Review of the 2017 Craven and Greenham meetings

Thursday May 4th 6.30pm

I know it’s late but I hope it’s worth it. Here is my Review of the 2017 Craven and Greenham meetings. If this doesn’t fill your Tracker(s) up nothing will.

It won’t be easy writing anything original concerning the Craven and Greenham meetings so this is very much a gut piece on what I felt on the Sunday immeadiately afterwards then with a second view of the races that I had courtesy of and jockeyclubvideos. IOverall I thought the Greenham meeting form will turn out to be stronger than the Cravens.

Big Johnny G! John Gosden clearly has his string well forward and a strong corps of 3yo’s especially his fillies. He won with six of his sixteen runners at Newmarket and five from twelve at Newbury. Five of the eleven winners were 3yo fillies. Five of the winners had already had a run, one in March, four in April. Who impressed me most?

One has to start with Shutter Speed who won the C2 Dubai Duty Free Conditions Stakes over 10F with her stablemate Enable staying on to grab third. “Shutter Speed is a good filly and has always looked our best middle-distance three-year-old filly. She ran well last year when it was soft and we are heading towards the Musidora at York with her,” said Gosden. “Her pedigree is quick. The mother is by Oasis Dream and a mile and a quarter may be her perfect trip, but we will see.” Shutter Speed is all class but I’m not sure she’s an Oaks filly, indeed for that race I would be more interested in the third, Enable, being by Nathaniel out of a Sadlers Wells mare. Maybe further down the line the Park Hill stakes at Doncaster.

I was also massively taken by Gracious Diana who won the following race on the Friday, a C4 maiden for fillies. She is a big, scopey girl who travelled well, was pulled out 2F from home and showed some gears to put the race to bed running to the furlong pole. By leading Australian sire Foxwedge out of a Generous mare she cost just £65K. Gosden said “Gracious Diana is a lovely filly and I think she is a Ribblesdale filly. We hope to go back to Newbury with her for the Oaks trial (Swettenham) there.” This race saw the debut of the Juddmonte owned, regally bred Mori (Frankel-Midday) who was slowly away and given an “educational” ride by Ryan Moore for Sir Michael Stoute and was doing all her best work at the end, fifth as 5/2F. Likewise the Ralph Beckett filly Inconceivable, who was third, should go in your tracker.

Gosden also had two winning fillies owned by Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah, Daban and Dubaiyah, both with Guineas aspirations. Gosden said “I don’t think there is any point for an owner with two fillies who’ve won their trial to be taking each other on in a Classic, which is why Dabyah is pointing towards Deauville and Daban towards Newmarket.” As for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket I am in the Rhododenhron camp until persuaded otherwise.

Previously in the week Gosden had introduced the 3yo daughter of New Approach, Dancing Breeze, who beat Roger Charlton’s Natavia, herself on debut. Both have a future as this C4 8F maiden, with the assistance of Aftertime Ansell, looks as though it may have some depth. The first two pulled over three lengths clear of the pack but already two behind have won. The sixth Mouille Point (C5 10F handicap off OR73 at Nottingham) and the tenth Vice Versa (C5 8F+ maiden at Wolverhampton). For fillies handicaps 8-10F I would make Crimson Rosette (OR78),Tranquil Star and particularly Hadeeqa of interest. Dancing Breeze has a G1 8F Coronation stakes whereas Natavia has entries in the G1 12F Oaks and the G2 12F Ribblesdale at Ascot.

John Gosden told Racing UK “I thought last year our fillies were better than our colts and is proving to be the case this spring.”

As for the Gosden colts I am a big fan of Middle Kingdom who did us a favour at Newmarket winning a C3 10f handicap off OR87 and he is a talented horse. I am convinced he quickened out of The Dip to get competitive and then went again in sight of the post to win the race. The handicapper has put him up 7lbs to OR93 and it doesn’t surprise me that Gosden says “I am going to have a go at the Dante with Middle Kingdom and find out where we stand. He is a War Front and has a good attitude, so we will see where we go.”

Gosden ran a couple of colts in the Wood Ditton (Tuesday 18th April 1.50). The money was for Damocles but it was the Godolphin colt Mark of Approval, USA bred by Lemon Drop Kid, who goes in the Notebook. He fluffed the start but under hands and heels from James Doyle settled and worked into the race and thundered up the hill. Entry at Royal Ascot in the St James Palace stakes. In recent years Wood Ditton form can be a bit hit and miss, tread carefully.

