1.50 – 3-y-o Handicap – Dragons Tail
Craven Stakes day opens with a tight 6f Handicap, where the selection is Dragons Tail, whose trainer, Tom Dascombe, has started the season extremely well.
This horse held his form really well through the summer last year, only disappointing at the very end of the season when 7f may have been beyond him.
Back on a sounder surface and down a couple of pounds in the weights, he can make further progress on his first start as a three-year-old.
The one that kept catching my eye against him was Galloway Hills, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I persuade myself to back him if he’s a big price. It’s his first try on turf, I always take a second look at this stable’s runners if they’re ridden by Silvestre De Sousa and he gets blinkers for the first time.
2.25 – Wood Ditton Maiden Stakes – Surya
The Wood Ditton is one declaration short of being a divided race, so we have a massive field of nineteen, unraced horses and all I’ve got to do is try and find the winner!
Having scoured the pedigrees, I have come down on Surya, who’s by Frankel’s out of Sariska (hardly takes a genius to work out he’s probably ok) is nicely drawn and therefore the selection.
3.00 – Abernant Stakes – Spirit Of Valour
Andre Fabre has got a terrific record of bringing horses to the Rowley Mile and Le Brivido is one of the more interesting horses of the season anywhere in Europe.
However, he’s only got a neck in hand of Spirit Of Valour from their running in the Jersey Stakes and six furlongs on quickening ground may be more up Spirit of Valour’s street – so, at around three times the price, I’m going for the Ballydoyle runner.
There are some other interesting horses in the race, including Brando, who comes here for the first time after a wind operation – given that he’s broken blood vessels in the past, that might help him, whilst One Master is an intriguing filly who is completely unexposed.
3.35 – Craven Stakes – Masar
Roaring Lion is an exciting prospect for the early classics and will be even more so if he comes through the Craven test with flying colours. Given how strong the form of the Racing Post Trophy looks and given that he looked an unlucky loser, he ought to have no problem winning this race.
It’s hard to recommend him as a bet at the likely odds, but if you’re looking for a nice each way chance, then Masar looks the one that is overpriced.
He had no luck at all in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf which he might well have won, but for a clearer passage and he simply didn’t handle the dirt in Meydan last time – if you excuse those two runs, he should be a clear second favourite here and I’ll be backing him each way.
2.40 – Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase
It’s great to see the Mares getting their chance to shine in some big races at Cheltenham, where the ground will be nicer than it has been all season.
ITV are just covering the 2.40 here and this race can go the way of Fergal O’Brien’s, Socksy, in the first-time blinkers.
She ran very creditably behind Rons Dream at Haydock last time and she keeps giving me the impression that she doesn’t quite see out a trip and I think back to an extended 2 and a half miles is going to suit her.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.