The Newmarket Craven Meeting kicks off on Tuesday at HQ and it’s a meeting that’s seen as the catalyst for the beginning of the flat season with four days of top class action to get stuck into on the Rowley Mile. I’ll be writing about the entire meeting and sharing who I’ll be punting on throughout the four days. From a betting point of view the start of the flat season can be a real cruel mistress as we saw at Newbury last week and this Newmarket meeting is likely to be no different.
1.15. bet365 European Breeders’ Fund Fillies’ Maiden Stakes. (1m)
The 1.15 kicks things off for the 2019 Craven Meeting at HQ a maiden contest for fillies that’s contested over the distance of a mile. John Gosden has a fine record in the race winning it four times in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. I think he holds the key this time around again here and TWIST N’ SHAKE can put in a bold showing. She showed promise on one start for Luca Cumani last season and can confirm said promise here under Frankie. The likely dangers look to come in the form of Maqsad and Stagehand the latter being the mount of Ryan Moore.
WIN: TWIST N’ SHAKE (2/1)
1.50. Wetherbys TBA Handicap. (6f)
The second race of the afternoon is the 1.50 which is a handicap which is ridden over a distance of six furlongs and this particular affair is one of the most competitive of the afternoon. I’ve decided to go with two here and the first of these comes in the form of Kevin Ryan’s TOMMY TAYLOR. He comes here off the back of an eye catching sixth placed effort at Doncaster the last day, I was there on that occasion and he gave the impression that he will come a lot for that effort of which we could see evidence of here. The other one I’ve sided with here is Ed Walker’s DESERT DOCTOR. He represents a yard that won this race last year and whilst his best form generally comes on the All Weather he comes into this race fit which could well prove to be a big factor. The majority of the line up come here with chances, the more obvious ones looking to be the likes of Green Power, Blackheath and Buridan.
EACH WAY: TOMMY TAYLOR (8/1)
EACH WAY: DESERT DOCTOR (9/1)
2.25. European Free Handicap. (Listed) (7f)
Onto the third race of the card it’s the European Free Handicap which is a Listed even contested over a distance of seven furlongs and a race that also see’s a Gosden/Dettori favourite head affairs in the form of Azano. He got off the mark at Yarmouth on his penultimate start before chasing home impressive Newbury winner Mohaather home in Group 3 company. That’s solid form and he’s certainly the one to beat. I’m taking him on though with Andrew Balding’s SHINE SO BRIGHT. He’s a horse that contested several Group 2 events last season performing admirably in them without getting his head in front. A step up in trip should help him and connections have been in hot form at this early stage of the season.
WIN: SHINE SO BRIGHT (10/3)
3.00. Fielden Stakes. (Listed) (1m 1f)
The Fielden Stakes takes centre stage at 3.00 which is a Listed event over a distance of a mile and a furlong and a race which has attracted a decent renewal this year with several potentially top class performers lining up against each other. Western Australia heads affairs for Aidan O’Brien and will be a tough nut to crack on all known form. The one I’m siding with however is John Gosden’s KICK ON who was behind the Ballydoyle raider in the Vertem at Doncaster at the back end of last season. The Qatar Racing owned colt comes here with plenty of progression left under his belt though and could well put in a bold showing here. Kadar is another to keep an eye on as we don’t quite know what he’s capable of yet.
WIN: KICK ON (7/2)
3.35. Nell Gwyn Stakes. (Group 3) (7f)
The feature event on Day 1 of the Craven Meeting is the Nell Gwyn Stakes. A Group 3 contest over seven furlongs of which Mark Johnston’s Main Edition heads affairs under Ryan Moore. She’s probably a worthy favourite on the form from last season however I’ve tried to take her on and I’ve done this with John Gosden’s ANGEL’S HIDEAWAY. She was one of my favourite fillies last season and ran some solid races in decent events. She might have a bit to find on a few of the principals here but I think she could well play a big part. There’s a whole host of other big players in the line up, Mot Juste arrives here off the back of a fine campaign last term and Qabala could well prove to be the surprise package of the line up.
WIN: ANGEL’S HIDEAWAY (4/1)