Chessman had impressed me winning on debut at Kempton on the AW last November and he was a 7/4 favourite to win the C2 7F 3yo handicap on the Friday at Newbury off OR87 but his strong finish failed by a neck. He’s up 3lbs to OR90 and has a Royal Ascot entry in the 6F Commonwealth Cup, personally I see him more of a Britannia candidate, the 3yo handicap over the straight mile. The eye-catcher from the race was Pivione who was beaten just six lengths back in ninth having been dropped in at the back by Ryan Moore before being outpaced the 3F pole then making rattling late progress. His mark of OR81 looks very manageable and he has an entry in a C3 10F handicap at Newmarket on Sunday 7th May. He also has entries in the Derby and the 12F G2 Edward VII at Royal Ascot which suggests we may see the best of him up in trip and probably over 12F.



Godolphin look like they mean business this season and at the Craven meeting the Boys in Blue hit the ground running. Although I’m struggling to see a Group 1 winning 3yo and when their Frankel filly, Extra Mile, is beaten in a C5 maiden at Beverley not everything

is rosy in their English garden! They seem to be all conquering in Australia and successful in France, Ireland and OK in the USA but here at home?

Back to their good news. On the Tuesday at Newmarket Sound and Silence looked a 2yo Royal Ascot candidate and likewise they opened up the Greenham meeting with another smart 2yo in Gold Town.

Salsabeel looks a proper racehorse but is either still green or a screw loose? Once his mental attitude matches his physical good looks he could be useful. More about the winner, Beat the Bank, later.

Godolphin had a fine result in the C4 colts 10F maiden on the Craven Thursday finishing 1st, dead heat 2nd and 5th. The winner and race favourite, Tamleek, tanked through the race and picked up well to win “takingly” and surely has a future in Group races although an OR93 could see him in a valuable handicap. Oasis Charm on debut made his ground up well but was second best on the run out of The Dip but surely a maiden has his name on it sooner rather than later. Their third representative, Greig Hall, in the care of John Gosden came from further back but was clearly learning his job and has the size and scope to do well. Being a son of Halling suggests he will improve with age and may be better still at four. The other one to take out of the race is Gosdens other runner, Pealer, who ran much better here in a first time tongue tie than when beaten on the AW at 1/6! He kept on well and now with a mark of OR83 I can see him being competitive handicapping. How soon will they geld him?

Obviously the highlight of trials week for the Boys in Blue was the G3 Greenham Stakes where they had the first and second in Barney Roy and Dream Castle and both are now among the final declarations for the 2000 Guineas this Saturday. A case could be made for both to upset Churchill with dream castle having no cover and tanking along and Barney Roy had to find three lengths from the furlong pole to reel him in. However the Hannon trained Barney Roy looks the more mature of the two and will surely benefit more from the extra furlong and stiff finish at Newmarket. In my notebook I wrote Jersey Stakes, Royal Ascot alongside Dream Castle.


Hats off for HM On the Saturday at Newbury the mile maiden was split into two divisions and the Queen had two live William Haggas trained chances both on debut and this time Ryan Moore was able to give her a belated birthday present and some real hope for the coming season. The early market moves suggested that Musical Terms in the second division was the more likely but it was Call to Mind who came gift wrapped.

Call to Mind travelled with ease but took some time to find top stride but the further they went the better he looked. You would have to say the same about the second Commander, a £670K son of Frankel owned by the China Racing Club and trained by Roger Varian, who was beaten only a neck. Onwards and upwards for both of them although I’m amazed that Call to Mind is as short as 16/1 for the Derby with PP, 25/1 general seems nearer the mark.

Musical Terms was greener on debut, having to be pushed to gather race pace. The penny took a while to drop and he didn’t get going until the three furlong pole and despite having to weave his way through finished off strongly but couldn’t beat the 100/1 winner. More educational than inspirational.

The second division was run over a second quicker and perhaps as a son of Shamardal Musical Terms may be the better long term prospect. Call to Mind has entries in the Dante, the Derby and the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot suggesting 12F will be his peak distance whereas Musical Terms is entered in the G1 St. James Palace over 8F at Royal Ascot. I would expect to see both in Berkshire in June.


Top of the Bill? It’s the Craven meeting headlined by the G3 8F Craven Stakes for 3yo colts but what to make of the 2017 edition? Looked average to me with the front five all too close and I’ll be amazed if the Guineas winner took part. The third Benbatl, for Godolphin, looks to be improving taking a major step forward from winning a C5 maiden on Doncaster on debut just three weeks earlier. He has entries in the Dante, Derby, St James Palace and the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot. Suggests they don’t know how good he is nor what his trip is! I’ll revisit this race post Guineas.


