Craven File: Piece of the jigsaw | News and eyecatchers from day two at Newmarket

Brando and Keystroke do battle in the Abernant
Brando and Keystroke do battle in the Abernant

Ben Linfoot provides some snippets from day two of the Craven meeting at Newmarket as the Guineas picture became a little clearer after the feature.

Set Piece delights Palmer

All the talk was of Skardu after the Craven Stakes and rightly so. He showed speed to get on top close home and, two from two, you can see why he’s now a single-figure price for the 2000 Guineas.

But Momkin and Set Piece weren’t far behind and the latter delighted his trainer, Hugo Palmer.

Slowly away under Frankie Dettori, he fairly took off when brought to the outside and he looked like he might take off and win nicely going into The Dip.

That’s when he traded at 2.2 in-running on Betfair, but he had to settle for third in the end as Skardu and Momkin battled by him in the closing stages.

“It was a really nice run,” said Palmer afterwards, who was far from despondent.

“I just wish he hadn’t hit the front so soon. Global Spectrum was going nowhere in front of him and he was either going to be taken out of the race or come out and improve. He went there so quickly Frankie had visions of him winning like Zafonic at one stage.

“He’s a big, burly horse and I think he’ll improve a lot for that. Frankie was of the opinion that he’s very much worth having a go at the big one in a couple of weeks’ time.

“If Teddy Grimthorpe tells me that Prince Khalid would like to do that then we’ll give it a go.”

It could be a wise decision. And quotes of 33/1 after such a promising trial, which he should come on for, aren’t the worst in the world. Especially considering the market weakness of Too Darn Hot.

Usual route for Brando

The Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes went to 66/1 outsider Keystroke as Stuart Williams landed his first Group race.

That meant Brando had to play the role of bridesmaid, something he’s unaccustomed to in this race, as he narrowly failed in his bid to land the contest three years running.

Beaten a head and a neck into third, he traded at 1.6 in-running on Betfair and Kevin Ryan was delighted with the effort of the son of Pivotal.

“He’s run a great race, the ground was fast enough out there,” Ryan said. “He’s getting older, it’s beautiful fast ground but he’s run enough on very quick ground. Perfect start, there were no excuses.

“They went a good pace which suits, he’s been beat a head and a neck. For the start of the campaign I think it’s all very positive.

“He’ll go to York for the Duke of York and then back here on the July Course for the July Cup. It’s the same route, you don’t have to ask me it’ll be the same route as he does every year. He’s a star.”

Class remains likely for Middleton

Brando’s Duke Of York run wasn’t the only nod to York’s Dante meeting as William Haggas confirmed Sea Of Class remains likely to start her campaign in Yorkshire.

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up will bid to go one better at Longchamp later this season if all goes smoothly before then, and she could take the first step towards Paris on the Knavesmire next month.

“She’s absolutely fine,” Haggas said in the aftermath of Skardu’s Craven win. “I might go for the Middleton but, we’ll see, I’m not going to push her. She looks great, she’s doing just fine.”

Varian week gets even better

1-1-2-1-1. Those are the form figures of the last five Roger Varian-trained runners, four of them at Newmarket and the second was completing a stable one-two in the Nell Gwyn.

Wednesday’s winner was UAE Jewel in the Wood Ditton and, while he wasn’t getting carried away with the form, the Dante entry has clearly been giving off all the right signals at home.

“You can see by his entries that we think he’s quite a good horse, how good we never know until we run them,” Varian said.

“We still don’t know, it was promising, but it was a Wood Ditton and we don’t know what we beat.

“We’ve no form to go on. He was the best by a good way today but we don’t quite know the merits of the race. But it was a good debut and on the gallops he looks potentially quite smart and, hopefully, as he goes on and races again it’ll prove that way.

“So far, so good this week. He’s the only one today so we can breathe easy and try again when we come back tomorrow.”

With Zabeel Prince and Game Player running on day three of the Craven meeting for Varian, his winning streak may well not have ended just yet.

Eyecatcher

Cape Cavalli – 4.45 Newmarket

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Jalmoud wasn’t for catching in the novice stakes but the second, Cape Cavalli, ran a cracker on debut. While the winner had experience, this was the son of Cape Cross’ debut and the way he stayed on to take second will have really encouraged Simon Crisford. The 475,000gns purchase has a Dante entry and the support before the off indicates that he’d been working well at home. He certainly ran well, just bumping into one, and he’ll be worth a second glance wherever he goes next time.

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