action of the final day of Newmarket’s Craven Meeting.

After getting all hyped up about the flat season gaining momentum, I ended up with an 8/1 winner over jumps at Cheltenham on Wednesday.  Meanwhile my Daily Punt selection at Newmarket might still be running.

Now, it's the final day of Newmarket's Craven Meeting, alongside more jumps action at Cheltenham, where the mares take centre stage.

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The highlight at Newmarket is the Group 3 bet365 Craven Stakes (3:35), raced over the same C&D as the 2,000 Guineas, making it the key trial for the first colts classic. ITV Racing will be covering four races live from Newmarket and an additional two from Cheltenham.

2:25 – Wood Ditton Maiden Stakes (GBB Race) (Class 2) – 1m

Twelve unraced 3-year-old’s so good luck. The talking horse seems to be the Amo Racing owned Padesha who is the only runner in the line-up who holds a Group 1 entry and was entered in the Craven Stakes. The bookies are taking no chances with his odds that for sure with the son of Wootton Bassett a general 4/1 in the early bird betting.

3:00 – Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes (Group 3) – 6f

Shouldvebeenaring needed his reappearance and Wolverhampton and should be spot on fitness wise today. Just one win last season which came here in a Listed race (7f) in May but plenty of good efforts afterwards including at Group 1 level. Likely to be thereabouts.

Run To Freedom won a Listed race at Salisbury in May and finished runner-up in the Group 1 July Cup. Only 5th of 15 in the Champion Sprint on his final start last season but back from a break must be considered back on better ground.

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Popmaster very best form has come at 7f last Autumn, but five of his six career wins have come at 6f. The 6-year-old is versatile ground wise but took a few runs to hit top form last season. He would be interesting at a price, but you need to take fitness on trust. Stablemate Makarova isn’t totally out of it either if fully tuned up. The mare won a Listed race (5f) at Ayr last June and wasn’t disgraced when sixth in the Nunthorpe at York and fourth in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp in October. A sound surface suits her as does a strongly run race and whilst her best form has come at 5f she does stay 6f. Yard among the winners at the meeting. 

Verdict: If RunTo Freedom is to win a Group race this season you would think this would be it. The Ed Walker pair of Makarova and Popmaster have claims. With the former tempting given she should get the race run to suit.

3:35 – bet365 Craven Stakes (Group 3) – 1m

The feature race on Thursday and the whole of the three days of the Craven Meeting.  I’m not sure we’ll see a 2,000 Guineas winner in the line-up but it's an intriguing enough contest.

Eben Shaddad, a winner on the July Course in August on racecourse before progressing again to finish third in a Group 3 here and then 4 ½ length 3rd of 8 to City Of Troy in the Dewhurst Stakes. He’s got the best form coming into the race. Hood goes on for the first time on step up to a mile.

French challenger Alcantor was a three-time winner last year including a Group 3 at Saint-Cloud in September and was a ½ length runner-up in a Group 1 on his final start. He’s a classy colt whose stamina for a mile is already proven. If he takes the track and quicker ground, he’s the one to beat.

Native Approach, 7/4 favourite with the sponsors, shaped with promise when runner-up on his racecourse debut at Kempton in January. He put that experience to good use three weeks later when winning a Kempton maiden (1m). Open to plenty of improvement but needs to have found it to beat the likes of Eben Shaddad and Alcantor.

Thursday Selection:


3:00 – Run To Freedom – 12/1.

Good luck with your Thursday bets.


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