Final day of the Newmarket Craven meeting today sees the running of the aforesaid bet365 Craven Stakes at 3.35, with seven runners going to post.
The market has the Aiden O’Brien trained War Decree as favourite at 2-1 tops, with Rivet from William Haggas’ yard second in at 7-2.
War decree has not been seen since winning a Group2 at Goodwood last July and one has to wonder where he’s been and with the trainer quoted as saying he is ‘just ready to start’, an overwhelming endorsement it ain’t.
Rivet, on the other hand, ran right through until October, capping a fine first season with a victory in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. However, the only blip on this horse’s record came in the Dewhurst on this course, with a strong suspicion that he did not act on the track. Additionally, the trainer’s comment that ‘he is fit enough to run a good race’ doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence either. Unlikely, therefore, that frog impersonators will be crying ‘rivet, rivet’ come the final furlong.
Sitting at 9-2 (10Bet) in the betting is Richard Hannon’s Larchmont Lad which was last seen in September beating yesterday’s impressive winner Whitecliffsofdover on this course. Prior to that he had just been touched off by Rodaini and Salsabeel, neither of which did any damage to the form earlier this week. With a stable ‘lesser light’ just beating our selection Folkswood yesterday, I’m half expecting the stable cat to be supplemented for the Guineas, so Larchmont Lad has to be the value selection for this race.
Earlier on the card at 2.25, Salateen rates a confident pick in the bet365 Handicap over 7 furlongs. Best known lately for exploits on the AW, this David O’Meara trained 5-y-o wona turf handicap at Meydan in February and a course and distance handicap last September. Fitness edge + Ryan Moore + ideal conditions = get on at 5-2 (Winner Sports).
At Cheltenham today, the Catesby Property Group PLC Mares’ Handicap Hurdle over 2m41/2f at 3.15 contains a decent betting opportunity, but with a caveat.
There will come a time when Sam Waley-Cohen rides a good race, gets his mount in the right positions and manages to stay in the saddle – please, Sam, let it be today.
Theatre Territory is better that her form figures suggest and is undoubtedly the best handicapped horse in the race. Apart from her debut run, however, those facts have been well hidden by the antics of her pilot. Twelve runners in the wide open spaces of Chelters couldn’t be better, though, so last chance saloon, my boy.
Recommendation: Theatre Territory e/w @ 13-2 (Betbright) and keep your eyes closed during the race.