Craven Stakes Tips: Godolphin star to claim Newmarket win

Charlie Appleby can train his second Craven winner on Thursday.
Charlie Appleby can train his second Craven winner on Thursday.

Steve Chambers previews the Craven Stakes, and picks out his best bet for the Group 3 contest at Newmarket...

A field of 10 is set to to go post for the 2021 Craven Stakes, which could throw up a potential 2000 Guineas contender, and the market is dominated by a Charlie Appleby-trained duo that look the pair to beat in a fascinating renewal of the 1m Group 3 contest.

Master Of The Seas heads the betting, and with an unbeaten record at Flat HQ (two wins from two), the son of Dubawi looks to set the standard. A mightily-impressive three-length win of the Group 2 Superlative Stakes last season propelled him into the Guineas picture, and he's currently a 20/1 chance for the first Classic of the season but despite having a glittering two-year-old campaign, he needs to kick on this season to become a Classic challenger.

He was beaten two lengths in the National Stakes at the end of last season, and his copybook was blotted further when he was beaten at odds-on in Meydan in February. A return to Newmarket should see him at his best, but having disappointed last time out in Dubai then he could well be worth taking on this Thursday, and his stablemate La Barrosa could be a safer option.

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La Barrosa was late to the two-year-old party last season, only making his debut in September, but during that month he racked up a brace of eye-catching victories. A comfortable maiden success at Ascot was followed by a one length win in the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes. Having shown his best work at the end of that 7f contest, he was stepped up to a mile next time out in Group 1 company in France. However, he could only finish fifth behind Van Gogh in the Prix Critreium Internationa at Saint-Cloud.

The Lope De Vega colt found the heavy going tough that day in France, so a return to a quicker surface on Thursday should see him in a better light, and he looks a major player. Sure to relish another crack at one mile, the Godolphin raider can prove to be a classier performer than his stablemate Master Of The Seas, and if James Doyle can unleash him with a storming run late on then he can bound to glory.

Astonishingly, Aidan O'Brien is yet to train the winner of the Craven Stakes, but the master of Ballydoyle, who has a hatful of Guineas wins on his CV will unleash a dual-pronged attack in the shape of Khartoum and Sandhurst. The former, who sits third in the betting, at the time of writing, broke his maiden tag at the second time of asking at the Curragh, but was not seen after that run. He is sure to improve in his three-year-old season, but this could come a little soon for his development, and it's Sandhurst that makes more appeal.

As big as 66/1 for the 2000 Guineas, Sandhurst caught the eye when winning at Gowran Park on his last start, and the son of Galileo is another that could enjoy the step up to a mile. However, like his stablemate, he will come on for the run, and while he could win the battle of the Ballydoyle raiders, he may struggle to get the better of La Barrosa.

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Of the others, Ralph Beckett's Devilwala was highly tried as a juvenile, and was handed the daunting task of lining up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland. He was unable to land any sort of blow there, but has to be given a second look, with him being held in such high regard, while Mystery Smiles put up decent third placed efforts in the Gimcrack Stakes and Sirenia Stakes, and having blossomed at Windsor on debut looks an intriguing runner. However, he may just lack the class of the Godolphin duo.

Akmaam and Royal Air Force add more depth to the race, but both will find it tough to get into contention with the boys in blue set to dominate, with La Barrosa just getting the better of stablemate Master Of The Seas in what should be a cracking renewal of the Craven Stakes on Thursday afternoon.

Craven Stakes
La Barrosa silk

La Barrosa

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