The Craven meeting starts today, and for me it’s the start of the flat season proper. I’ve had runners on this day a couple of times before and it’s a meeting I like – I was going to run Bouguereau in the Feilden today but we are preferring to go to Newbury on Friday.
The main interest for me is Rayvin Mad, Pete’s first 2yo runner of the season and by Bahamian Bounty. We are hoping to run Skid Solo on Friday, also by Bahamian Bounty – Rayvin Mad should give a decent idea of how forward Pete’s 2yos are. From what I’ve heard Rayvin Mad goes well enough on the gallops, but this race takes some winning – the winner invariably goes on to compete at group level.
Art Connoisseur looks a worthy favourite. His sire, Lucky Story, was a top class 2yo and AC was comfortably the most expensive of all his progeny to go through the ring – this despite the fact that his dam was fairly moderate. He must have been good looking – for a decent horse he’s come out very early. He’ll benefit from the run and the conditions of the race are not unduly harsh on him (as a class 6 winner he only has a 3lb penalty). An obvious favourite and I think he’ll win – Rayvin Mad may be the one for the forecast.
The Free Handicap looks to have its share of real 2yo types looking to steal a decent 3yo race before the season gets moving. Exclamation and Stimulation look the most progressive but I can’t find enough reason to have a bet.
In the Nell Gwynn I rather like Quiet Elegance from Eric Alston’s stable. I don’t know Eric, but from what I can gather he isn’t the type to chase rainbows – I suspect that her owner breeders are looking for a bit of black type for their future broodmare and this ambitious step up in class might be more down to them than the trainer, but notwithstanding that she looks an interesting runner at a big price.
The Feilden is an interesting race that often throws up a Derby candidate – Kandahar Run is an obvious favourite, but hard to justify a bet. In the 4:55 Skadrak comes out for Brian having run last year for Pete. The race he came second in had a hot feel to it – I had heard big things about three in the race and they pulled clear, with Skadrak coming a close second. It looks like the best form on offer and I’d have him down as favourite on that basis – perhaps worth a bet at current odds.
In the last the one that intrigues me is Crystany. This expensive and well bred filly looks a miler on balance of pedigree – her dam was a miler from a family of stayers, and her sire (Green Desert) was a sprinter/miler. Henry Cecil has her in the Duke of York Stakes, an all age group 2 over 6 furlongs, so clearly he thinks she is a sprinter – she’d have to run perhaps 20lb better than her current mark to feature in that race, and Henry isn’t a dreamer. I’m surprised that this expensive purchase ran four times as a 2yo – I imagine Henry believed she needed to get out there and would progress for the experience. Expensive horses are always iffy to follow as their trainers aim them too high to satisfy the expectations of their owners, but I’ll take the view that that is not the case here and I’ll follow her in.