Beware the Wood Ditton form! The advantage of being on the drag with this review is that I can enlist the help of Aftertime Ansell! The second Jalela beaten in a C5 maiden at Wolverhampton and the fourth Damocles beaten in a C5 at Windsor!


Charlton scores If there is one trainer really catching my eye at the start of this Flat season it is the master of Beckhampton, Roger Charlton. For us more mature racing fans he is of course Jeremy Tree Mark II! He always has dined at the top table but he seems to have some real depth in 2017. Add to that the faith he has placed in Keiron Shoemark who despite being a 3lb claimer seems to be the stable jocket. Juddmonte seem to share the trainers faith and the Charlton/Shoemark combination will feature heavily in my summer punting plans. They introduced a smart filly in the last race at Newbury in the C4 7f fillies maiden in the shape of Princess de Lune. In disposing of eight other unraced fillies on debut she showed some real gears in winning by four lengths. Charlton put in his stable tour prior to the race “She is a filly with a nice pedigree and is closely related to Rizeena of Clive Brittain’s. She is a tall filly that has needed a lot of time and patience and she will probably appreciate quicker ground rather than soft. She is likely to start over seven furlongs, will stay a mile and she has shown promise.” This grey daughter of Shamardal cost £300K as a yearling. She has an entry in the G1 8F Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot but I would expect her to run again before then.

#FantasticMrFahey introduced a couple of two year old colts at Newmarket apparently bought with Royal Ascot in mind. Particularly liked Areen Faisal who could be tasty over 6F (Coventry). Form of this race suggests #FantasticMrFahey may have a sharp 2yo in Requinto Dawn.

Private Matter made a solid reappearance as a 3yo when fourth in the Free Handicap. Hung left on the Good to firm ground. May be difficult to place off OR106 until we get Soft in the going. France, Germany perhaps?


Mutarakez                             (Meehan) Late progress in the mile handicap behind Next Stage (Godolphin) having been held up but travelling well but the 7lb claimer couldn’t find a racing seam. Ex Hamdan Al Maktoum horse, sent to the sales and bought for £28K by Sam sangster (Meehan’s landlord) before being passed on to the current  owners. Has ALWAYS been trained by Meehan. Needs a mile on good ground, buried away, settled and a late surge. Has been as high as OR101, went off just 15/2 in the Britannia as a 3yo, but now just OR89. Still only a 5yo and has won three from nine on Turf.


Middle Kingdom, mentioned in the Johnny G section, has been put up 7lbs to OR93 but is off to the Dante at York and I expect that will have been his only ever run in a handicap. However five behind him remain of handicapping interest.

Eugenio Up 5lbs to OR100 has to be competitive under these conditions (8F. Good to firm, stiff track. C2/3) if kept to handicaps.

Bin Battuta Remains on OR93 and for this son of Dubawi 12F would seem ideal. Entered in similar 10F race over C&D on Sunday May 7th but also has entries in Dante, Derby and King Edward VII at Royal Ascot. If he did go to Ascot but in the 12F 3yo King George V 0-105 handicap you would have to take note.

Count Calabash Tried to make all, hampered in the final furlong. 10F on a flat conventional course would suit and I could see him running well at York, Leicester or even Chester and Epsom! Paul Cole’s gelding remains on an appealing OR89. Entered in same race as Bin Battuta on Sunday May 7th.

Azam That exaggerated knee action screams Soft ground to me and as a son of Dansili another two furlongs wouldn’t go amiss. OR87

Western Duke Now dropped 4lbs to OR85 and could see him winning a C3 10-12F 0-85 handicap at somewhere like Salisbury or Bath.


Tommy Taylor                      (Ryan) Looks a sure fire sprint winner for Kevin Ryan as he tanked through the C2 6F 3yo handicap on the Craven Thursday. Now dropped 2lb to OR95 I could see him turning up at York for the valuable 3yo 6F Charity Sprint.


Maths Prize                           (Charlton) Owned by the Queen he ran at Newbury on HM’s birthday and he was a well beaten fifth behind Shutter Speed trying to give her 8lbs but his OR90 handicap mark and the fact he was keeping on here screams the King George V handicap at Royal Ascot to me although his breeding suggests the Britannia over a mile would be more likely! Didn’t think young Mr Moore was too busy on him.



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