x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Craven test for Godolphin

The Craven meeting heralds the real start of the flat season in Britain and the feature, the Craven Stakes, showcases the 2,000 Guineas second favourite, Delegator.

NEWMARKET // The Craven meeting heralds the real start of the flat season in Britain and today's feature, the Craven Stakes, showcases the 2,000 Guineas second favourite, Delegator. Delegator's credentials for next month's colts' Classic rest on his fifth-place finish in last season's Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes over Newmarket's straight seven furlongs. He drifted slightly to the right that day, not appreciating the uphill finish here, and it remains to be seen after 180 days whether he has strengthened up sufficiently to last out the mile this afternoon.

The colt's trainer, Brian Meehan, was bullish that his charge couldn't be better prepared. The son of Dansili put in an impressive piece of work last week on the Manton gallops. "It was a good bit of work and I could not have been happier with him," Meehan said. "He went very well, and judged on what I saw, I would have to be confident about our chances in the Guineas." Delegator faces seven opponents but for the first time, the royal blue silks of Godolphin line-up at this meeting. Godolphin have shipped out their horses to Britain a lot earlier than before due to the work going on at Nad Al Sheba. The Dubai-based operation relies on City Style, who won so impressively last month when leading home stablemate Liberation in the Meydan Classic.

Running around the turns of Nad Al Sheba though presents a vastly different assignment to the idiosyncratic track of Newmarket, a fact not lost on Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager. "City Style has never raced on a straight track in his life," he said. "He has got to tackle the undulations and dip of Newmarket, and we'll make plans from there." The Hamdan al Maktoum-owned Haafhd was the last colt to win the Craven and go on to win the 2,000 Guineas in 2004, but yesterday it was almost inconceivable that racegoers did not catch a glimpse of the winner of next month's 1,000 Guineas.

The red-hot favourite for the fillies' Classic, Rainbow View, along with the Rae Guest-trained Serious Attitude were allowed a rare racecourse gallop before last year's Fillies' Mile runner-up, Fantasia, won the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes. griddle@thenational.ae