Racing UK

Five things we learnt on day two of the Craven meeting

Wednesday 19 April 2017

From a tricky Guineas puzzle after the latest round of Newmarket's Classic trials on the Rowley Mile to Nicky Henderson bulldozing his way to another National Hunt trainers' title, Tom Peacock looks at the five key points from Wednesday's action.

By Tom Peacock

Hold your Guineas bets

Punters will need as many pieces of evidence as possible to solve the Qipco 1,000 Guineas Stakes on Sunday week and it would seem sensible to wait until at least after Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free (Fred Darling) Stakes before passing judgement.

John Gosden threw Daban into the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes off a mark of only 81 because he claimed there were no other suitable options for her and, while she showed a willing attitude to win, the same connections have the previously more accomplished Dabyah lined up for Newbury at the weekend.

The time of Daban’s win was nothing too special, but a couple in behind her are worthy of mention, with Sea Of Grace stumbling in the early stages and flattening out in fifth and French filly Pamplemousse not given a particularly hard race just ahead of her.

Dover gets O’Brien ball rolling:

Whitecliffsofdover could do no more than win the bet365 European Free Handicap as comfortably as he did and some onlookers were quite taken with the handsome War Front colt.

As much as trends are there to be broken, though, this is invariably one of the weakest of Guineas trials and Aidan O’Brien has not even got this one entered for a return to the Rowley Mile on May 6.

He was fairly well beaten in last season’s Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere by National Defense, who came up short against Al Wukair in the Prix Djebel, and Churchill still looks very much O’Brien’s foremost Guineas candidate.

Gosden rewards his followers:

John Gosden has often proved the punters’ friend but he seemed to be ignored on Wednesday with Daban not his only big-priced winner among an ongoing Craven meeting haul of five. 

Dancing Breeze, a half-sister to the high-achieving Future Generation, was easy enough to back at 15-2 in the EBF Stallions Maiden Fillies' Stakes as she made an encouraging debut.

This was over a mile, with the trainer explaining afterwards that he would not be stepping her too far up in trip yet, while Roger Charlton’s Natavia would appear another to follow with the pair a long way clear of the remainder in what looked a decent heat.

Dascombe shows formidable judgement:

Time and again, Tom Dascombe has proved an astute judge of the two-year-old talent he oversees on the gallops.

Formidable Kitt was clearly another to have been showing a spark at Manor House Stable as she went off the 11-8 favourite among a field of interesting juvenile debutants in the bet365 EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes.

Dascombe’s runner knew her job, making all the running to win by half a length, and ought to be able to cope with another jump in class, even if others might have caught her up by Royal Ascot.

Henderson still flying high

While a fourth trainers’ championship is essentially in the bag with less than a fortnight of the season remaining, Nicky Henderson is showing no sign of taking his foot off the gas.

After a quiet week following Aintree’s Grand National meeting, Henderson had sent out half a dozen winners since Easter Sunday and added two more at Cheltenham with William Henry, surely a useful novice chaser for next term, landing the Citipost Novices’ Hurdle and Silverhow striking later in the Altior colours.

With Seven Barrows continuing its momentum on what is one of its most prolific ever campaigns, it would seem worth noting what could be a large lorryload of runners heading north this weekend for the Scottish National meeting.

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